Cammo Action Plan

Plan for the Cammo Estate project by The Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society (amended 31/3/2017)


2017 is the ‘Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology’. In order to mark this year in an appropriate manner the Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society (EAFS) Committee has, with encouragement from our President John Lawson, embarked on planning a programme of investigation based on the Cammo Estate.

It is hoped that this will allow us the opportunity for historical research, field walking, landscape survey, geophysical survey, building recording, photographic recording and also excavation. This activity will be carried out over a three to five year timeframe.

The Society

Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society was founded in 1971 and has a reputation as an active amateur community-based archaeological group, working in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas.

It played a prominent part in the excavation of the Roman Fort at Cramond, under the auspices of the Edinburgh City Council’s Curator of Archaeology; and was involved  in the discovery of the Cramond Lioness; found evidence of the then (1995) earliest known human occupation in Scotland; from 2019 to 2011 was involved in the comprehensive study of abandoned farmsteads and cottages in the Pentland Hills for the RCAHMS Scotland’s Rural Past project; and  recording the archaeological features of the eroding shore line of Eastern Scotland through the SCAPE (later SHARP)project. In 2002 the Society won the Pitt Rivers Award for the best project in the UK by a voluntary body or individual for the Society’s excavation at Fast Castle, Berwickshire.

It would be our intention to involve other community groups in this project such as the Friends of Cammo ( ; Edinburgh University Archaeology Society ( and Edinburgh Young Archaeology Club                       (, in carrying out a range of archaeological fieldwork. We will publish reports on all the work and the material will be available to the Council for incorporation in their own publications relating to the Cammo Estate and to our partner organisations.

The Society carries appropriate insurance cover for archaeological fieldwork by its members and has a well-defined health and safety policy covering such activities. A risk assessment would be carried out in advance of any work to be done on the Estate. All involved would be given suitable induction and a talk on ‘tool safety’.

The Cammo Estate

Cammo Estate, Cammo Road, Edinburgh, EH4 8AW.

Site centroid NT 317503 674688

Cammo Estate is a historic designed landscape and its cultural heritage is of national importance. Cammo House was built in 1693 by John Menzies and the park laid out by Sir John Clerk in 1710-26.

It is a Designated Historic Garden and Designed Landscape, listed in the Scottish Government’s Inventory Supplementary Vol: Lothians, p13-17.

It hosts two Scheduled Ancient Monuments – Cammo Standing Stone (Ref: 6189); Cammo Canal (Ref: 6440). It also hosts a series of Listed Buildings including  Cammo House; Stable Block; gate Lodge; Gate Piers, railing and boundary wall; Bridge including quadrant walls and estate boundary walls; Walled garden, gate piers, out buildings and bee boles. Cammo Home Farm which was C listed has recently been demolished and the land sold.

Historic landscape surveying and assessments were undertaken in the early 1990s in order to develop management plans. The current Management Plan runs from 2011-2020.


Short History of the Cammo Estate


The Lands of Cammo belonged to the Abbey of Inchcolm until about 1400 when they were sold to Robert de Cardney, Bishop of Dunkeld. In 1409 it was sold to John de Nudre. Thereafter it passed, through marriage, to the Mowbray family in the Fifteenth Century. In 1637 the estate was sold to William Wilkie whose family held it until it was inherited, again through marriage, by John Menzies of Coulterallers, Lanarkshire in 1688.

In 1693 John Menzies employed Robert Mylne to build a house at Cammo. This house was probably built or remodelled on the site of a previous house.

In 1710, the Estate amounting to the House and 156 acres of undeveloped land was sold to Sir John Clerk of Penicuick.  Sir John laid out a framework of of axial paths, avenues, vistas and roundels centred on the house and the formal gardens. He kept a memorandum of his work at Cammo and a sketch plan of 1722 illustrates this. When Sir John inherited the Baronetcy from his father in 1722 he moved his principal seat to Penicuik and sold Cammo to John Hog, a relation.

Hog commissioned William Adam to remodel Cammo House. Adam may also have designed the formal canal built in the late 1720s. Hog became financially embarrassed and was forced to sell the Estate.

