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144-166 Cowgate, Cowgate Nursery

Midden (Period Unassigned), Structure(S) (Period Unassigned), Wall(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name 144-166 Cowgate, Cowgate Nursery

Classification Midden (Period Unassigned), Structure(S) (Period Unassigned), Wall(S) (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 268572

Site Number NT27SE 5890

NGR NT 258 735

NGR Description NT c.258 735

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. 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

Archaeology Notes

NT27SE 5890 c.258 735

NT 258 735 An evaluation involving the excavation of five trenches was carried out between October 2002 and January 2003 on the site of the former Cowgate Nursery School. Significant archaeological deposits survived beneath the proposed development site. The earliest were medieval midden deposits which were identified in all trenches at a minimum of 1m below the present ground surface. It is clear from a previous borehole survey that these deposits are up to 3m thick in the E of the site. Stone walls, surfaces and culverts were constructed on top of these midden deposits. These are likely to have related to buildings constructed on either side of closes depicted on maps from the 16th century onwards. An assemblage of mainly post-medieval artefacts was recovered from the site, although some medieval material was also recovered.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: Castle Rock Housing Association.

E Jones 2003

NT 258 735 As the result of a previous evaluation (DES 2003, 68), an archaeological excavation was carried out between March and November 2004, followed by a watching brief, prior to the construction of sheltered housing on the site.

A clay-bonded stone building was discovered at the W end of the site, believed to be one of the first buildings in this part of the Cowgate. Map evidence and pottery retrieved from the building suggest a 14th- to 15th-century date.

The S side of the building was demolished to make room for a wall that ran parallel with the present line of Cowgate. This wall was 0.8m wide and over 30m long, with no other transverse walls abutting or keyed into it, suggesting that it was a boundary wall. A section across the full depth of the wall, exposed during the watching brief, suggested that it was built along the N side of a parallel ditch.

To the E, a second wall was uncovered during the watching briefon the same alignment. This was 1.8m thick and at least 8.5m long. Its dimensions, location and alignment strongly suggest that it was a defensive wall, most probably the King's Wall, commissioned in 1427.

Both these walls pre-date the main development of the Cowgate frontage, which suggests a 15th- or an early 16th-century date at the latest. If the walls were part of the King's Wall, they would have become obsolete by the time of the construction of the Flodden Wall in 1513. By this time, the two walls would have been partly robbed out and probably used in the construction of the early buildings along the Cowgate frontage.

Report to be lodged with Edinburgh SMR and the NMRS.

Sponsor: Castle Rock Housing Association.


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