Scottish architecture

Day in the life of a Public Services Officer

Name: Joe Waterfield

What do you do? I am a Public Services Officer, this means that I help people to find and use items in our collections. I issue licences for the use of material and I work out where the items can be found physically and digitally.

RCAHMS Search Room

The open access photo boxes in the search room. Loads of architectural and archaeological photographs from around Scotland. Anyone can come and have a look at these, maybe you can see your house!

How did you get here? I studied history at university and since graduating I have been working in the heritage sector.

What are you working on today? Today I have sent a reporter some photographs from the Buildings at Risk Register to use in a newspaper article, I have talked to a librarian about using SCRAN images in a display, and I have supplied RCAHMS GIS data that will be used as part of a collaborative research project.

Favourite part of your job? My favourite part of the job is the sheer breadth of people and objects it puts me in touch with. One day I could be collecting photos of buildings designed by James Salmon for a public exhibition, another day I could be helping a customer access a photograph of a relative.

What did university not teach you? I used archives as a researcher when studying at university, but I had not experienced working in archives ‘behind the scenes’. Requesting a particular document is a completely different kettle of fish to actually trying to find that document, especially in a collection as diverse as the items held by RCAHMS.

Click here to see a vine of my day!

 

Looking at castles for a living

Name: William Wyeth

What do you do?
I’m a PhD student based jointly at RCAHMS and Stirling University, researching Scotland’s early stone castles.

Castle Tioram Highland

Castle Tioram Highland

Part of my work as a PhD student includes visits to sites like Castle Tioram, where I help with the surveying of sites and learn how to read the masonry of castles to interpret different phases of construct.

How did you get here?
I am from London and have always been interested in pre-modern warfare. At university I studied Roman history, after which I tried my hand in various jobs before deciding on heritage and archaeology. I took a fixed-term position as an Education & Outreach trainee at RCAHMS; during this time I developed an interest in Scottish history, especially the Wars of Independence period, which led to me applying for this PhD position.

What are you working on today?
I am working on developing the questions I want to answer by looking at the evidence available to me. All research requires a lot of reading and thinking, so quite a lot of time is spent reading something which will likely never appear in the final work, but which triggers ideas and theories which may play a role further down the line.

Here I am in my office at RCAHMS, where I spend the large majority of my time. I spend my time reading books, working through a large database of sites and writing. A PhD is a long and uncertain journey, so it’s nice to have two office mates, Iain and Miriam, to keep me company!

Here I am in my office at RCAHMS, where I spend the large majority of my time. I spend my time reading books, working through a large database of sites and writing. A PhD is a long and uncertain journey, so it's nice to have two office mates, Iain and Miriam, to keep me company!

My Desk

Favourite part of your job?
Site visits! It is quite difficult to grasp a site in its entirety without either having a solid plan and bank of photographs, or a comprehensive site visit. These also give you a much better grasp of the area in which the castle sits, an element as important as the castle itself.

Recently I went on a sightseeing tour of castle sites in the Highlands. Given that many castles are located in important communication routes or well-defended locations, it’s unsurprising that some castles have been replaced by later buildings, as at Ruthven.

Lag tower was a spontaneous discovery while on fieldwork. A delay one morning meant I was able to walk in the countryside nearby; I saw an abandoned farmstead, an iron age fort and Lag Tower (marked as Tower House on the Ordinance Survey map of the area). It’s a well-preserved 16th-c tower atop a small steep mound.

Top tips for aspiring archaeologists?
I am not an archaeologist by training, but my experience of site visits with surveyors at RCAHMS has taught me two things; firstly, consider the setting of the site: where is it located in relation to everything around it? How might things have been different? The second tip is to be aware of the impact of earlier people in trying to restore or conserve structures or sites; sometimes their understanding of the site might not always be accurate.

