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Edinburgh, 34b Haddington Place, Botanic Cottage

Cottage (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Edinburgh, 34b Haddington Place, Botanic Cottage

Classification Cottage (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Leith Walk; Will Rudd Associates

Canmore ID 136092

Site Number NT27SE 3173

NGR NT 26309 74840

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Architecture Notes

Simple two storey, three bay house of c. 1764-5.

The cottage was the garden house for the Royal Botanic Garden when sited on what is now Haddington Place/Leith Walk. When the cottage was built the land surrounding the garden was open ground on the undulating route that then linked the City of Edinburgh with the Port of Leith.

Research carried out on behalf of the Botanic Cottage Trust by Dr Joe Rock has provided evidence that the design of the cottage involved a number of people, including John Adam, son of William and elder brother of James and Robert Adam; James Craig who drew the plans for Edinburgh's New Town and the Regius Keeper of the Botanic Garden himself, Dr John Hope.

The building was originally thought to have had living accommodation for the gardener of two bedrooms and a kitchen on the ground floor and a large lecture room with small closet or office, presumably for Hope on the first floor. This large room seems to have been painted yellow with its decoration carried out by Alexander Runciman. The internal stair was removed and external stair added to the rear in 1802.

Hope died in 1786, having been a noted botanist and medical man. He had been a friend of Carl Linnaeus (1707-78), the Swedish botanist, known as the Prince of Botany and father of modern taxonomy (the Linneaus Monument designed by Robert Adam is now in the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh in Inverleith, see RCAHMS (NT27NW 36.01). Hope had also taught a large number of students in the lecture theatre, probably including William Roxburgh, later the Keeper of the Botanic Garden of India, Calcutta.

In 1820-22 the garden moved to its current home in the Inverleith area of Edinburgh. The cottage became a residence and the lecture room subdivided. The area around the cottage was full of market gardens and in the C19 a succession of gardeners and their families resided in the cottage.

In the early C20, a tenement built next to the cottage by the St Cuthbert’s Co-operative Association caused the demolition of the SW gable and thus the shortening of the cottage.

With the higher levelling of Leith Walk in the C19, the cottage viewed from the street appeared to be only a single storey; though access remained through the front door accessed by steps until the late C20 when the central window of the first floor was converted into a door and a bridge added.

A number of businesses were based in the cottage in the late C20, but the cottage was empty except for squatters and awaiting demolition when there was a fire on the ground floor. After action by the Botanic Cottage Working Group, the Heritage Lottery Fund gave money for an archaeological survey of the cottage in 2008 and with the help of the developer for the site, the cottage was taken down and the site cleared.

It is intended that the cottage will be rebuilt within the current Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.



Measured Survey (2008)

Photographic Survey (2008)

Archaeological Evaluation (January 2013 - March 2015)

NT 26314 74839 A programme of work was undertaken in advance of the development of the former site of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Located between the McDonald Road Library to the N and the St Cuthbert’s tenements to the S, the site of the former gardens and the original location of the Botanic Cottage is being developed into a mix of student housing and commercial space.

Haddington Place was the home of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens from 1763 until 1821, at which point they were relocated to a larger, more remote site at Inverleith where they remain today. In 1764, a gardener’s cottage was constructed at the entrance to the gardens to provide

accommodation for the gardeners as well as lecture space for students. After the gardens left the site, the lands were sold off and subsequently developed. Though the grounds had changed, the cottage remained, over time becoming known as the ‘Botanic Cottage’. By the end of the 20th century, the cottage was derelict. Permission to demolish the cottage was

granted by the City of Edinburgh Council in 2007.

With the demolition of the cottage imminent, a number of interested parties formed the Botanic Cottage Project Group. Working in close conjunction with The Friends of Hopetoun Crescent Garden, a grant was secured from the HLF to investigate the history of the site and record the cottage prior to demolition. Part of this remit was to undertake an investigation of the cottage and surviving grounds in conjunction with community involvement.

The archaeological works that followed on the site of the former garden occurred over a two year period and took the form of multiple stages of investigations. These investigations included: a two-phased evaluation, the excavation of the Botanic Cottage footprint with the help of volunteers from the RBGE and wider community, the monitoring of engineering test pits, the recording and controlled dismantling of the surviving garden boundary wall, and the full scale site excavation immediately prior to development.

Evaluation – cottage site (January 2013) An initial smallscale evaluation aimed to answer a number of architectural questions relating to the re-erection of the cottage in Inverleith, as well as to gain information on stratigraphy and depth of deposits prior to the community excavation in 2014.

In all, three trenches were excavated. Trenches 1 and 2 across the foundations of the Botanic Cottage, and Trench 3 along the top eastern face of the surviving garden boundary wall. Trench 1 did not show how the floor levels were constructed, but hinted at the use of flagstones on top of

an infilled layer of sand and gravel. Both Trenches 1 and 2 showed that the cottage had no substantial foundations, but was instead constructed directly upon the existing ground surface. Trench 1 conclusively proved that the floor across this part of the cottage was of timber construction, although it is not possible to confirm that this was always the case.

The evaluation of Trench 1 and the area to the exterior of the cottage demonstrated that major site works had removed all upper deposits relating to the cottage, although clearly some remnants of the botanic garden soil set within negatively cut features could survive. Trench 3 was problematic to excavate, but certainly indicated that the upper dressed stones facing the W and Leith Walk were simple, without the elaborate

design indicated in the drawings of c1780.

