Excavations at Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh

the development of closes and tenements north of the Royal Mile during the 16th–18th centuries

Paul Masser (Author)

Mike Kimber (Author)

Julie Franklin (Author)

Morag Cross (Author)

Auli Tourunen (Author)

boundary, Walls, tannery, cellars, Burgage, Plots, Pits, Buckle, Pottery, Pipes, Exotic Plant Remains, Charcoal, Carbonised Plant Remains, Barley, Dutch Redware, Redware, Sheep, Cattle, Bird Bones, Domestic Chicken, Mouse, Pig Dog Cat Rabbit, Fish Bones, Domestic Bird, Bones, urbanisation
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
medieval, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, Roman


Excavations on the site of a former tannery to the rear of Edinburgh's High Street (NGR: NT 260 737) produced evidence for the infilling of medieval burgage plots from the 16th century onwards. Walls defining a terrace and a burgage plot boundary suggest a considerable investment in at least some of the backlands during the medieval period, but these structures later went out of use, corresponding to a widely documented decline in Scottish towns during the 14th century. During the late 16th century, substantial buildings with cellars on either side of a paved close represent the first appearance of the multi-storey tenement buildings that characterise much of the Old Town. These buildings provide the basis for a discussion of the character of urbanisation in late 16th- and early 17th-century Edinburgh. The cellars were demolished and backfilled with refuse at different dates between the 1640s and 1740s. Finds from these refuse deposits are highly significant as a sample of changing consumption patterns during this period. During the 18th century the area appears to have declined in status and taken on a more industrial character; later, a tannery was established on part of the site by the 1830s, which expanded to cover much of the site by the 1880s.


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How to Cite
Masser, Paul, Mike Kimber, Julie Franklin, Morag Cross, and Auli Tourunen. 2014. “Excavations at Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh”. Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports 58 (January), 1-56. https://doi.org/10.9750/issn.2056-7421.2014.58.1-56.