On archaeological archives, elbows and ladders…

Who: Lydia Fisher

What: I’m a Collections Access Officer in the  Collections Department at RCAHMS

How did you get here?
A BA in Archaeology from Simon Fraser University in Canada, museum volunteering, one plane ticket, two years at the British Geological Survey, and then an opportunity to work in heritage at RCAHMS, I’ve been here since 2006.

Lydia

Lydia

What are you working on today?
As a member of the Collections Department at RCAHMS, I help look after the archive of photographs, drawings, maps and manuscripts while also assisting with research enquiries in our public search room. Today I’m cataloguing, rehousing and creating a collections hierarchy for the personal notebooks, papers, correspondence and aerial photographs of the pioneering aerial archaeologist, geologist and Romanist J. Kenneth St Joseph of Cambridge University. He was instrumental in establishing Cambridge University’s Collection of Aerial Photographs (CUCAP) and in 1973 became Professor of Air Photographic Studies. His work has transformed our knowledge of the early history of Scotland through the identification of sites visible only from the air.  He wrote and lectured widely on the subject of aerial photography and archaeology, his particular interest being in Roman Britain.  The collections work that I am undertaking will assist in making the archive more accessible to researchers through our online catalogue Canmore.

Further information, photographs and drawings on these sites can be found on our online database Canmore: Ulston Moor and Inchtuthil

Published books available in our search room by JK St Joseph include Roman Britain from the Air (with S S Frere) (1983) and The Uses of Air Photography (1977). Roman Camps in Scotland (2011) by our very own Dr Rebecca Jones also refers to the JK St Joseph archive and the notebooks held at RCAHMS.

What did university not teach you?
Anything about architecture – it is a subject I have had to learn about from research enquiries, by cataloguing architectural drawings and from working with knowledgeable colleagues.

Surprising part of your job?
Working with collections material can be quite physical, so clothing needs to be practical (you are unlikely to find us in dainty dresses or heels) and it helps if you’re good with heights. I’ve become very adept at pushing buttons on doors and elevators with my elbow and paper cuts can be a common occupational hazard.


Mike Middleton (RCAHMS) – Shetland

The archaeology of Sumburgh, Shetland.

The author in Levenwick c.1977. Copyright Mike Middleton

The author in Levenwick c.1977. Copyright Mike Middleton

I’m Mike Middleton and I manage two nationwide archaeological mapping projects. The Historic Land-Use Assessment , is mapping signs of past land-use preserved within the modern landscape and the Canmore Mapping is focussing on the known extent of archaeological sites recorded in the RCAHMS Canmore online record of monuments.

I’ve chosen the archaeology of Sumburgh at the south end of mainland Shetland where I spent many happy hours, as a child, scrambling over the archaeological sites without really knowing what they were. Both my parents worked at the airport and being busy people, they were often at work when I finished school. So I would spend time out playing with my friends, on the beaches and land around the airport. There were loads of great places to play. One of our favourites was the abandoned WWII defences. Built quickly out of poured concrete onto sand, the buildings had no foundations and have subsided and partially collapsed over the years providing the perfect place for young boys to play war games.

If we were feeling more adventurous we would head down to watch the seals and sea birds at the bottom end of the Ness of Burgi. En route we would pass the Ness of Burgi fort. Known as a blockhouse or gatehouse fort and built during the Iron Age, around 100BC, the fort has a rectangular gatehouse cutting off a narrow promontory. With its low, broch-like entrance and cells to each side it was an excellent playhouse.

The Ness of Burgi blockhouse from the north-west. Copyright RCAHMS (SC 342869].

The Ness of Burgi blockhouse from the north-west. Copyright RCAHMS (SC 342869].

A view from inside the reconstructed wheelhouse at Scatness. Public contribution to Canmore, Copyright Mike Middleton

A view from inside the reconstructed wheelhouse at Scatness. Public contribution to Canmore, Copyright Mike Middleton

Most amazing to me now, as I had no idea it was there at the time, is the multi phase site of Scatness. The site was excavated in the late 1990s and revealed evidence for Iron Age, Norse and Post-Medieval settlement. It is dominated by the remains of a broch and surrounding wheelhouses. Both of these monument types are Iron Age drystone structures specific to Scotland. Brochs are hollow-walled and tower-like in form while wheelhouses incorporate a series of stone piers within the outer wall much like the spokes on the wheel of a bike. I still find it hard to believe that so much was under the ground I played on and invisible to me at the time. Equally amazing is the proximity of the Scatness site to the very similar and just as complex multi phase site of Jarlshof.

