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Watching Brief

Date 2013

Event ID 999155

Category Recording

Type Watching Brief


At the mouth of the Water of Leith in the Inner harbour, linking the Albert Dock to the Victoria Dock is a late nineteenth century hydraulically-operated swing bridge that formerly carried a private road and dock railway. The bridge would open by turning or swinging round to the east

with the superstructure of the bridge fitting into a purpose built recess on the quayside. The engine house for the bridge is located slightly to the south-east next to Ocean drive. The bridge no longer operates and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM 3709) and is a category B Listed

Building (HB Number 27644). Although the bridge itself was not affected by the tram works part of the recess for the bridge when it was open on the south side was going to be built over by work to widen the bridge on Ocean Drive. Similar work on the north side of the river had a more limited impact. The ground-works were monitored in accordance with the Written Scheme of Investigation attached to the Scheduled Monument Consent granted by the Scottish Government.

A foundation trench was machine-excavated on the south side of Victoria Swing Bridge, prior to the placement of a structural pile. A cobbled surface and part of a brick wall was uncovered at NGR: NT 7032 6861. The cobbles had been disturbed by the insertion of modern power cables. These were removed to uncover the solid stone foundation of the quayside below which

was then used as a base for the new foundations. The original quayside was protected with geotextile before the new concrete was laid on top.

A watching brief was undertaken during trenching for foundations on the north side of the bridge at the west abutment. Below the existing concrete pavement was a deep deposit of loose brick rubble. As this rubble was being removed a wooden structural pile or pier stanchion was

uncovered. A sample of wood from the pile was taken and has been examined (see belowaccount by Dr Susan Ramsey).

Water was encountered at a depth of 2.1 m below pavement level.

Information from Christine Rennie and Bob Will (Guard Archaeology) 20 February 2013

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