RESIDENTS of a well-heeled Scottish suburb have agreed to have their gardens dug up – to search for evidence of ancient Rome.
Around 20 homeowners in the Buckstone and Fairmilehead areas of Edinburgh will today (fri) watch nervously as archaeologists cut into their well-tended lawns.
It is hoped the dig will find relics of a Roman camp believed to have been set up in the area almost 2,000 years ago.
Watched over by “Roman centurions” in full battledress, the team from Archaeology Scotland will pick up shovels and burrow into the peaceful lawns of this tranquil, south Edinburgh suburb.
Lesley McEwen, who is organising Scottish Archaeology Month, said scores of residents had agreed to the dig.
She said: “We’ve had quite a number of interested local people that want to open up their gardens.”
“There’s already been photo surveys taken.”
Archaeologists had already been to the site with metal detector kits to looks for clues prior to the dig.
If the team can find a Roman coin they can tie the camp down to a specific period based on which emperor is on the coin.
Aerial photographs have also been taken, using a camera attached to a kite, a common archaeological technique.
Ms McEwen continued: “There’s maybe about 15 to 20 gardens we’re looking to dig in.”
The archaeologists will be visiting around 30 properties, though some will just have metal detection work take place.
Educational events will be held at the local parish church on Saturday the community will be able to take part in.
On Sunday, the archaeologists will display what the digs have found
John Richardson, of the Borders-based Antonine Guard re-enactment society, said around 6 “centurions” would be attending the dig.
The legionaries will march through the town – just as they are thought to have done almost two millennia ago – and stand on guard duty as the digs took place.
Mr Richardson said: “It might be a nice idea if one or two chaps were in the gardens as things were going on to lend a bit of flavour.”
The identities of the homes where the digging is happening have not yet been revealed.
But local councilor Elaine Aitken said any finds would be significant for the area.
She said: “I think it’s really interesting. If they do find something that will be significant and will add to the history of the area.”