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Edinburgh, Leith, Burgess Street

No Class (Event)

Site Name Edinburgh, Leith, Burgess Street

Classification No Class (Event)

Alternative Name(s) Water Street; Shore Place

Canmore ID 51966

Site Number NT27NE 49

NGR NT 2705 7640

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/51966

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

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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

NT27NE 49 2705 7640.

No archaeological deposits earlier than the eighteenth century were located.

N M M Holmes 1976; A T Simpson, S Stevenson and N Holmes 1981.

NT 2705 7640 (centre) Trial trenching was carried out in August 1993 to evaluate the archaeological deposits on a potential development site. Eight trenches were excavated which demonstrated that the eastern third of the site had been cleared to natural sand by landscaping, and no archaeological deposits survived. The remaining two-thirds of the site conatined intact and complex archaeologicaln deposits with evidence for stone-built structures.

Trench A/I A hand-dug trench adjacent to an upstanding ruined building. No archaeologiacl deposits were encountered, and modern demolition debris overlay natural beach sand c0.20m below the surface.

Trench A/II The trench contained a large late medieval/early post-medieval wall footing and associated stone-built oven, with a base of yellow-glazed tiles. Below this was 0.50m of medieval deposits, identical in character to those excavated at the E end of Trench A/III. Artefacts recovered from the trench suggest that the deposits date to the 16th century and earlier.

Trench A/III The external coner of the foundations of a large stone building were uncovered, with a substantial stone-built, clay-lined vat attached to it. The deliberate backfilling of this vat contained no pottery later than the 15th century. This stone building had been built over an extensive spread of debris from an industrial process which in turn sealed a series of midden deposits identical to those found in Trench A/II to the N. Within the midden deposits, hearths and post holes were recognised, indicating the presence of building remains in this area. None of the artefacts recovered from the midden are dated later than the 15th century.

Trench A/IV No archaeological deposits were found in this trench. A World War II air-raid shelter, built of reinforced concrete was uncovered at the S end of the trench.

Trench B/I All deposits in this trench had been removed during the landscaping of the site.

Trench B/II Although the upper levels in this trench had been disturbed by modern building foundations, medieval remains, again of the 15th century or earlier date were found intact below these structures, extending full length of the trench. Features included pits and hearths.

Trench B/III A depth of more than 1.40m of archaeological deposits and structures were explored, which represent the remains of buildings dating from the mid-17th century back to the 13th century or possibly earlier.

Trench C/I A complex series of deposits, including stone packed post holes and hearths were recorded within a depth of more than 0.50m of archaeological deposits.

Sponsor: Dept of Housing, City of Edinburgh District Council

M Collard 1993.

Large scale excavation of the site was carried out from June to November 1994 prior to development. Four trenches were excavated; located over the areas of substantial archaeological deposits and structures previously identified. A survey was also carried out of the upstanding structures within the development area.

Trench A: The earliest features were cross-cutting cultivation marks in the natural sand. These were overlain by substantial middens; preliminary dating of the pottery suggests the middens date from the 12th to the 13th century. A 12th/13th-century oven was located on the S edge of Trench A and a hearth found on the E side of the trench may be contemporary.

The foundations of a mid to late medieval structure of mortared rubble construction were located on the W side of the trench. The structure was orientated E-W with a horseshoe-shaped, stone-lined tank on its NE external corner. To the E of this structure were the foundations of a second stone building, apparently of similar age, with a large fireplace in its N wall, its base formed from yellow glazed tiles. A sandstone- lined well, probably post-medieval, located near the centre, remained unexcavated below water level. Adjacent to the well was a stone-built tank with flagstone floor and infilled with early 19th-century debris.

Trench B: This area had been at both the N and S ends disturbed by modern landscaping. The S end of the trench was truncated to the level of 12th 13th-century middens overlying natural beach sand. In the centre of the trench were the stone foundations of a medieval structure consisting of a substantial curving wall with five sleeper walls protecting radially from its outer face, creating discrete areas with central areas of burning. Provisional dating suggests this structure dates to the 14th/15th centuries. The foundations of a substantial mid-17th-century stone building, fronting onto Water Street, overlay this structure on the E side.

Trench E/I: This area contained a complex sequence of medieval midden spreads, dating from the 12th century overlying natural beach sand. The middens were cut by various later medieval and post-medieval pits. The foundations of a large E-W orientated post-medieval building overlay the middens.

Trench E/II: This represented the main area of excavation and was totally excavated, to a depth of up to 2.3m ofarchaeological deposits. Within this area several residual prehistoric flint artefacts were recovered although no pre-medieval contexts were identified.

The initial phase of occupation was represented by five double-flued bowl furnaces associated with a complex array of post holes and stake holes representing timber structures. This industrial activity was separated by a fence-line from an adjacent plot which was in use for cultivation. demonstrated by the presence of plough and spade marks within the primary soil deposits. Post dating the furnaces were the clay-cored stone foundations of two N-S orientated buildings (provisionally dated to the mid-late 12th century).