An image of a Viking ship incised into a piece of slate. The author’s favourite find from Jarlshof. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1221187)

An image of a Viking ship incised into a piece of slate. The author’s favourite find from Jarlshof. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1221187)

Although as children we didn’t know Scatness was there, we weren’t short of brochs to play on because just opposite the end of one of the runways is Brough Head broch or Eastshore broch as I knew it as a kid. The site is partially eroded by the sea, cutting it in half, something of particular fascination to us children. Like Scatness and Jarlshof the broch is surrounded by unexcavated earth covered structures and abandoned 19th-century farm buildings. It is quite possible that if excavated this site could be as complex as Scatness and Jarlshof.

Brough Head broch from the sea showing the two walls of the broch exposed. Public contribution to Canmore, Copyright Mike Middleton

Brough Head broch from the sea showing the two walls of the broch exposed. Public contribution to Canmore, Copyright Mike Middleton

Sumburgh has an incredibly rich archaeological resource. I look back with fondness and frustration at my youth playing on these monuments. I feel lucky that I have had the chance to grow up in such a rich archaeological environment while disappointed I didn’t understand what they were at the time. However, the sites of Sumburgh also provide a snapshot of the big issues facing our heritage today. The hastily built WWII defences were constructed as temporary structures. Made from concrete and often in poor repair many of us don’t realise their historical significance. These factors mean that our wartime sites are one of the most rapidly diminishing archaeological resources in Scotland. The Brough Head broch, Jarlshof and the Ness of Burgi Fort are all suffering the effects of coastal erosion, a threat facing thousands of sites worldwide and those maintaining the sites at Scatness and Jarlshof, have to balance the needs of conservation with the thousands of tourists who wish to visit these wonderful sites. What the archaeology of Sumburgh illustrates is it that not every site can be saved. It is just a matter of time before sites like Brough Head are lost to the sea and there just isn’t the resource to save all the threatened sites in Scotland. However, we can record these monuments and make this information available so we, or others in the future, can try and understand them better. We can’t all excavate sites but we can all take a photograph and draw a plan. We don’t need to excavate every site to understand it. By taking photographs or drawing plans we can all record vital information. You can be part of this process by visiting sites, helping to record them and then uploading your research using the MyCanmore public contribution tool. We need your help to record our heritage. We can only do it together!

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.

Leanne McCafferty (RCAHMS) – Renfrewshire

Leanne McCafferty, RCAHMS

Renfrewshire ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Renfrewshire ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

After graduated with an archaeology degree in 2002, I began working at RCAHMS on a partnership project with our Welsh counterparts, RCAHMW. This involved looking at how the two organisations recorded information about the built heritage including archaeology, architecture and marine sites. I  am currently a project manager within the Data and Recording section with a particular interest in the history of recording at RCAHMS and how this is reflected in the information we make available through our Canmore database. In an attempt to illustrate this, I’ve chosen the site of St Fillan’s Well.

The holy well of St Fillan lies to the east of Kilallan, a farm near Kilmacolm in Refrewshire. It is one of 276 holy wells recorded in the Canmore database.

These wells were associated with early medieval saints (although their use could have been much more ancient than this) and were reputed to have healing waters. The holy wells recorded in the Canmore database claim to cure a variety of maladies from deafness to “nervous diseases”. In the case of St Fillan, reputedly an Irish monk, the waters of his well have folk traditions associating it with the curing of rickets in children. Nearby the well are two associated monuments, St Fillan’s Seat and St Fillan’s Church, which is dedicated to the saint.

