Issue: Excavations on the Site of Balmerino House, Constitution Street, Leith

Publication Type
Abstract The remains of the front of Balmerino House, built in 1631, were uncovered during an archaeological excavation at St Mary's Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church, Constitution Street, Leith. The work also revealed several phases of medieval to post-medieval activity, and a small burial ground which predated the house. The earliest feature uncovered by the excavation was a well containing 13th- to 14th-century pottery. Large quantities of late to post-medieval pottery were recovered, as well as iron objects, glass and bone. The human remains comprised six adult males, although some were incomplete due to later disturbance. Of importance to the history of clay tobacco pipe manufacture in Scotland is a small assemblage of clay-pipe wasters and kiln waste dated c1630-40. The work was sponsored by Gregor Properties Ltd.
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Author Ross White
Chris O'Connell
Issue Editor Helen Bleck
Publisher Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Year of Publication 2010
Volume 41
ISBN 0 903903 58 5
Source DigitalBorn
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Abstract
1
The remains of the front of Balmerino House, built in 1631, were uncovered during an archaeological excavation at St Mary's Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church, Constitution Street, Leith. The work also revealed several phases of medieval to post-medieval activity, and a small burial ground which predated the house. The earliest feature uncovered by the excavation was a well containing 13th- to 14th-century pottery. Large quantities of late to post-medieval pottery were recovered, as well as iron objects, glass and bone. The human remains comprised six adult males, although some were incomplete due to later disturbance. Of importance to the history of clay tobacco pipe manufacture in Scotland is a small assemblage of clay-pipe wasters and kiln waste dated c1630-40.
2 - 3
Information on site location and the nature of the archaeological work is presented.
4
A brief account of Leith in the medieval and post-medieval period is presented.
5 - 13
Six phases of activity were identified. The remains are described by phase as follows: phase 1 - medieval pits and a well; phase 2 - late medieval or early post-medieval midden deposit; phase 3 - early post-medieval quarry pits; phase 4 - skeletal remains and overlying midden layer; phase 5 - Balmerino House construction; phase 6 - demolition and modern levelling. Radiocarbon dates were obtained on two of the skeletons.
Sue Anderson
14 - 18
Sue Anderson
14 - 18
The assemblage comprised four discrete inhumations and some disarticulated bone representing a minimum of six individuals. All were male or probable male. Notable features included dental wear associated with the use of clay tobacco pipes, healed rib fractures and a depressed skull fracture. The burials have been dated to the early post-medieval period and are probably 16th or early 17th century. They may originally have been within the boundary of a much larger parish church or alternatively could be the burials of executed prisoners.
Derek W Hall
George R Haggarty
19 - 21
Derek W Hall
George R Haggarty
Dennis B Gallagher
Sue Anderson
Adam Jackson
Dawn McLaren
Andrew Heald
Catherine Smith
19 - 28
This chapter comprises specialist reports on pottery, clay pipes, ceramic building material, fired clay, stone, glass, terracotta, metalwork, vitrified material, worked bone and animal bone.
Dennis B Gallagher
21
Sue Anderson
21 - 22
Adam Jackson
22
Sue Anderson
22 - 23
Sue Anderson
23
Dawn McLaren
Andrew Heald
23 - 24
Catherine Smith
24
Catherine Smith
24 - 27
Sue Anderson
27 - 28
29 - 30
A phased overview of the excavated features is presented.
Sue Anderson
31
The excavation has provided new information on late medieval to post-medieval development and land use in this part of Leith and provided some insight into the construction techniques for a large house of the 17th century and its services. Two alternative explanations are considered for the presence of the burials.
32
33 - 34
Ross White
Chris O'Connell
The remains of the front of Balmerino House, built in 1631, were uncovered during an archaeological excavation at St Mary's Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church, Constitution Street, Leith. The work also revealed several phases of medieval to post-medieval activity, and a small burial ground which predated the house. The earliest feature uncovered by the excavation was a well containing 13th- to 14th-century pottery. Large quantities of late to post-medieval pottery were recovered, as well as iron objects, glass and bone. The human remains comprised six adult males, although some were incomplete due to later disturbance. Of importance to the history of clay tobacco pipe manufacture in Scotland is a small assemblage of clay-pipe wasters and kiln waste dated c1630'“40.