James Watson bought it in 1741 and renamed it ‘New Saughton’. The Watsons were responsible for remodelling the estate in the late 18th Century ‘landscape’ style. The formal gardens were removed and the walled garden and glasshouses were constructed. Later, in the 19th Century a pinetum was planted to the west of the house and the house was extended. A haha was added near to the water tower. The estate remained in the Watson family until 1873.

The new owners restored the old name of ‘Cammo’.

In 1898 the estate was split. The northern half, which included Cammo House, was sold on to Mr and Mrs Clark. When they divorced in 1909, Mrs Clark kept the Estate, changed her name to Maitland-Tennant, and lived there until she died in 1955. The house was let during 1914-20 when the Maitland-Tennants went on a world tour. Her eldest son stayed abroad which was a matter of acrimony to her. This led to her changing her will to exclude him. During the Second World War the house was requisitioned by the Air Ministry and Mrs Maitland-Tennant and her younger son Percival lived in the Cammo Lodge farm, which had previously been the Clubhouse of the Cramond Brig Golf Club.

The Maitland-Tennants set about a policy of wilful neglect of the house and estate. This was continued by Percival after his Mother’s death. He lodged in the Farm house but used the house as kennelling for his pack of about 30 dogs.

In 1978 Cammo Estate was bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland under the terms of the will of the late Percival Maitland-Tennant, who died in 1975.

In 1979, the estate was feud in perpetuity by the NTS to the City of Edinburgh Council with an associated Conservation Agreement.

 Aims of the EAFS Cammo Project

The principal aim of the project is to investigate in-depth the history and archaeology of the Cammo Estate to increase current knowledge.

The project also aims to develop involvement and skill in archaeological techniques in Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society members and the local community.

The project will be started in 2017 with the aim of celebrating the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and Archaeology Month. It will also link into 2018 Year of Youth.

Objectives of the EAFS Cammo Project

To research the various archives of material pertaining to the Cammo Estate in order to develop a fuller history of the estate.

To use the information gained from that material to direct our archaeological investigations.

To undertake archaeological investigations to understand the origins and development of the Cammo Estate involving working with City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh Young Archaeologists Club, Friends of Cammo and other interested groups.

To enhance understanding of the history and archaeology of the estate by delivering talks, open days and community archaeological excavations and publishing the results.

To devise information boards to inform the visiting public about the archaeology of the estate






Areas/sites of particular interest within the estate

Cammo House

In 1693 John Menzies employed Robert Mylne to build a house at Cammo. It was probably built or remodelled on the site of a previous house. Charles Watson added a peron (external semi-circular stone stairway and balustrade) leading up to the main entrance and a single storey pavilion on the east side of the house. In 1814 a large three storey north-west wing was constructed. Later the east wing was increased to three storeys. The front of the house was altered to a continuous crenelated parapet.

At its greatest extent Cammo House was a fine country mansion containing more than fifty rooms.

In 1977 the house was twice burnt by vandals so being in a dangerous condition it was partly demolished removing the late 18th and early 19th century extensions.

The current footprint of the ruins is much smaller and the grassy banks surrounding the ruin contain the demolished masonry.

It would be interesting to use geophysics to see if the extent of the pre-demolition building can be seen. There may be some trace of the pre 1693 building also. Searching for the site of a midden would be a primary task.

The Walled Garden

This was constructed between 1780 and 1782. The perimeter walls are built of rubble stone. The remains of two furnace houses are still visible on the outside of the north wall. The middle part of the inside of this wall was lime plastered and one of the glasshouses was built against it. The east end of the south wall contains four bee-boles. A small lean-to building is found on the outside of this wall. It should be possible using geophysics to plan the original paths and bases of the buildings within the garden

The Stable Block

This was built in 1811. It is a fine two storey building with a large central arched pavilion with an octagonal clock tower above it. It was floored with flagstones throughout and a courtyard of setted cobbles. On maps predating the current building there is evidence of an earlier stable block and it could be that the buildings were put to some other use.  There is a steep rise at the back of the stable block. On the top of which there are traces of buildings. These have been designated as ‘former offices/steadings’. These would need to be cleared, investigated by trial trenching and planned also.

We would envisage clearing the site and doing a risk assessment before, hopefully, recording with photography and drawing (using a plane table), surveying (using an EDM or Total Station) and maybe a small scale excavation and geophysical survey in the adjacent areas. The stable block would make a good example for building drawing using a plane table and training in the technique could be given to community volunteers by members of EASF.

