GUARD Archaeology Ltd in partnership with the Museum of Edinburgh at Huntly House in the Canongate, and the City of Edinburgh Council Archaeology Service, caried out a small archaeological investigation in the courtyard to the rear of Huntly House.

Huntly House is named after the Duchess of Gordon who lived here in the eighteenth century but the present building dates from 1570 when three small houses located side by side and dated to 1517 were united and extended. In 1647 the building was bought by the ‘Incorporation of Hammermen’ (the Guild for metalworkers, from blacksmiths to goldsmiths, and who also owned the Magdalene Chapel in the Cowgate) who undertook various renovations and extensions before a major renovation in 1671. Further building works took place over the years until the last major refurbishment in 1927-32 by Frank C Mears when the building became a museum.

The post-medieval to modern history of the building is therefore relatively well known but little is known about the medieval history of the building and the earlier use of the site. There have been a number of excavations recently within the Old Town of Edinburgh and especially the Canongate part of Old Town Edinburgh, that is the lower part of the Royal Mile, between the World’s End Pub and the Palace of Holyrood. This excavation provides an opportunity to find out more about this site and the development of Canongate.

Three small trial trenches are being excavated across the courtyard, with four main aims

  • To establish if archaeological deposits survive within the courtyard
  • To determine the extent of any archaeological deposits uncovered.
  • To determine the date or range of dates for the deposits within the courtyard.
  • To try and understand how the deposits relate to Huntly House and to the development of the Canongate

The aim will be to obtain as much information regarding the deposits while causing the least amount of disturbance to these deposits.

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