Early Historic settlement beneath the Grassmarket in Edinburgh

James McMeekin (Author)

Simon Stronach (Contributor)

Julie Franklin (Contributor)

Clare Thomas (Contributor)

Sarah-Jane Haston (Contributor)

Emma Tetlow (Contributor)

Lynda Howard (Contributor)

Fiona Beglane (Contributor)

Postmedieval Building Foundations
Medieval, Middle Bronze Age Pits Pre12th Century


Archaeologically monitored excavations in the Grassmarket, Edinburgh uncovered diverse remains dating from prehistory to the First World War. The stratigraphic sequence included pits created in the middle of the Bronze Age, Early Historic features and deposits, a series of medieval surfaces, a section of the Flodden Wall and post-medieval building foundations. The Early Historic features provide rare evidence for Edinburgh’s development prior to the 12th century and form the focus of this article.   Several features, created during the Anglian occupation of the Lothians, suggest the presence of a settlement between the late 6th and early 10th centuries AD, overlooked and possibly servicing a high status site on Castle Rock. The evidence is compared to archaeological results from other settlements formerly within the Anglian kingdom of Bernicia (Northumbria).   Deposits over a structure were radiocarbon dated to the 11th–12th century, when the region was under Scottish control. Associated environmental remains and leather offcuts indicated the holding, butchering and processing of livestock. This evidence pre-dates the documented use of the area as a medieval market and is interpreted as relating to a pre-burghal phase of use. The significance of the results in terms of our understanding of Edinburgh’s development, and to assessments of archaeological potential in Scottish medieval towns in general, is also discussed.


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How to Cite
McMeekin, J., Stronach, S., Franklin, J., Thomas, C., Haston, S.-J., Tetlow, E., … Beglane, F. (2011). Early Historic settlement beneath the Grassmarket in Edinburgh. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 140, 105–128. https://doi.org/10.9750/PSAS.140.105.128

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