The northern building appeared to have had an earlier purely timber, phase. A large rectangular clay-built cistern was situated to the N of the buildings with associated alignments of post holes which may also represent further timber buildings associated with this phase of activity. To the E, above the earlier cultivation, rich and extensive midden deposits were found, containing particularly dense accumulations of oyster shells. The next phase of the building at the N end of the trench incorporated a line of three bread ovens within its W wall.

Following the disuse of the ovens a complex sequence of building from the 13th century to the late medieval period was revealed with continual re-use of pre-existing walls, all walls being of clay-cored rubble construction. Towards the later medieval period this area displayed evidence of cultivation with the accumulation of soil deposits over earlier structures. The N-S aligned property boundaries established in the earliest phase were maintained throughout this period.

The character of the occupation apparently changed in the mid 17th century when substantial mortar-bonded stone buildings apparently for industrial purposes, were constructed across much of the site, with subsequent rebuilding and structural alterations.

Sponsors: Port of Leith Housing Association (on behalf of Scottish Homes) and City of Edinburgh District Council.

M A Collard and D Reed 1994.

NT 2706 7639 (centre) A watching brief was undertaken during May 1995 to monitor the excavation of service and foundation trenches, for housing construction. Six areas were excavated (F-K) totalling c3000sqm, revealing a complex series of deposits which complemented those previously revealed during the 1993 and 1994 seasons (Collard 1993; Collard and Reed 1994).

More extensive evidence for the previously recorded early medieval cultivation, pre-dating the accumulation of midden deposits in the 12th/13th centuries, was revealed within areas G,J and K. With the exception of area I, all areas contained midden layers and associated pits, starting in the 12th/13th centuries and continuing into the post-medieval period. These midden deposits were found to extend beyond the limits of the site to the S and W (under Shore Place) and E (under Water Street). The maximum depth of deposit was reached to the S of Bowies Close (1.70m), with the average being between 0.50m and 1.0m.

The limited remains of medieval clay-bonded structures were also recovered. These structures respected the modern street frontages of both Shore Place and Bowies Close, and their alignment was maintained into the post-medieval period.

Sponsors: Port of Leith Housing Association (on behalf of Scottish Homes) and City of Edinburgh District Council.

J A Lawson 1995.

NT 2706 7639 An early post-medieval, sandstone-lined well was discovered during the 1994 excavations at Burgess Street (Collard and Reed 1994). The well, 0.98m in diameter, was excavated in July 1996 to a depth of 2.3m. The deposits of the backfill contained 19th-century finds. The well does not appear on the 2nd edition OS map of 1895.

Sponsors: Port of Leith Housing Association (on behalf of Scottish Homes), City of Edinburgh Council.

D Reed 1996.

Activities

Excavation (August 1993)

NT 2705 7640 (centre) Trial trenching was carried out in August 1993 to evaluate the archaeological deposits on a potential development site. Eight trenches were excavated which demonstrated that the eastern third of the site had been cleared to natural sand by landscaping, and no archaeological deposits survived. The remaining two-thirds of the site conatined intact and complex archaeologicaln deposits with evidence for stone-built structures.

Trench A/I A hand-dug trench adjacent to an upstanding ruined building. No archaeologiacl deposits were encountered, and modern demolition debris overlay natural beach sand c0.20m below the surface.

Trench A/II The trench contained a large late medieval/early post-medieval wall footing and associated stone-built oven, with a base of yellow-glazed tiles. Below this was 0.50m of medieval deposits, identical in character to those excavated at the E end of Trench A/III. Artefacts recovered from the trench suggest that the deposits date to the 16th century and earlier.

Trench A/III The external coner of the foundations of a large stone building were uncovered, with a substantial stone-built, clay-lined vat attached to it. The deliberate backfilling of this vat contained no pottery later than the 15th century. This stone building had been built over an extensive spread of debris from an industrial process which in turn sealed a series of midden deposits identical to those found in Trench A/II to the N. Within the midden deposits, hearths and post holes were recognised, indicating the presence of building remains in this area. None of the artefacts recovered from the midden are dated later than the 15th century.

Trench A/IV No archaeological deposits were found in this trench. A World War II air-raid shelter, built of reinforced concrete was uncovered at the S end of the trench.

Trench B/I All deposits in this trench had been removed during the landscaping of the site.

Trench B/II Although the upper levels in this trench had been disturbed by modern building foundations, medieval remains, again of the 15th century or earlier date were found intact below these structures, extending full length of the trench. Features included pits and hearths.

Trench B/III A depth of more than 1.40m of archaeological deposits and structures were explored, which represent the remains of buildings dating from the mid-17th century back to the 13th century or possibly earlier.

Trench C/I A complex series of deposits, including stone packed post holes and hearths were recorded within a depth of more than 0.50m of archaeological deposits.

Sponsor: Dept of Housing, City of Edinburgh District Council

M Collard 1993.

Excavation (June 1994 - November 1994)

Large scale excavation of the site was carried out from June to November 1994 prior to development. Four trenches were excavated; located over the areas of substantial archaeological deposits and structures previously identified. A survey was also carried out of the upstanding structures within the development area.