Evaluation – wider site (July 2014) The wider site evaluation and excavation of the Botanic Cottage footprint was led by Ross Cameron with assistance from Andrew Morrison, and included volunteers from the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh as well as members of the Friends of Hopetoun Crescent Garden. The evaluation was conducted by Kenneth MacFadyen and involved the excavation of six trenches spread across the proposed development area.

The excavation and evaluations at Haddington Place at this point had shown that the soil and ground surface of the botanic gardens survived near intact across much of the lower-lying part of the site, to the W of the still-surviving former garden boundary wall. Garden related deposits were

located in every trench, with only Trench 02 from 2013 and Trench 4 excavated in 2014 indicating that this had been disturbed to some degree. However, in both trenches it was clear that garden features still survived, with patches of garden soil being uncovered in Trench 02 and negatively cut features revealed across Trench 4.

Where the trenches cut through the garden soil, a wide variety of features were located as well as a large volume of terracotta garden pot fragments. The discovery of a possible well in Trench 2 was unexpected, with none of the historic maps consulted indicating that a well was on site. Surviving

garden features were recorded within the evaluation trenches, particularly to the S, and included possible pathways and a buried stave-built barrel filled with lime. Where garden features were recorded, these were often seen to contain deposits of cinders.

The survival of the old ground surface and significant deposits of garden soils was noted as remarkable for an area that was so heavily used. Clearly, important negatively cut features including paths and bedding plants survived which have the potential to shed an enormous amount of

light on the use and layout of the garden during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The stratigraphy within the Botanic Cottage was relatively simple, with few internal architectural features or partitions noted relating to the building’s use during the garden’s occupation. Evidence suggests that the northern side of the cottage had a timber floor as part of its original construction,

while the southern side was more likely to have been laid with a flagstone floor, since robbed. A cobbled surface was also located below one of the windows along the building’s frontage, providing a glipse at the type of landscaping that likely would have filled the area within the curve of the

boundary wall in front of the cottage.

One important discovery was the strengthening of the foundations in the NW corner of the cottage. This can only have been done if a particularly heavy object or structural works were placed above. It seems likely that this was the location of the staircase prior to the construction of the

external stair tower. The strengthening of the foundations in this point may also have been due to the lack of substantial buried foundations as the excavation proved the cottage had been built directly onto the existing ground surface.

Engineering test pits – monitoring (November 2014) A series of 13 engineering test pits placed and excavated to the requirements of the site engineers were monitored and recorded. In addition, a large trench was excavated along the eastern face of the E wall that formed the original boundary of the botanic gardens prior to its dismantling.

Excavations revealed the eastern face of the boundary wall to be in excellent condition, with the entrance quoining intact and showed that the doorway within the wall had probably found a secondary use after the botanic gardens had left the site, prior to being blocked with bricks before the service station was built. A small sondage NE of the entrance potentially revealed the original 18th-century exterior ground surface, and also yielded datable artefactual materials.

Test pitting revealed the made ground on the eastern half of the site to be mostly demolition deposits overlying garden soils. The eastern boundary wall was shown not to survive beneath the made ground, N of the upstanding section and crosswall. It was also revealed that the petrol tanks relating to the service station had previously been removed from site.

The test pits that were excavated along the N and S boundaries of the site did not reveal any new information, but did locate the foundations of the library building, tenement block, and southern boundary wall.

General excavation (February – March 2015) An excavation, led by Andrew Morrison, was undertaken which included opportunities for regularly scheduled public tours organised through the RBGE whilst work was in progress. The tours allowed interested parties, specifically the volunteers

who had participated in the dig, one final opportunity to see and experience the original botanic gardens prior to development.

The excavation area measured c50m N/S by 16m E/W, and was confined to the lower portion of the site along Annadale Street Lane. The area to be affected by the new building’s footprint. After the monitored and recorded dismantling of the surviving botanic garden boundary wall, mid- to late

20th -century rubble and overburden deposits across the site were removed using a mechanical excavator. With the underlying soils revealed, excavations proceeded by hand. A comprehensive soil sampling strategy was employed for the garden soil deposits and written and photographic record produced.

The excavations established that a considerable depth of garden soils and garden related features survived in situ below the later 19th- and 20th-century occupation deposits. Deep deposits of garden soils were well preserved to the S and N ends of the site, with most of the central area having been compacted and disturbed by the construction of a structure

relating to the 20th-century service station. Significant garden features were uncovered including: garden paths, drainage systems, planting beds, hedge-lines, and tree throws; these features are thought to relate to the 18th- and early 19th-century botanic gardens, and the later use of the site as a possible market garden. Earlier finds and features relating the site’s use as feu lands prior to the foundation of the botanic gardens were also noted, with isolated plough strikes and pit features underlying the garden soils and cutting into the natural subsoil.

Overlying the garden deposits in the N end of the site, the remains of a cluster of Victorian brick structures and features were uncovered. Features here included a post alignment, low walls and floor surfaces, and a group of in situ Minton polychrome hearth tiles.

Archive: NRHE (intended)

Funder: S Harrison Developments Ltd and the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

Information from Andrew Morrison (Addyman Archaeology) July 2014.

OASIS ID: addymana1-185918


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