Issue 169

July 2008

Society Activities

Nothing more now until Wednesday, 15th October when we have Helen Bradley on Adopt-a Monument.

Archaeomagnetic Dating at Castlehill, Penicuik

We have received the report on the Archaeomagnetic Dating at Castlehill.  Sadly it was unsuccessful – rather than reproduce the full report I have just copied the summary –
“A total of 25 samples were collected and all the samples had a measurable remanence but the magnetisation was weak.  These results indicate that most of the material sampled does not contain sufficient magnetic minerals to record a consistent and stable magnetic direction or was not heated to an adequate temperature and therefore are unable to produce a reliable archaeomagnetic date.  It was not possible to produce an archaeomagnetic date for either the feature from trench 2 or for trench 1.  The archaeomagnetic evidence is not able to determine if the activity in either trench relates to any proposed Iron Age occupation in the vicinity.”

Excavation on the Dalmeny Estate

Two years ago we were joined by members of the University of Edinburgh Archaeology Dept. to dig a series of test pits in the field on the W side of the River Almond in the area where we had found the largest number of lithics in our 1997-9 field walking.  The lithics were confirmed as Mesolithic by Dr Catriona Pickard who supervised the dig and who, on the last day of excavation in August 2006, recovered carbonised hazelnut shells from the final pit excavated.  The hope has always been that this site would be of similar date to that excavated in Cramond in our Trench F-G which holds the record for the oldest dated site in Scotland at 10K years B.P.

The Factor of Dalmeny Estate has given outline permission that, once the present crop is off the field, a larger examination of the area from which the hazelnut shells were recovered can take place.  By September the shells will have been carbon dated. We will let you know once the date of access to the field is confirmed.  The dig will again be supervised by Catriona.


Our dig at Castle Hill is now closed down for the season.


The site of this farm (recorded on the Bavelaw Estate in 1776 but not since) has been surveyed as part of the Scottish Rural Past project. To see whether we can add further information on the farm we will make a ground resistance survey on 9th August. The area is only about 800sq.m. so the proposal is to do it twice using 0.5 and 1.0m mobile probe spacing to see whether a deeper ‘look’ gives any difference in building outline.

Magnetometry Survey to the East of Cramond House

The field to the E of Cramond House was relayed out in 20 by 20m squares on 19th May in preparation for the survey conducted by Dr Peter Morris on 20th May. All went well and there was no need to protect equipment from the rain. Peter, in his usual efficient manner, emailed a variety of different printouts of the results that evening. Some very significant magnetic anomalies showed up but before any conclusions could be made we had to return to survey in the more recently planted trees that were within cattle proof fencing. The wire that holds the fencing together has a large magnetic signature that has to be discounted. There are, thankfully, many more magnetic anomalies than there are fenced trees.
The probable Roman bank/wall and ditch, that was identified in the ground resistance and linear array surveys, shows up well in the magnetic survey on the edge of the old raised beach. The line curves to the S at the E end and heads NW at the W end, in both cases following the line of the raised beach shown in the Drift Geology map. This is also the line of the walkway shown in the Bauchop map of 1815 and appears to continue the line of the Roman ditch found by Nick Holmes beside the Tower.
A number of magnetic anomalies appear beside the ‘wall’ in the extreme NE corner just where Roman ovens could have been built. There are many lines parallel to the tree avenue which may indicate garden features but, as the raised beach is also on this bearing, they could equally well be Roman features parallel to the wall. Once the best interpretation has been made the project will be written up as requested by Historic Scotland when giving their permission to survey over the Scheduled Area.

Ogilface Castle, Armadale

The geophysical survey, made last year in conjunction with Dr John Wells and with magnetometry conducted by Dr Peter Morris, was written up as EAFS Geophysical Paper No 19. It covered the area ground resistance and the magnetometry but could throw no light on where the descending steps from the castle led. These steps were partially excavated by a team from Armadale Academy some 20 years ago. Peter now has a resistive linear array kit to make surveys that, with probes at 1.0m spacing, can ‘look’ to a depth of about 2.5m. It is possible to ‘look’ more deeply with wider probe spacing but this results in a loss of detail.
John has arranged permission from the farmer and we will work with Peter on 5th August to survey for a possible cellar or dungeon. Even if it is completely infilled the walls should appear as high resistance. Linear array measurements have given good indications of Roman ditches at Cramond but to ‘look’ for a dungeon is a new challenge. Should the weather on the 5th be dreadful, the survey will be on the 7th.