An engraving of St Anthony’s Well from William Ballingall’s Edinburgh Past and Present. Copyright RCAHMS (SC431735)

An engraving of St Anthony’s Well from William Ballingall’s Edinburgh Past and Present. Copyright RCAHMS (SC431735)

The information RCAHMS holds on the well is taken from the Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division’s record card. The cards were transferred to RCAHMS in 1983 and provided the foundation for what would become the database we use to record monuments today. This information is then available to the public through Canmore. The record cards provided a brief description of the site along with references to relevant publications and a map. They were compiled by the Archaeology Division office-based recorders and then passed to the field staff, who in turn would investigate the monument. The office recorders would assemble the monument descriptions from existing publications such as the RCAHMS County Inventories and Statistical Accounts.

Ordnance Survey record card for St Fillan’s Well. Copyright RCAHMS

Ordnance Survey record card for St Fillan’s Well. Copyright RCAHMS

For St Fillan’s Well, multiple sources have been consulted to construct a concise history and description of the site. The well was first recorded in the Old Statistical Accounts in 1791. The statistical accounts were first collected in the 18th century by Church of Scotland ministers and described the geography, agriculture and culture of their respective parishes. The Reverend John Monteath was responsible for Houston parish in which St Fillan’s Well is located and describes how the well was used for curing “rickety babies” until it was filled in by a local minister at the end of the 18th century. It also records the tradition of leaving cloth as a votive offering which means St Fillan’s was also a rag or ‘clootie’ well. One of the more famous clootie wells is located at Hill O’Hirdie near Munlochy in the Highlands.

The well was mapped by the Ordnance Survey in 1856 and recorded in the Object Name Book. These books were used by the OS staff to record the place names that were used on maps. Ordered by parish, a copy of the Name Books is available for public consultation on microfiche in the RCAHMS Search Room.

 First Edition OS map (Renfrewshire 1863, sheet VII) depicting St Fillan’s Well. ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

First Edition OS map (Renfrewshire 1863, sheet VII) depicting St Fillan’s Well. ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

In 1895 a paper exploring the association of the cult of St Fillan with Kilallan was published by J M Mackinlay in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. More recent publications on the well include Scottish Healing Wells (F and R Morris 1982) and W H Lyle’s The History of Bridge of Weir (1975).

Renfrewshire was not included in the county inventory survey by RCAHMS, but when it was visited by the Ordnance Survey in 1955, it was reported the field investigator that the well was being used as a cattle trough.

To see the Canmore record for St Fillan’s Well, see http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/42246/details/kilallan+st+fillan+s+well/

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.

 

Brian Wilkinson (RCAHMS) – North Ayrshire

North Ayrshire ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

North Ayrshire ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

I am Brian Wilkinson and I work at RCAHMS as the Activity Officer for the Britain from Above project. This is a Heritage Lottery Funded partnership project run jointly with English Heritage and RCAHMW, and I am responsible for engaging audiences with the Aerofilms collection, some of the earliest commercial aerial photographs of the British Isles. The image I have chosen is from North Ayrshire and Arran, and is an Aerofilms photograph taken in 1947. It shows Holy Island laying across the mouth of Lamlash Bay with the Isle of Arran in the background. My wife’s family has strong connections to Arran and it’s a spectacular island that I’ve visited often.

Holy Island, general view, showing Inner Lighthouse and Mullach Mor. Oblique aerial photograph taken facing north. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1268773)

Holy Island, general view, showing Inner Lighthouse and Mullach Mor. Oblique aerial photograph taken facing north. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1268773)

 

 

Holy Island affords Lamlash Bay protection from the worst of the elements. The sheltered bay is a natural harbour  and has been used as an anchorage throughout history; during the two World Wars it accommodated the Royal Navy Home Fleet and mthe Atlantic Fleet. It was also the testing area for the ‘Lily’ floating airfield towards the end of  WW2.  Its strategic qualities were recognised even further back in time. It played a role in the last Norse invasion of Scotland in 1263, which culminated in the Battle of Largs on the North Ayrshire coast. The  Norwegian king was the overlord of the Hebrides and Islands in the Clyde, these having been settled by the Norse from the 9th century onwards.

