The Monument Project
Riverside Archaeology 2013
After the successful completion of a number of archaeological digs, walks and events in 2011-2 the Peter Potter Gallery is gearing up to offer the community some exciting new opportunities this year.
As a contemporary art gallery, we are unique in our commissioning of original archaeological research, something we have achieved through partnership working with local archaeologist David Connolly. Also, by involving artists and other art-form specialists – along with the wider community – in the experience of local archaeology, we intend to open up new discussions and stimulate new interpretations of our history. As part of the Monument Project, the Peter Potter Gallery is running a series of archaeology projects and workshops with archaeologist, David Connolly.
There will be exciting digs with the community that will produce original data, helping to further our understanding of this historic East Lothian town. The sites are located along the river near the gallery, ranging in date from the 16th century to the 19th century, with a particular focus on the Siege of Haddington. The workshops and events are fun opportunities that give firsthand experience of an excavation site with archaeologists, as well as taking surveys to record historical data.
If you want to get involved in the project then get in touch with the gallery to join our mailing list for education and events info. Read more about the projects below, and prepare to learn more about Haddington’s rich history in 2013!
CSI Haddington: The siege
This bloodthirsty project will involve surveying and recording the traces left from the Siege of Haddington! Several centuries of rivalry and dispute between Scotland and England led to this siege (1548-49), which involved a number of bloody invasions. The siege was partly the result of King Henry VIII wanting Mary, Queen of Scots to marry his son Edward, otherwise known as the ‘Rough Wooing’. However, while the English, Scots and French fought long and hard, eventually the English abandoned the town due to disease and starvation and leaving utter devastation behind. It is thought that the only remaining evidence Haddington has of the siege is St Mary’s Church, part of which had to be rebuilt following canon fire. However, there are various marks that represent musket fire, which are still visible on the walls today.
The project, CSI Haddington will involve members of the community, expert Dr Tom Dawson and archaeology students to create a catalogue of the church’s signs of the siege. Also, the shot trajectories and its features will be investigated to assess the direction of fire, in order to develop a better understanding of the battle. This can be used to work out the possible attacking strategies and positions of the Scottish and French troops that were trying to invade the town. This could perhaps assist with establishing the boundaries of Haddington’s large earth rampart built by the English, who occupied the town. In addition, this will create further information about the size of the town in the 1540’s and offer an interesting contrast to the 21st century Haddington we know.
Excavation at The Sands: The Washhouse/ Bathhouse
Nearby the Peter Potter Gallery there used to stand an Old Washhouse from the 19th century. It was located by the Nungate Bridge. The building’s exact history is unknown, although there are various maps from 1818 to 1893. They illustrate that a building was present in 1818, which then vanishes in 1953, being replaced by another building that has been labelled as a Public Bath and Wash House (1893). The intriguing history of this building will be investigated further in a week-long excavation open to the public, which may shed light on the past activities and society of Haddington’s residents. There are opportunities for school children and the community to get involved with the dig and surveys in the Nunbridge area, learning more about the local history through these various interactions.
Excavation at Hardgate: Bothwell’s Castle
Our final excavation links to some of the most sensational figures of the sixteenth century. This now ruined town house dates to the late 16th/early 17th century. Its original name is thought to be Sandybed House and it is likely to have been owned by the Cockburn family. There is, however, some debate about this issue - a story that is associated with the property which has led some to consider The 4th Earl of Bothwell, third husband of Mary Queen of Scots, to be the owner. In both the oral history tradition and in 19th century written histories of the region, the house is long recounted as the property of Bothwell. There are some delicious stories about Bothwell’s adventures which we will be both putting to the test and sharing with you this year!
Whilst the house was demolished in the 1950s, what remains below ground provides an interesting comparison to the Siege of Haddington and the life and times of the Queen of Scots. Hopefully, with extensive digging and the help of the community, we can develop upon the little evidence we have about the site and in doing so gain a more informative picture of its history.
Whether or not you have previous experience of archaeology, you are welcome to join us for our exciting workshops which are bound to be very revealing!
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