Cousland Castle, Nunnery and Pottery Sites

The Cousland Castle ground resistance survey, which extended into the field to the S and possibly showed the site of the nunnery, is now written up (Occasional Paper No 20) and copies are in the hands of David Connolly and Biddy Simpson. East Lothian holds the Sites and Monuments Record for Midlothian and will decide on the actions to be taken if the possible nunnery site is to be made available for housing.
Completion of the ground resistance survey in the pottery field will be arranged as soon as the crop is off the field or David is back from the Middle East (circa 10th Oct) whichever is the later. It will be followed by excavation over the presumed pottery kiln sites.


This community excavation is taking place as part of the Cramond Management Plan, involving the City of Edinburgh Council Archaeology Service and AOC Archaeology Group in co-operation with Historic Scotland. The proposed archaeological works will commence on 16th August and will run throughout the week and week-end (please note we may not work on Mondays) until the end of September. On-site hours will usually be between the hours of approximately 9am to 5pm. Site accommodation including washing facilities, toilets, and a kettle etc will be provided on site.
The main body of work will comprise the re-excavation of one of the fort’s buildings, previously excavated by the Raes in the 1950s. The excavation will initially be by machine, which will remove the overburden to reveal the underling archaeological surface. Due to Health and Safety issues this work will mainly be carried out by AOC Archaeology Group. Once this material is partially cleared the underlying building will be hand cleaned/excavated and recorded. A secondary trench (10 m by 10m) will be excavated across the fort to identify the location of either interior buildings or possibly the fort entrance.
Generally the work will comprise a variety of archaeological techniques including: excavation of features and structures, survey, planning and elevation drawing, photography and finds recovery and processing. Because heavy plant will be on site for at least the first two weeks of excavation and then sporadically throughout, Health and Safety issues will be of paramount importance. Therefore a rota / schedule / timetable of volunteers is being organised to ensure that there will be an adequate number of people on site every day. This will be organised in advance of the work starting.
The work will be carried out in weekly blocks, but this will mainly be to accommodate some of the students from Edinburgh that wish to volunteer. It is appreciated that not everyone will be able to afford so much time, but it is felt this is the easiest way to accommodate everyone. Once the information is to hand AOC will then try to assign everyone with their preferred time slots. A contact number will be provided to arrange the necessary dates. People will have to provide their own heavy boots and waterproofs. It is important to ensure that anti-tetanus injections are up to date. Those wishing to volunteer for the Cramond Fort excavation should contact Martin Cook of AOC Archaeology, giving their available dates and times, email address and telephone number. Martin can be contacted at
Visitors to the excavation will be welcome throughout September.


We have now completed the first week of the continuation of the 2006 excavation. We are now fairly sure that the bathhouse is aligned east/west having discovered a large unrobbed lower section of wall (three courses so far) in an extension to trench C where we had previously found some opus signinum (Roman concrete flooring) and a heavily heated sandstone wall section. There were large quantities of box flue tiles and possible painted wall plaster recovered but not much Roman pottery as yet (only one mortarium rim sherd). The new section of wall, in total about 8 or 9 courses, aligned quite well with the remains of a wall destroyed by a modern sewer trench giving a reasonably sized hypocausted room.
Other trenches have revealed a further part of a room with a slabbed floor under collapsed stone roofing material, the continuation of the stone-filled ditch excavated in 2006 and a possible extension of the wall alignment. One piece of decorated Samian ware, possibly depicting a gladiator, decorated BB1 and an unidentified coin were found. The ditch was also traced to the east yielding one further sherd of decorated Samian ware. (Stop press – the stone-filled ditch has now been identified as a drainage channel for the latrine block).


The Cramond SAM event will take place on the weekend of 13th and 14th September from 2-5pm each day at The Maltings, Riverside, Cramond. There will be guided tours of the area, including the Roman Fort excavation, the historic village and the riverside iron mills. Patrick Cave-Browne will be demonstrating ancient technology such as making fire using flint and steel or making string from nettles. A variety of early writing methods will be available to try – ogham, runic, cuneiform, etc. There will be exhibitions on various aspects of Cramond at The Maltings. This year the event is being organised jointly by EAFS, Cramond Heritage Trust, AOC Archaeology and the City of Edinburgh Council Archaeology Service.

Brian Tait,
31st March 2008
(Views and opinions expressed in this Newsletter are not necessarily those of the Society, its Committee and Members, or the Editor).