Battle of Largs Monument. View from W. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1111416)

Battle of Largs Monument. View from W. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1111416)

 

During the 13th century the Scottish kings started to flex their muscles and sought to extend their domain over the Isles. This led to the Norwegian King Hakon leading an invasion to forcibly protect his claim.  The Saga of King Hakon Hakonsson records the Norse fleet sheltering in Lamlash Bay while negotiations between the two sides took place. These broke down and the Norsemen went marauding along the Clyde, even sailing up Loch Long and portaging their ships across the isthmus at Arrochar to go raiding in Loch Lomond. Events came to a head when several of the Norse’ ships were blown ashore at Largs during a storm, leading to a skirmish between the two sides. This minor conflict is remembered as the  Battle of Largs, and although the Norse may have won the day they lost the war, as Hakon died on his return voyage to Norway and control of the Hebrides was ceded to the Scots just three years after the battle. A monument to this Scottish victory in the form of a tower (known locally as “The Pencil”) was erected in Largs in 1912.

St Molaise's Cave, Holy Island, Arran. View of cave and interior. Copyright RCAHMS (SC408038)

St Molaise’s Cave, Holy Island, Arran. View of cave and interior. Copyright RCAHMS (SC408038)

There is some surviving evidence of Norse visitors, and perhaps even these events, still recorded within the landscape around Lamlash Bay. St Molaise’s Cave on Holy Island is traditionally the hermitage of a sixth century saint and may have been a place of pilgrimage. The roof and sides of the cave are covered in many inscribed crosses and runic inscriptions dating from the 11th to 12th century. One of these reads “Vigleikr the marshal carved”, and the saga records a certain Vigleik Priestson as one of the captains of the Norse fleet.

Scanned image of drawing showing detail of runic inscription VIII in St Molaise's Cave, Holy Island, Arran Page 64, figure A of 'Gazetteer of Early Medieval Sculpture in the West Higlands and Islands'. Copyright RCAHMS (SC580820)

Scanned image of drawing showing detail of runic inscription VIII in St Molaise’s Cave, Holy Island, Arran Page 64, figure A of ‘Gazetteer of Early Medieval Sculpture in the West Highlands and Islands’. Copyright RCAHMS (SC580820)

 These were not the first of the Norse to have visited these parts either. At Kingscross Point, jutting out at the left of the photograph, are the remains of a viking burial, which contained a coin dating from the ninth century as well as burnt human bone and boat rivets, perhaps indicating a Viking Period cremation. So it’s a very interesting region where both the start of the Viking Period in Scotland and the end of Norse overlordship of the Isles can be evidenced, both through archaeology and the historic record.  This Norse heritage is still celebrated by communities on the Clyde, from the Arran Viking Longship Society, the Largs Viking Festival, and the Hidden Heritage Project.

 

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.

 

Heather Stoddart (RCAHMS) – Midlothian

Heather Stoddart, RCAHMS

Heather Stoddart, RCAHMS

I am Heather Stoddart, draughtsperson, illustrator and surveyor in the Architecture and Industry Section  at RCAHMS.

Midlothian ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Midlothian ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

My chosen building is the impressive Lady Victoria Colliery at Newtongrange, which we recorded for Industrial Survey.

This was one of the largest surviving Victorian collieries in Midlothian and Europe that was saved from demolition after its closure in 1981 and is now the site of the Scottish Mining Museum. The tall red-brick buildings and the arcading create an impressive structure that housed one of Scotland’s most important industrial processes.

We were asked to produce survey drawings of the ground plan of the site, pithead tub-circuit plan and the North, South, West and East elevations which was an extensive amount of survey work but shows the layout of the buildings to scale and generated a good comprehensive record of the complex.

