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St Andrews, Abbey Street, Byre Theatre

Backlands (Medieval), Structure(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name St Andrews, Abbey Street, Byre Theatre

Classification Backlands (Medieval), Structure(S) (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 108951

Site Number NO51NW 280.01

NGR NO 5115 1657

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish St Andrews And St Leonards
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NO51NW 280.01 5115 1657

NO 5115 1657 An archaeological evaluation was undertaken of part of the site of the proposed new Byre Theatre. The remainder of the site was still covered by the existing theatre at the time of this evaluation in July 1996 and may be the subject of a second evaluation at a later date. The evaluation comprised a desk-based assessment of documentary sources, test excavations, samples and artefact assessments. The site was probably first developed in the 12th century when rigs were established running S from South Street. The evaluation area spans one of these rigs and the backlands of properties fronting onto Abbey Street. Excavation demonstrated that medieval and post-medieval deposits, 0.8-1.2m deep, survive in all areas except one immediately adjacent to the existing Byre Theatre. In the W part of the evaluation area, within the South Street rig, these deposits comprise medieval and later soils suggesting that this rig remained undeveloped. In the E part, in the back of the Abbey Street properties, there are features (pits, walls and rubble spreads) associated with pottery of 13th to 15th-century date. These are overlain by a soil also containing medieval pottery which in turn is covered by a recent topsoil. This suggests that Abbey Street was most extensively developed in the medieval period and subsequently declined with later use of the backlands limited to cultivation/gardens.

Sponsor: Nicoll Russell Studios.

S Carter 1996

NO 5115 1657 Archaeological excavation at the Byre Theatre identified a well-stratified sequence of medieval deposits relating to the town's early development. An early, well-constructed stone building of uncertain function, containing the base of a large relieving arch, was identified within a property fronting onto Abbey Street. This building pre-dated the planned layout of South Street which was evident in the form of a series of parallel property boundaries. Evidence of economic development in the 13th to 14th centuries was present in the contents of a number of large rubbish pits identified in the backlands of the South Street property. Large quantities of imported pottery and glazed floor and roof tile were recovered, indicative of an affluent resident at the South Street frontage. In addition to a significant animal bone assemblage, a well-preserved macroplant assemblage was recovered providing a further glimpse into the diet of the medieval residents of St Andrews. A corn-drying kiln was also identified in the backlands of the South Street property. The final phase of activity was represented by a thick garden soil which was deposited over the site by the 15th to 16th century. The site remained in horticultural use until developed for use as a theatre.

Sponsor: The Byre Theatre.

C Moloney 1998

See NMRS MS/1207/1-9.


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