Trench A: The earliest features were cross-cutting cultivation marks in the natural sand. These were overlain by substantial middens; preliminary dating of the pottery suggests the middens date from the 12th to the 13th century. A 12th/13th-century oven was located on the S edge of Trench A and a hearth found on the E side of the trench may be contemporary.

The foundations of a mid to late medieval structure of mortared rubble construction were located on the W side of the trench. The structure was orientated E-W with a horseshoe-shaped, stone-lined tank on its NE external corner. To the E of this structure were the foundations of a second stone building, apparently of similar age, with a large fireplace in its N wall, its base formed from yellow glazed tiles. A sandstone- lined well, probably post-medieval, located near the centre, remained unexcavated below water level. Adjacent to the well was a stone-built tank with flagstone floor and infilled with early 19th-century debris.

Trench B: This area had been at both the N and S ends disturbed by modern landscaping. The S end of the trench was truncated to the level of 12th 13th-century middens overlying natural beach sand. In the centre of the trench were the stone foundations of a medieval structure consisting of a substantial curving wall with five sleeper walls protecting radially from its outer face, creating discrete areas with central areas of burning. Provisional dating suggests this structure dates to the 14th/15th centuries. The foundations of a substantial mid-17th-century stone building, fronting onto Water Street, overlay this structure on the E side.

Trench E/I: This area contained a complex sequence of medieval midden spreads, dating from the 12th century overlying natural beach sand. The middens were cut by various later medieval and post-medieval pits. The foundations of a large E-W orientated post-medieval building overlay the middens.

Trench E/II: This represented the main area of excavation and was totally excavated, to a depth of up to 2.3m ofarchaeological deposits. Within this area several residual prehistoric flint artefacts were recovered although no pre-medieval contexts were identified.

The initial phase of occupation was represented by five double-flued bowl furnaces associated with a complex array of post holes and stake holes representing timber structures. This industrial activity was separated by a fence-line from an adjacent plot which was in use for cultivation. demonstrated by the presence of plough and spade marks within the primary soil deposits. Post dating the furnaces were the clay-cored stone foundations of two N-S orientated buildings (provisionally dated to the mid-late 12th century).

The northern building appeared to have had an earlier purely timber, phase. A large rectangular clay-built cistern was situated to the N of the buildings with associated alignments of post holes which may also represent further timber buildings associated with this phase of activity. To the E, above the earlier cultivation, rich and extensive midden deposits were found, containing particularly dense accumulations of oyster shells. The next phase of the building at the N end of the trench incorporated a line of three bread ovens within its W wall.

Following the disuse of the ovens a complex sequence of building from the 13th century to the late medieval period was revealed with continual re-use of pre-existing walls, all walls being of clay-cored rubble construction. Towards the later medieval period this area displayed evidence of cultivation with the accumulation of soil deposits over earlier structures. The N-S aligned property boundaries established in the earliest phase were maintained throughout this period.

The character of the occupation apparently changed in the mid 17th century when substantial mortar-bonded stone buildings apparently for industrial purposes, were constructed across much of the site, with subsequent rebuilding and structural alterations.

Sponsors: Port of Leith Housing Association (on behalf of Scottish Homes) and City of Edinburgh District Council.

M A Collard and D Reed 1994.

Watching Brief (May 1995)

NT 2706 7639 (centre) A watching brief was undertaken during May 1995 to monitor the excavation of service and foundation trenches, for housing construction. Six areas were excavated (F-K) totalling c3000sqm, revealing a complex series of deposits which complemented those previously revealed during the 1993 and 1994 seasons (Collard 1993; Collard and Reed 1994).

More extensive evidence for the previously recorded early medieval cultivation, pre-dating the accumulation of midden deposits in the 12th/13th centuries, was revealed within areas G,J and K. With the exception of area I, all areas contained midden layers and associated pits, starting in the 12th/13th centuries and continuing into the post-medieval period. These midden deposits were found to extend beyond the limits of the site to the S and W (under Shore Place) and E (under Water Street). The maximum depth of deposit was reached to the S of Bowies Close (1.70m), with the average being between 0.50m and 1.0m.

The limited remains of medieval clay-bonded structures were also recovered. These structures respected the modern street frontages of both Shore Place and Bowies Close, and their alignment was maintained into the post-medieval period.

Sponsors: Port of Leith Housing Association (on behalf of Scottish Homes) and City of Edinburgh District Council.

J A Lawson 1995.

Excavation (July 1996)

NT 2706 7639 An early post-medieval, sandstone-lined well was discovered during the 1994 excavations at Burgess Street (Collard and Reed 1994). The well, 0.98m in diameter, was excavated in July 1996 to a depth of 2.3m. The deposits of the backfill contained 19th-century finds. The well does not appear on the 2nd edition OS map of 1895.

Sponsors: Port of Leith Housing Association (on behalf of Scottish Homes), City of Edinburgh Council.

D Reed 1996.

References

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