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Big Cousland Dig 2008

Big Cousland Dig 2008

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Published by David Connolly
A community archaeology project was carried out at the village of Cousland in Midlothian. The sites that formed the investigations were located in a fi eld to the west of Cousland, the environs of the castle and walled garden in the centre of the village and the windmill to the southwest.
The work consisted of fi eld walking and geophysical survey with the intention of locating the actual pottery site, geophysics to locate structures in the environs of the castle and walled garden and a metal detecting survey to pinpoint any metal objects in both the walled garden and the fi eld directly to the south of the castle. Excavations were carried out to test the geophysics results in the pottery
fi eld, to locate the missing wall of the castle, the layout and walls of the residential structure adjacent to the castle, to locate the greenhouse and to investigate geophysics results inside the walled garden. Research was also carried out to place all the known structures into their historical context. The ruined windmill was cleared of vegetation and a test trench was put in to investigate the potential for subsurface structures. These works were commissioned by Cousland Local History Project and funded entirely by The Heritage Lottery Fund. The work was undertaken in October 2007, April 2008 and July 2008.

The pottery field was restricted to one test trench due to time restrictions and excavation was limited to 2m away from the walls of the castle and walled garden due to their scheduled ancient monuments(SAM) status and safety considerations. The field to the north of the castle was restricted to geophysical and metal detecting surveys as limitation on time restricted any other work being carried out.
The work will enable the interpretation of the known standing structures of Cousland and develop a research strategy for the newly discovered sites. This project will also form the basis for a future educational/artistic and interpretation project.
A community archaeology project was carried out at the village of Cousland in Midlothian. The sites that formed the investigations were located in a fi eld to the west of Cousland, the environs of the castle and walled garden in the centre of the village and the windmill to the southwest.
The work consisted of fi eld walking and geophysical survey with the intention of locating the actual pottery site, geophysics to locate structures in the environs of the castle and walled garden and a metal detecting survey to pinpoint any metal objects in both the walled garden and the fi eld directly to the south of the castle. Excavations were carried out to test the geophysics results in the pottery
fi eld, to locate the missing wall of the castle, the layout and walls of the residential structure adjacent to the castle, to locate the greenhouse and to investigate geophysics results inside the walled garden. Research was also carried out to place all the known structures into their historical context. The ruined windmill was cleared of vegetation and a test trench was put in to investigate the potential for subsurface structures. These works were commissioned by Cousland Local History Project and funded entirely by The Heritage Lottery Fund. The work was undertaken in October 2007, April 2008 and July 2008.

The pottery field was restricted to one test trench due to time restrictions and excavation was limited to 2m away from the walls of the castle and walled garden due to their scheduled ancient monuments(SAM) status and safety considerations. The field to the north of the castle was restricted to geophysical and metal detecting surveys as limitation on time restricted any other work being carried out.
The work will enable the interpretation of the known standing structures of Cousland and develop a research strategy for the newly discovered sites. This project will also form the basis for a future educational/artistic and interpretation project.

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Published by: David Connolly on Oct 19, 2008
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Summary

An area ground resistance survey, totalling 7,600 sq.m .. was conducted in

the field in which the remains of Cousland Castle or Tower House stands. A
further 3,200 sq.m. were surveyed in the field that lies immediately to the south
of the castle field.

In the area adjacent to the castle historical documents showed apparent ancillary
buildings and Cousland Nunnery was reputed to lie further to the south.
The field surrounding the castle appears to have been quarried for limestone
reducing the field level by about 0.5m and thus destroying any foundations
that were close to the castle. The eastern entrance to the castle stands on solid
limestone bedrock some 0.5m.above present field level. It is presumed that
the topsoil was replaced over the main area of the field subsequent to the
quarrying.

High resistance patches, to the east of the wall that runs southwards from the
castle, looked as though there could however be some remaining demolition
debris. Other areas of high and low resistance were amorphous in shape
suggesting that holes left from excavation, infilled with possible topsoil and
therefore low resistance, together with patches of high resistance where the
limestone had probably not been removed, indicated quarrying activity rather
than building.

The 2,000 sq.m. surveyed beside the south fence of the field and the 3,200 sq.m.
that were surveyed in the adjacent field to the south show rectangular and square
features that are very suggestive of building footings. These extend to the east
from the 20 by 20 metre squares beside the road for at least 50 metres.

Work on the resistivity
survey within the
Castle Field and Walled
Garden.

