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Standing Building Recording

Date June 2009

Event ID 606185

Category Recording

Type Standing Building Recording


NT 6811 7924 An assessment in 2007 (DES 2007, 70), was followed by a comprehensive historic building survey in June 2009, in advance of major refurbishment and repair. The record was successively up-graded during the work, which was monitored throughout. A series of services and access related excavations were also monitored, or fully excavated under archaeological control (principally the quayside top areas next to the building, particularly along its N side).

The general survey allowed further refinement of the previously reported analysis of the building. The southern

parts of the building incorporate major elements of an earlier structure at ground floor level. This was evidently

the original Spott’s girnell (granary), one of two buildings documented at the site from the mid 17th century. Remains of the second building, a ‘white herring house’, were exposed during the construction of a new disabled access ramp along the N wall of the present building. This structure had been built close to the original bedrock edge of the harbour; rockcut steps led up from the water’s edge to an entrance in the centre of the N side of the structure, all subsequently buried by the later formation of the quayside.

A major remodelling of the upstanding building occurred in the 18th century. Records (assessed by Dr Alasdair Ross) suggest this happened c1738. The structure was doubled in width and raised to three storeys under a double-pile pantiled roof; this and the common joist floor structures that still remain from this period were supported off a central E–W aligned spine wall. The structure was subsequently remodelled repeatedly. In

c1800 the structure was substantially reinforced internally by extensive propping of each floor structure on either side of the spine wall. Many of the new vertical piers were reused sections of ships’ timbers (oak framing elements and pine spar or mast sections). Specialist analysis of these (by Dr Robert Prescott and Dr Dan Atkinson) suggests they were elements of an 18th-century Scottish merchantman, and a rare and important find.

Ventilation slits were inserted throughout the lower storey of the structure and a brick floor was laid. The slits were subsequently blocked and in the rear rooms these were overlain with studs embedded in a plaster lining, onto which were attached lining boards. The double-pile gabled roof structure was replaced in the mid- to late 19th century by a single slated double-pitched structure with hipped ends. The building is still in use as fishermen’s stores and creel-making workshops.

Repair of the surrounding quayside surface required extensive hand-cleaning and a general recording exercise. The former outline of the ‘Holey Quay’, a natural rockbound inlet on the N side of McArthur’s Stores, formalised by the construction of quay walls, was revealed (this had been filled in at the end of the 19th century). The quayside surface preserved extensive areas of cobbling, further stairs down to the water, a WC block and other such features.

Archive: East Lothian Council SMR and RCAHMS

Funder: Dunbar Harbour Trust

Tom Addyman, Kenneth Macfadyen, Sarah Phillips, Florence Boisserie and Amanda Gow – Addyman Archaeology

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