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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 783016

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NT27SE 1.33 centred 25318 73502

NT 253 734 A watching brief was carried out in January 1998 on work on the S side of the Esplanade. The slope as seen today is likely to be highly artificial, although in a limited number of areas bedrock can be seen. This is a yellow sandstone, forming part of the 'tail' of the crag-and-tail formation that the Castle and High Street sit on, representing soft deposits shielded from the glacial scouring by the hard basalt of the Castle Rock. In 1753 spoil from the construction of what is now the City Chambers was used to level off the area, to form a parade ground, an arrangement formalised between 1816-20, when the Esplanade as it stands today was constructed. A number of walls are visible through geophysical survey running across the slope, presumably built as retaining walls, which may relate to either of these phases of construction, or to other undocumented work. It should be noted that no walls are shown on the 1877 OS map, although areas of bedrock are clearly shown.

Excavation of four test-pits showed evidence for a surprising depth of deposits (1.2-2.3m+) across this slope. This material is almost all likely to represent 18th-century or later landscaping, raising the possibility that medieval features may survive underneath, if use was made of this area in that period. It was not possible to relate any of the upstanding revetting walls encountered to any of the excavated areas, but it seems likely, on cartographic grounds, that they all post-date 1877.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Murray 1998.

NT 2537 7352 The Esplanade. A watching brief was carried out in October 1999 on two holes dug for the siting of a new notice board in the NE corner of the castle esplanade, immediately to the E of the ticket caravan. The westernmost trench removed an anchor point for the Tattoo scaffolding. The main deposits seen were thought most likely to be levelling material imported during large-scale changes to the esplanade, of unknown but relatively recent date.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

A Dunn 2000.

NT 254 735 A watching brief was required between March and May 2005 during the installation of electrical supplies around the S, E and N perimeters of Edinburgh Castle Esplanade (NT27SE 5). The watching brief confirmed that a substantial depth of relatively modern material, probably deriving from the 18th century onwards, forms the level ground of the esplanade. No other significant archaeology was encountered.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsor: City of Edinburgh Council.

L Scott, E Bailey 2005

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