EAFS Spring Newsletter

Chairman’s Remarks April 2020

We would like to wish all our members best wishes in these exceptional times and hope you are all keeping safe and well.

It is unfortunate that we have had to pause in our lectures and excavations but hope to return reinvigorated at the end of the current lockdown.

Those of us with gardens have been doing a different kind of digging and others have been digging in the World Wide Web to find items of interest and virtual tours of archaeological sites and articles. Now is the time to revisit books we haven’t had time to finish and start those that have been lying on our shelves. There is plenty of research to be done and material to collate as well as on-line courses to sign up for.

Keep busy, keep safe and we look forward to seeing you all again as soon as we can get back to normal.

Society News

The Society’s new web-site is now up and running at www.eafs.org.uk

Membership Subscriptions

Members are reminded that the 2020 / 2021 subscriptions are now due .and that the increases agreed at the 2019 AGM will be in force from 1st May 2020

These are as follows:-

Single                                    20.00

Family                                   30.00

Concession Single*         15.00     Concession ¾ of Single/Family rate

Concession Family**      22.50

Country Single#                15.00

Country Family#               22.50

Institution                           50.00

*Junior (under 19), Full-time Student, Unemployed and Senior Citizen

**Where all members are eligible for the concessionary rate

#Country: over 25 miles from east end of Princes Street

Remaining lectures for 2020

Wednesday 21 October

Olwyn Owen

Wednesday 18 November

Val Dean

Siller Holes
Wednesday 9 December

Society Members

AGM & Social Evening

 Lectures and the AGM are held at 7.30pm in the Edinburgh Cine and Video Society,        23a Fettes Row, Edinburgh, EH3 6RH

Geophysical Survey at  Lochend  House,  Dunbar

EAFS carried out a geophysical survey at Lochend House Dunbar on Saturday 14th March. The site is a former 17th century mansion house owned by the Baillie family, of which only a gable wall with a large window survives.

We surveyed 2 grids through some very scrubby woodland at the corner of Kellie Road and Baillie Court. Results indicated a possible round or U-shaped high resistance anomaly to the South East of site close to the surviving remains.

A topographical survey was also carried out to accurately locate the site in its landscape context.



Cammo Update.

This is a short summary of where we have got to in our excavations at Cammo Cottages. Those of you who have been keeping an eye on Ian Hawkins alerts will have kept up with the story and those on Facebook have been entertained by Joyce Herriot’s posts.

We have almost completed the work at the cottages and hope when things return to normal to have fully excavated all parts of the structure. We have the excellent services of Neil Simpson to survey the buildings and provide an accurate plan. We have plenty of finds to investigate and hope to organise some finds washing and cataloguing later on this year. Some of our finds are causing us some excitement. We have a brick that is new to the Brick expert which Bruce Harvey has been researching.

Uncovering the large fireplace in the West end ‘room’ has brought some interesting fire furniture to our collection. It is a larger fireplace than the others and slightly raised up. We have found a similar pattern of clay pipe deposits around the fireplace. These have come out of the fireplaces in both the western ‘rooms’ but not the Eastern ‘room’ which was where we believe Margaret Wright, the ex-Housekeeper/Cook was living. From this we can infer something about the use of the different rooms.

Looking at the now exposed walls we can also infer a rebuilding of the range of buildings at some point. Looking in the records this could well have occurred at the time the ‘New’ Stables were being built in 1811 when we learn of ‘making additions to and improvements upon the Mansion House and in building and erecting new farm steadings.’ As we know from earlier maps that there were buildings on the site in 1805 and possibly before.

Before work was suspended there was a meeting with the Ranger about consolidation of the range of buildings and for a walkway through the buildings to be opened up so that the public could visit and with an interpretation panel understand some of the history we have uncovered in this interesting excavation.

Our next part of the project will be to start work on the range of buildings currently known as ‘the piggery’.

Christine McPherson


For several decades after the 1560 Reformation only the interior layout of the church would have changed: altars were removed, the pulpit became the focus, and communion was served at ordinary tables. During the compulsory long sermons, most of the congregation would sit on portable stools and benches, but the parish’s lairds sought fixed seating. Minutes of a January 1623 kirk session reveal that Thomas Hope of Craighall, laird of West Granton, and his neighbour Walter Henryson of East Granton had constructed family ‘stalls’, while the session agreed to move the pulpit into the middle of the church so that the minister’s wife and daughter could continue to have seats next to it.

In Sepember 1630 a proposal from Sir Thomas Hope (now Lord Advocate) to build a new aisle on the north side was welcomed by the elders and heritors as a ‘good and honorable work’ for ‘both the strengthening and ornament’ of their church. On 28 April 1632 a meeting attended by the lairds of Barnton, Cammo and Lennie, Nether Cramond and Cramond Regis, agreed that Hope’s new aisle would extend from ‘the cunyie [quoin] quhilk divides the kirk from the queer [choir]’, westwards by ‘fourteen foote of daye light’, and the pulpit would be relocated  ‘within the bodie of the queer’. Evidently the chancel or choir (thought to be the surviving Cramond Vault) had not yet been sealed off from the rest of the church. This meeting also considered adding new aisles on the south side of the church, to be paid for by other lairds if they chose. One of these would enlarge the choir southwards by fourteen feet, while a second would require the construction of a new door to replace an existing one ‘for entrie of the people’, and a third might be built west of Lord Balmerino’s aisle for the parishioners. The location of Balmerino’s aisle is not explained, but it is mentioned again in 1636 when Balmerino (laird of Barnton and patron of the parish) worried that a change in the pulpit’s position might limit his view.  Hope also complained in 1636 that ‘part of the stool [of repentance] and a part of the head of the pulpit’ overlapped his own aisle but agreed to allow the minister access to the pulpit through it.