Survey drawing of the ground plan of Lady Victoria Colliery, drawn by the author. Copyright RCAHMS

Survey drawing of the ground plan of Lady Victoria Colliery, drawn by the author. Copyright RCAHMS

Drawing any Industrial site can be challenging as you are recording a process and machinery but the scale of this site made it even more so. Often a process links one level to another like hoppers, conveyor belts, winding gear and elevators which is important to record and was the case at this site too.

East elevation of Lady Victoria Colliery. Drawn by the author. Copyright RCAHMS

East elevation of Lady Victoria Colliery. Drawn by the author. Copyright RCAHMS

The initial survey was started using a EDM/Total Station (a distance laser theodolite) which generated an accurate skeleton layout of the buildings from which we were able to generate the scaled plans and subsequently the elevations. We also used the EDM to assist with the recording of the Headgear which is the steel structure located above the mine shaft and can be seen from quite a distance due to its elevated position.

I also created finished digital images of the North and West elevations for ‘Scottish Collieries’, a RCAHMS  publication which was published in 2006.

The North elevation image was nominated as Scotland’s favourite archive image by public vote in 2008 for RCAHMS Treasured Places.

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.

 

George Geddes (RCAHMS) – Highland

George Geddes, RCAHMS

George Geddes, RCAHMS

Highland ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Highland ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

George Geddes, an Archaeology Survey and Recording Project Manager at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) explains the archaeology of Croick in the Highlands.

The ruinous and mutilated remains of an Iron Age Broch stand in the glebe lands on the riverside at Croick. Few visitors cross the wall from the churchyard to visit them – the remains are difficult to ‘read’, having been robbed and rebuilt over two millennia. The church itself, built to one of Thomas Telford’s designs, stands testament to a period of violent change in the surrounding landscape, when many of the tenantry were forcibly removed. During 1845 a number of evicted families took shelter in the churchyard and etched their names in the beautiful windows providing a lasting memorial to an event that must have been truly traumatic for the people involved. Nowadays, the church is a serene and peaceful place to visit and a visitor noted that they were ‘moved to tears’ by the display. What place then, to help one think about social progress, inequality and change, not only in the 19th century (so recently in one sense), but also in the Iron Age when movements of people and power may have been every bit as dramatic.

Croick

Aerial view looking along Strath Cuileamach with the church, manse and remains of the broch in the foreground, taken from the SE. Copyright RCAHMS (DP024749)

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.

You can also contact the local authority Historic Environment Record (HER) for more information. In this case contact details are:

Ian Scrivener-Lindley

HER Officer / Historic Environment Team / Highland Council

Planning & Development, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness, IV3 5NX

T: 01463 702503

HER: http://her.highland.gov.uk/

 

 

Aisha Al-Sadie (RCAHMS) – Fife

Fife ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Fife ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Falkland Palace

Over the last three months I have been researching the history of Falkland Palace, situated in Fife while on placement there as a Skills for the Future education trainee. It is surrounded by a wealth of history, not only from the surrounding village of Falkland but also in the very grounds of the palace. Under the Palace garden, remains of earlier structures have been found and others have completely vanished.

View of Falkland Palace. Copyright Aisha Al-Sadie

View of Falkland Palace. Copyright Aisha Al-Sadie

 

 

The earliest known structure on the site was a 12th century hunting lodge owned by the Clan McDuff, the Earls of Fife. It is not known whether the lodge was either destroyed or whether it was incorporated into the later Falkland Castle which was levelled in 1371.The 3rd Marquess of Bute who was the Keeper of the Palace in the 1800s carried out several archaeological digs to look for evidence of the medieval site of Falkland Castle but only found a pile of medieval rubble. However, foundations of a 14th century Well Tower and the Palace’s destroyed North Range were discovered at this time which are thought to be either part of a Great Hall or a Chapel. The Marquess placed stones over these foundations to enhance the structures of both these sites and reformed the ‘upper garden’ to express the shape of the ruined buildings. Medieval remains of the castle were also found buried in the 17th century bowling green which the Marquess removed when digging, the rest of the stone was probably reused to build Falkland Palace in the 1500s.

