13/07/2018
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Excavations at Newcraighall show a landscape of change

94e1d206-bcde-44ff-a882-7b5251f3fe44

Archaeological investigations coupled with historical research of Newcraighall on the south-east edge of Edinburgh reveal a complex story of land use changes from prehistory to the present day.

Between 2011 and 2016, GUARD Archaeology teams led by Alan Hunter Blair undertook a series of surveys and excavations across land that had previously been part of the policies of Brunstane House and and Newhailes House.

While the earliest activity encountered comprised groups of pits dating to the late Mesolithic/early Neolithic, late Neolithic and Bronze Age, the majority of features dated from the medieval and post-medieval periods through to modern times.

These included various sized coal pits or shafts, and the foundations of four colliery buildings, arranged around a now infilled mineshaft on the southern site. Elements of a designed landscape associated with Brunstane House included a ha-ha that traversed the northern site.

The presence of several large culverts may also have connections with both landscape alterations and the coal-mining industry. Fragments of curved and linear ditches appear to be remnants of earlier field systems dating from the medieval and post-medieval periods and associated with extensive remnants of broad rig cultivation found across the two areas.

Complex land ownership

The historical research demonstrates the complexities of landownership with evidence of the development of coal mining and coal ownership and the social and economic realities of the times. Examination of papers relating to Brunstane House showed that they had direct bearing on the understanding and dating of the landscaping features and other groundworks, including changes to the estate boundaries and the runrig system. A labourer’s diary from the winter of 1735-6 was an especially interesting find from the point of view of what work was undertaken on the estate, by whom and for how much.

This project shows the value of combining two subject areas together, from their partial bodies of evidence, to produce a much more rounded view of the life of the times from the landowner to the coal miner during the post-medieval and early modern periods.

The full results of this research, which was funded by Barratt & David Wilson Homes East Scotland and Avant Homes, ARO29: Newcraighall, Edinburgh: A landscape of change through its archaeology and history by Alan Hunter Blair and Morag Cross is freely available to download from the ARO website.

Back to "Scottish archaeology" Category

13/07/2018 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Painter William Dyce was born - On this day in history

Scottish painter William Dyce was born on 19 September 1806.


Historian Gilbert Burnet was born - On this day in history

Scottish historian Gilbert Burnet was born on 18 September 1643.


Precious David Linvingstone tableaux painstakingly restored as part of a £6.1M heritage project

A group of precious polychromatic plaster tableaux depicting David Livingstone's historic journey to Africa ...


David Dunbar Buick was born - On this day in history

Scottish inventor David Dunbar Buick was born on 17 September 1854.


Other Articles

On this day in Scottish history - King James VII of Scotland died

King James VII of Scotland died on 16 September 1701. ...


The Hector emigrant ship left Loch Broom bound for Canada

The Hector emigrant ship left Loch Broom bound for Canada on 15 September 1773.


Geographer Robert Gordon was born - On this day in history

Scottish geographer Robert Gordon of Straloch was born on 14 September 1580. ...


Call and Response: The University of Glasgow & Slavery

Members of the public are invited to react and respond to a new exhibition at the University of Glasgow that ...