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Cousland Castle

Castle (Medieval)

Site Name Cousland Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Cousland Nunnery; Cousland House; Chapeldyke

Canmore ID 53403

Site Number NT36NE 9

NGR NT 37738 68389

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/53403

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Midlothian
  • Parish Cranston
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District Midlothian
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

NT36NE 9 37738 68389

(NT 3774 6837) Castle (NR) (rems of)

OS 6" map (1967).

See also NT36NE 13.

Location formerly entered as NT 3774 6837.

The remains at this site form an enclosure, 224' square within walls 2'10" thick; the masonry suggests 17th century work. At the NE corner is a very ruinous 17th century house, of which the part that projects within the enclosure appears to be earlier than the portion lying parallel to and incorporated in the E wall. This older portion is a structure 30' wide and of indeterminate length and layout. This site was originally published by the OS as "Supposed site of Nunnery", and it has been scheduled as "Cousland Nunnery". However, Easson makes no mention of the existence of a nunnery here, and the RCAHMS state that though the older part of the building noted above is orientated, in no other way is it suggestive of an ecclesiastical purpose. They consider that the remains are probably those of Cousland Castle, which is indicated on diagrams of the Battle of Pinkie in Patten's "Expedicion into Scotlande". (See also NT36NE 13).

RCAHMS 1929, visited 1921; D E Easson 1957

These remains are as described except that the S wall of the enclosure and part of the N wall have been demolished.

Visited by OS (BS) 22 October 1975.

NT 377 683 An area of ground resistance survey was started on 23 September over a levelled field to the W of Cousland Castle (NT36NE12). The castle, a possible tower house, stands to the S of Cousland village some 60m to the E of a small road that runs S to join the A68. A large stone wall runs for over 100m N beside this road before turning through a right-angle to butt on to the side of the castle; the wall effectively encloses the surveyed area. Seven 20 x 20m squares were surveyed and the printout showed high and low resistance lines adjacent to the castle suggesting an extension or outbuildings to its W. Slight high and low resistance lines run parallel with the W wall and, as there are socket holes in the wall, could indicate a lean-to structure.

The squares to the S show strong high and low resistance amorphous shapes, possibly indicating limestone bedrock. One sharply angled low resistance could be an infilled limestone extraction pit. Further survey is planned to take place in 2007.

Sponsor: D Connolly, British Archaeological Jobs Resource, Cousland Historical Society, Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society.

HMD Jones 2006.

Schedulked as 'Cousland Castle, tower and house 75m ESE of Chapeldyke... [comprising] the remains of a tower house, a later building that adjoined it to the south, and part of a garden wall.'

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 25 June 2011.

Castle

(remains of) [NAT]

OS (GIS) MasterMap, June 2011.

Architecture Notes

EXTERNAL REFERENCE

Reg. Mag. Sig (1542) No.2769

Inquis. Spec. Edin., No.1057.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

Activities

Geophysical Survey (23 September 2006)

NT 377 683 An area of ground resistance survey was started on 23 September over a levelled field to the W of Cousland Castle (NT36NE12). The castle, a possible tower house, stands to the S of Cousland village some 60m to the E of a small road that runs S to join the A68. A large stone wall runs for over 100m N beside this road before turning through a right-angle to butt on to the side of the castle; the wall effectively encloses the surveyed area. Seven 20 x 20m squares were surveyed and the printout showed high and low resistance lines adjacent to the castle suggesting an extension or outbuildings to its W. Slight high and low resistance lines run parallel with the W wall and, as there are socket holes in the wall, could indicate a lean-to structure.

The squares to the S show strong high and low resistance amorphous shapes, possibly indicating limestone bedrock. One sharply angled low resistance could be an infilled limestone extraction pit. Further survey is planned to take place in 2007.

Sponsor: D Connolly, British Archaeological Jobs Resource, Cousland Historical Society, Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society.

H M D Jones 2006

Excavation (11 November 2007 - 11 July 2008)

NT 3770 6830 – NT 3700 6770 – NT 3770 3810

Area 1: The Castle field – We have confirmation that the castle is likely to have been built by the Ruthven lords around the end of the 15th century. Later, they constructed a residence, which hosted the Confederate Lords, and perhaps even Mary Queen of Scots, in 1567. The walled garden was built much later in the early 18th century and in the process quarried away most of the castle, though the residence remained until at least 1760. There is definite proof of structures in the S field, though these may be connected with later quarry works. The residence, although demolished, does have surviving archaeology to the S, and could provide evidence of construction, use and layout.

Area 2: The Pottery field – Examination of the pottery and kiln furniture recovered in the fieldwalking, and

from the small evaluation trench confirm the presence of surviving archaeology. We are now sure that this is the pottery mentioned in the 1796 Edinburgh Advertiser as being for sale. This must also be the pottery that James Belfield arrived at in the mid 18th century from Staffordshire, before moving to Prestonpans where his son Charles set up the Belfield Pottery. This remarkable find is of great importance, as not only has geophysics shown the presence of kilns and possible waster pits, but the works themselves will be one of the earliest whiteware potteries in Scotland, marking the beginning of the industrial period. Careful examination of the

technologies used, as well as the pottery produced here, will be of immense value to the study of ceramics in Scotland.

Area 3: The Windmill Plantation – The windmill fits well alongside the Smiddy and the walled garden as a standing monument to the history of 18th-century Cousland and another of the Dalrymple improvements. However, the mound it sits on is unusual and was examined for the first time.

Nearby are known long cist burials and this could be the final clue to the location of an early Christian religious

establishment. Further geophysics, metal detecting and careful excavation could confirm this extremely important hypothesis.

The knowledge gained in this project has been of great importance, and the outcome has been most satisfactory. The option for extending the work to cover the period 1700 – 2000 and the pre-1100 occupation cannot be discounted. It is one that must be seriously considered, along with the continued examination and display of what has already been found.

Archive: RCAHMS

Funder: Cousland Local History Project

David Connolly (Connolly Heritage Consultancy), 2008

Geophysical Survey (2008)

NT 3780 6830 The area resistance surveys reported in DES 2006, 105 and 2007, 128 were continued to the S of the castle with a further 5200m2 surveyed on level ground above the E–W step in the field. Significant high resistance lines run E/W with angled resistances at the ends. Lesser features run from these lines N towards the castle. A further linear high resistance, which turns through a right-angle, goes beyond the SW corner of the survey. The alignments suggest ecclesiastical structures.

Funder: D Connolly, British Archaeological Jobs Resource, Cousland Historical Society and Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society

David Jones (Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society), 2008

Resistivity

NT 3780 6830 The area resistance survey reported in DES 2006 was continued with a survey on the eastern side of the castle/tower house. Historical evidence indicates buildings in the area (20 x 80m) but the survey showed only irregular high resistance areas that could indicate a varying depth of limestone bedrock. The castle foundations are visible and sit on this bedrock. The eastern door into the castle is some 0.5m above

the present field level, possibly indicating that the area has been excavated for lime stone and the topsoil replaced.

Funder: D Connolly, British Archaeological Jobs Resource, Cousland Historical Society, Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society.

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