Trenches unearthed beaneth Edinburgh Castle


By Andrea McCallum

MEDIEVAL trenches dating back to the 16th century have been found underneath Edinburgh Castle.

The foundations – which formed part of the castle’s outer defences – were discovered by archaeologists.

Workers unearthed the walls and foundations during work to install new seating for Edinburgh Military Tattoo audiences.

Two separate structures were found buried about two metres beneath the castle’s esplanade.

The remains of a two-foot-wide wall was uncovered in the first trench – which is thought to be part of the north boundary between the city and the castle.

And a second trench revealed the foundations of a Spur – a 16th century defensive stronghold that protected the entrance to the castle.

Both appear in a 17th century drawing by Gordon of Rothiemay but until now their precise location was unknown.

Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Culture and External Affairs, said: “Edinburgh Castle has a long and important role at the centre of the country’s history.

“Finds of this kind are extremely valuable in terms of improving our understanding of the development of the castle, and its defensive needs during key periods in time, as well as showcasing effective modern day partnership working between the heritage and construction sectors.”

CFA Archaeology is working for Edinburgh Military Tattoo Ltd at the castle as part of Scheduled Monument Consent granted by Scottish Ministers for the new Tattoo stands.

Peter Yeoman is the head of CRT for Historic Scotland who looks after both Edinburgh Castle and the castle esplanade on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

He said: “As the remains have effectively lain covered for over 250 years, this is a unique opportunity to learn more about the esplanade during this period in the castle’s history.

“Until recently we have only had early drawings to go by, but we are now able to examine the archaeology and record and preserve as much of it as is possible for future generations.

“The remains are too deep down to be displayed, but to have this knowledge is a great step forward. In carry out these works Edinburgh Military Tattoo Ltd are to be commended for applying best conservation practice in ensuring that any discoveries are properly preserved and recorded. ”

The esplanade was formed in 1753 to create a parade ground for the military.

Archaeologists will continue to work with the Tattoo Company and their contractor Sir Robert MacAlpine to record the remains before they are re-buried.