The Friends of Cammo have plans to restore the stable block and use it as a community resource.

The ‘Piggery’

This is a series of buildings on the west side of the path running past the west of the stable block. There are two distinct buildings with further ancillary structures. The buildings have obviously been altered and adapted on a number of occasions. They would make a good building recording project once some of the undergrowth is cleared.

The Standing Stone

This stone 1.4 metres high is not mentioned on early OS maps so it is possible it could have been moved to the current site in the late 19th century.  It is one of the two scheduled monuments within the estate. It would be interesting to investigate the area surrounding the stone to see if there is any evidence of Neolithic / early Bronze Age activity.

The Canal

This is the second scheduled monument within the estate. It was created in the early 1700s and could have been part of the developments under William Adam. It is 140metres long and 10metres wide running in a NE/SW direction with an apsidal south western end. The canal has recently been emptied, cleared and archaeologically recorded before refilling.

The Water Tower

This was built between 1819 and 1823. It has four stages with a cornice between each stage. It is topped by a crenelated parapet. When it was used as a water tower it had a wooden sail arrangement on the top of the tower to use the wind to drive the apparatus for pumping the water.

The Tower is no longer part of the estate but is in an adjoining field. It is accessible by walkers and could be studied in more detail, given permission by the owners. The field it sits within would be interesting to fieldwalk when ploughed and the remains of ‘the Portugal Garden’ (1714) is also to be found in this field and would merit investigation.


Cammo Lodge

Built in 1789, it was a gate house at the entrance of the East Avenue, then the main approach to Cammo House. It was restored in 1992 to become a Visitor Centre. The adjacent bridge over the Bughtlin Burn is even earlier having been constructed in 1762. The stone piers are believed to be even earlier having been moved to become part of the bridge.

The designed landscape

There is still evidence of Sir John Clerk formal landscape with its roundels and parterres and grand avenues. The later landscaping included a Pinetum and a range of trees planted in the 1790s including one of the earliest planted European larch trees.

The open spaces of the estate offer opportunities for landscape survey, geophysical survey and trial trenching to see if any remains of medieval and earlier occupation can be found.

Other aspects of the project

Map and Record Research

It is important to any archaeological field work to do thorough research before starting active intervention. This is where we hope to call on the expertise of our partner organisations and our members. We have made a start by looking at the available maps. The places we would think of searching would be the National Library, the archives of the City of Edinburgh Council and the NTS as well l as the archive held in The Maltings, Cramond.



Targeted Field Walking – Permission granted in Estate but we would need the landowner’s permission if we wanted to look at the fields around the Water Tower.

Targeted Geophysics

Resistivity – checking availability of Don Matthews (custodian of the equipment).

Magnatometry – contact has been made with Peter Morris

Building Surveying

Plane Table – arranged with Eve Boyle to borrow equipment from HES

EDM – John Lawson has one.

Dumpy Level – EAFS has one.

Test pitting – around the House in the first instance to search for evidence of a previous house and midden deposits.

Metal Detecting – contact has been made with the Scottish Detectors club.




Birds nesting – mid March to September

Wild flowers – snowdrops in spring and daffodils on the parterre later.

Badgers – areas indicated by David Kyles are unlikely to impede our work.

Tree preservation – need to be aware when clearing ground near buildings.






Late Spring/early Summer – Launch of project with community activity centred on the House. Open Day with resistivity survey around House ruins to find the layout of the later extensions to the House. Combined with 3 or 4 test pits around the exterior of the House.

On- going resistivity survey when personnel and equipment available.

Mid September – Investigations around the Stable Block – clearing of area around the Stable Block; geophysics;  plane table survey and test pitting. Continuing investigations around the House including test pits to locate the midden.



Investigation around the Standing Stone and the Water Tower.

Continuing investigations around the House

Continuing geophysical survey over Estate.

Investigation of building remains of Piggery and ‘offices’ and other building remains.

Walled Garden survey and drawing.


Targeting the results of the geophysical surveys and any further investigation developing from previous excavations.


Writing up and disseminating results.

Production of information boards and other information material.