Newsletter – Issue 164, July 2007
Nothing until the summer is over. We start again on Wednesday, 17th October, with Jonathan Wordsworth on Working with farmers to protect Scotland’s Heritage.
Manuel Nunnery by Linlithgow
The crop will be off the field to the N of the Nunnery by 4th August which is the start of Geoff Bailey’s investigations.
We will lay out the field in 20 by 20 metre squares for geophysical survey and Peter Morris has agreed to do the magnetometry survey first. Magnetometry can be done more quickly than ground resistance measurements so Peter should complete his survey on that day. We will work round him and probably take two more days. Geoff is likely to put in exploratory trenches just outside the Scheduled Area and in line with the remaining gable wall. Hopefully we should be able to tell him where other walls run or features appear. Unlike the Time Team schedule, the farmer has given Geoff two full weeks of access.
New email address
Please note that the EAFS email address is now fergieATcyberpict.co.uk (replace AT with @).
The date for investigating the site nearer Blackridge has not yet been arranged but should fit in after the two weeks spent at Manuel. This site is on the S side of East Craigs Hill and may be recorded by RCAHMS as ‘cultivation terraces’. East Craigs Hill (and this site) have a large number of apparently glaciated boulders scattered randomly on the surface although some on the site make a clearly rectangular shape.
The 1737 map of East Lothian made by John Adair shows, rather diagrammatically, the houses of East and West Craigs adjacent to the hills of those names but also shows another house to the S of East Craigs but does not name it. A house of 1737 would be expected to appear as rather more than a row of boulders so hopefully we will find whether a house did exist there.
We are now almost at the end of the digging season at Penicuik but have not yet been given the date when the pheasants will be released and our presence would cause disturbance.
We were pleased to welcome Geoff Bailey to the site on 8th July who, with his usual vigour, excavated in the revetment at the NE end of the site and in the bank and ditch of Trench 3. He believes that some of the revetment stones are bedded on gravel, not natural sandy gravel subsoil – this would point to a ‘feature’ in the layout of the plantation.
The full depth of the ditch between the two banks at the SW end of the site is still a matter of debate. An upper shallow infill of dark soil has accumulated in about the last 200 years as it was in this level that three glass bottle sherds of about that age have been found. Geoff exposed an area of large cobble stones on the SW side of the inner bank; these may be the same context as some cobbles set in clay found last year that could have been placed to stabilise the face of the bank.
Sessions of level measurement and drawing are now nearing completion to record the site as it is – even though in many places we cannot say what it is. Iron Age features could well have been modified (or obliterated) when banks or fences were erected to prevent animals entering Castlehill Plantation when the first young trees were planted.