A new plan agreed in 1643 does not mention south aisles. The session, finding major repairs necessary ‘in respect of the ruinousness both of the walles and rooff as also the narrownes of the said kirk, quhilk is not able to accommodate and ease the haill parochiners for the hearing of gods word’, undertook to demolish the whole of the north wall and rebuild it ten feet further out, ‘making the kirk and queir 30 foote broode’. Sixteen feet of this breadth, in the middle, would be free of fixed seats to allow for communion tables, and the rest on either side allocated for ‘desks’ or pews. Lord Balmerino offered to contribute one-fifth of the total cost of £5000 Scots, the rest to be divided among the heritors by a rate on the value of their lands.

This scheme may have been postponed until the spring of 1656, when the church was still reported to be ‘ruinous’. A statement in 1659 by Sir Alexander Hope, son of the Lord Advocate (d. 1646), that he had ‘condiscended for inlarging the breadth of the church’ that the length of his aisle own aisle be cut by four feet, suggests that this was the earlier plan. A session minute of 14 September 1656 records agreement that the roof should be ‘thackit with tylles’. This leaves the question of whether it was it a medieval stone roof that had fallen into ruin.

These documents, other than the post-1651 kirk session minutes, survive in the archives strictly because they concern private property rights in these heritable aisles. They include no plans or drawings, and as I have insufficient skill to construct drawings from the written word I will be depositing my transcripts at Cramond Maltings for anyone who would like to try.

Norah Carlin April 2020


Over the last 12 months or so the areas around West Craigs and Meadowfield Farms have been subject to intensive archaeological investigations in advance of two major new developments which will see over 1500 new homes and a new school being constructed. As part of these developments we managed to secure the preservation of the two milestones on Turnhouse Road along with the Victorian cottages on Turnhouse road and the Georgian West Craigs farmhouse.

Last summer GUARD Archaeology undertook a programme of archaeological evaluation, including metal detecting, across Meadowfield Farm. Although most of the area proved largely sterile apart from traces of medieval/post-medieval rig and furrow, GUARD’s work did identify several areas containing significant remains (including a pit full of Neolithic pottery), principally along the ridge of high ground running across the north of the area towards and including West Craigs Farm.

CFA Archaeology subsequently won the contract to undertake the secondary phase of open area excavations, which started in earnest in January. However, due to the Coronavirus crisis, this work has had to be halted on site, but the results so far have been very exciting. Although the Neolithic pit discovered by GUARD at the western edge of the ridge seems to be an isolated feature, work closer to West Craigs has unearthed a very puzzling feature.

Sandwiched between natural outcropping of bedrock with views westwards to Huly Hill and Cairnpapple, CFA are unearthing a large circular structure with what appear to be a slab entrance and the remains of rubble walls? When last I visited no discernible internal post holes or hearths had been found though, importantly, prehistoric pottery was coming up. The question arises what is it? Is it the remains of a disturbed cairn? (Fig 1)


Figure 1

At the same time as CFA are working at Meadowfield, AOC Archaeology are undertaking the excavation and building record of the farm at West Craigs. What they have uncovered is what appears to be a late Iron Age/1st Millennium AD palisaded enclosure with internal hut circles and external pits and ditches. (Fig 2)

Figure 2

Once completed the results from these two sites will help further add to the growing evidence for the importance of the River Almond and Gogar/Maybury area for prehistoric occupation. Indeed, the results are already proving to be of regional if not national importance.

John A Lawson, MA, MCIFA, FSA Scot  Archaeology Officer        City of Edinburgh Council Archaeology Service

Avenues to explore

As events and exhibitions are cancelled there are various sources online to keep us occupied.

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the upkeep of many monuments in Scotland and many of them have Statements of Significance which provide much detail from Neolithic tombs to castles and much more in between.  They are also responsible for Canmore.

Archaeology Scotland and Society of Antiquaries have a large selection of websites to follow and lectures to watch.

Other sites include Am Baile which shows many old photos of the Highlands and Hebridean Collections does a similar function for the Western Isles.

One site I found particularly interesting was National Library of Scotland, Moving Image Archive which has films about St Kilda, many clips of Edinburgh, Glasgow and further afield.

If you are a member of Edinburgh City Libraries, you can download books online.

Talking of books some of our members have been publishing:-

Ian McHaffie, Greek Secrets Revealed- Hidden Scottish History Uncovered Book 1-Edinburgh Greek Inscriptions.

Norah Carlin Link to the publisher: Norah Carlin – Regicide or Revolution? – Breviary Stuff

Norah has spent many years researching & writing this up.

The dozens of petitions addressed to Parliament and the army in the five months before Charles I’s execution are widely recognised as having influenced the events that led to his trial and death. Some historians have argued that they were no more than a propaganda campaign engineered by a small number of political and military leaders. There has never before been a comprehensive examination of the actual texts (over sixty in number) though only the whole body of them in all its diversity can offer a real prospect of assessing their contribution. This book presents each petition in full, with as much information as could be gathered about its background and context.  The evidence suggests that although sometimes prompted from above, all but a few were produced by groups of activists in meetings and discussion, and gained the support of larger numbers of subscribers. Contrary to a widespread belief, none of them call directly for the king’s death, but many expand on their own interpretation of the civil wars and more recent events, or call for reforms in the law and society that reveal a wider vision of revolution for England.

Next Newsletter

The next Newsletter will be issued in the Autumn 2020. All Contributions welcomed.

 Until then, enjoy your archaeology!

Editor: Graeme H Bettison

(Opinions expressed in this Newsletter are not necessarily those of the Society, its Committee and Members, or the Editor).