Copyright Aisha Al-Sadie

Copyright Aisha Al-Sadie

In the 17th century Sir David Murray and his brother built a mansion house in the northern part of the Palace garden. This has been referred to as the Low Palace, the Castlestead, the Rangers House and the Netherplace of Falkland. During this period the Palace lay empty and fell into ruin so by 1757 no effort had been made to repair it.

Drawing, by the author, of Falkland Palace. Copyright Aisha Al-Sadie

Drawing, by the author, of Falkland Palace. Copyright Aisha Al-Sadie

“in my last that I was at Falkland which I found in very ill cause both as to the glasses and window cases and floorings, and besides it will be very inconvenient and chargeable living there since I have no interest in it, nor near it so that I think any charges I will be at will be better bestowed at Huntingtower…”

Lord Murray writing to his father-in-law the Duke of Hamilton on Falkland Palace, 1684

Ironically, the structures built during this period no longer exist and little is known about them. However the 3rd Marquess of Bute ensured that Falkland Palace itself was preserved for future generations. Unfortunately he died in 1900 before he could complete all his plans for the palace. One of these was to put a roof over the ruined East Range which is still a shell, it is however constantly monitored and conserved by the Deputy Keeper, National Trust for Scotland and partly funded by Historic Scotland through the Annual Maintenance Grant Scheme.

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.

For further information you can also contact the local authority archaeologist. In this case contact details are:

Douglas A Speirs Archaeologist
Enterprise, Planning & Protective Services
Regeneration, Environment & Place Team Fife Council Kingdom House Kingdom Avenue
Glenrothes KY7 5LY
Dial VOIP: (08451 55 55 55) ext :473748
Mobile: 0785021224
Fax: 01592 583199

 

Robin Turner (RCAHMS) – Falkirk

Robin Turner, meeting Prince Charles at Dymocks

Robin Turner (green jacket), meeting Prince Charles at Dymocks

Falkirk ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Falkirk ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

I’m Robin Turner, and I look after the architectural, archaeological and landscape survey parts of RCAHMS, and also the recording part – getting records into the Canmore database and out to the public. I’ve been interested in archaeology since I was at primary school, and went on my first dig in 1969. I was hooked, and spent all my school holidays going on digs in Britain and abroad, before going studying archaeology at university. As well as working in field archaeology (digging) I also spent almost 20 years in archaeological conservation and management with the National Trust for Scotland (NTS).

One of the best things I’ve ever been involved in was at the small Scottish town of Bo’ness, on the south side of the River Forth. It used to be a thriving industrial town but became increasingly down at heel in the later 20th century. As part of the NTS Little Houses  Improvement Scheme, we transformed Dymock’s Buildings –a derelict group of ugly-looking buildings –into something that the town could once again be proud of, and I was responsible for ensuring that a detailed archaeological record was made of the standing buildings and also of what was under them.

Dymocks N Street facade before

Dymocks N Street facade before Copyright Robin Turner

Dymocks N Street facade after

Dymocks N Street facade after Copyright Robin Turner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well as unravelling the very complex story of the buildings, from their origins on reclaimed land in the 1650s to their 20th-century uses, we excavated beneath them and found the remains of an amazing salt pan: in the 1600s the south side of the Forth was a centre for heating seawater and making salt. The buildings are now in community use, but there is occasional public access where local people and visitors can find out about the story of the buildings. But the best bit is what our work did for the community. The buildings were transformed from being an eyesore to being something that people could admire and be proud of. The community went on to renovate the Hippodrome – one of the earliest picture houses in Britain. In part because of these initiatives, the community’s civic pride has been greatly enhanced.

Archaeology is not about things: it’s about people: people in the past, but people in the present too, and in the future. Through their work, archaeologists can change people’s lives.

Dymock's Building: NTS Booklet cover. Copyright The National Trust for Scotland

Dymock’s Building: NTS Booklet cover. Copyright The National Trust for Scotland

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.