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Big Cousland Dig - Community Archaeology Project

Introduction

The remains of Cousland Castle NGR NT 3780 6830, stand in a field on the
south side of the main street, unclassified, that runs approximately east-west
through the village of Cousland. Butting on to the castle on the west side is
a wall that appears to have enclosed a later walled garden. This area has been
levelled, possibly in association with the removal of limestone and there are the
remains of a disused lime kiln about 200m.to the south.

The area is associated with the Macgill family, initially of Nisbet and Cranston
Riddell who, by marriage into the Primrose family, later became of ‘Cranston
Riddell and Drylaw’. Sir James Macgill was a Provost of Edinburgh and his great
grandson was, in 1651, created Viscount Oxford and Lord Macgill of Cousland. He
had held the position of Lord of Session since November) 1629.

The survey objectives were firstly to ascertain, in advance of a programmed
excavation, whether building footings could be detected in the area surrounding
the castle and secondly to survey to the south of the castle to see whether any
remains of the nunnery could be found. The use of area ground resistance survey
equipment was deemed adequate to indicate whether there were any relevant
foundations still in existence.

Method

The field survey was started on 23 September 2006 on the western side of the
castle. Ten 20 by 20 metre squares were laid out with the western side of four
of these on a line 1.0m from the west wall. The north wall is not precisely at right
angles to the west wall; this necessitated having to make the extreme north-
western corner of the survey 3.0m from the north wall. The first square surveyed
was the one in this NW corner; the start point was adjacent to the west wall and
twenty readings were taken proceeding northwards. The survey was then made
zigzagging south and then north again across the three squares that have their
north side adjacent to the north wall. The last row of these three squares was, at
its northern end, I.6m. from the castle wall. The next three squares were surveyed
in a similar manner starting adjacent to the west wall and proceeding zig-zag to
the east. The final square surveyed on the 23rd was in the next row to the south
beside the west wall. The two squares to the east of this and the fourth square
beside the west wall were surveyed on 10 February 2007.

The area to the east of the castle is just over 20m wide and four 20 by 20m
squares were laid out and surveyed on 2 June 2007. Measurements were made
starting at the SW corner and proceeding northwards and thence across the
square zig-zag. The three squares to the north were surveyed in turn completing
on the eastern edge of the most northerly square. The western edge of these
squares is on a line 3.7m. from the face of the wall that runs south from the castle.
The southern border of the (north) square is on the line of the north face of the
south castle wall, see Figure 3

On 29 March 2008 five 20 by 20m. squares were pegged out with their southern
border 1.0 m from the wire fence along the southern side of the field and their
western edge on the same alignment as the 23 September 2006 survey. The most
westerly of these was surveyed first and overlapped, on its north side, the final
square surveyed on 10 February 2007, by 4.8m. The fifth square in this row was

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Big Cousland Dig - Community Archaeology Project

curtailed by the garden fences of houses to the east; thirteen metre rows were
measured and seven entered as dummies. Four further squares were laid out,
later in the day, on the south side of the wire fence; these are aligned with the
four most westerly squares on the south side of the fence. Due to the diffi culty
of making measurements close to the fence there is a 2.0m gap between the
squares measured in the morning and those in the afternoon.

The final survey was made on 5 April 2008 of four 20 by 20m. squares that
adjoined, on the south side, those that had been recorded on 29 March. As on
previous surveys the start was made in the southwest corner and proceeded zig-
zag across the four squares. All 20 by 20m.squares are shown in the site plan

(Figure 3)

The TRlCIA area ground resistance measuring equipment was used throughout
the survey. The equipment operates in the ‘twin’ configuration in which two of
the probes are mounted on a portable frame 0.5m apart. They comprise one
current input and one potential measurement probe. The two remote probes,
again one for current input and one for potential measurement, complete the
two circuits; they are inserted about 1.0 m apart and are positioned so that no
reading is taken with the portable frame nearer than 15m to them. All readings
were taken at 1.0 m intervals in lanes 1.0 m wide with the 400 measurements in
each 20 by 20m. square recorded walking zig-zag north and south up and down
the 20m. lanes. In surveying the larger area there was a requirement to move
the remote probes due to the limited length of the cable. A final reading was
taken with the probes in their initial position; the probes were then moved and
their distance apart adjusted to obtain, as near as possible, the same resistance
reading on the metre. A small resistance difference can be corrected during the
print out process using the computer ‘edge matching’ facility.

The unit on the frame generates the 137Hz signal current that flows through
the ground and the potential drop is detected by the measurement probes; the
computer in the unit converts this voltage reading in to a ground resistance value
in ohms. Within the unit is the display, that indicates this resistance, together
with the data store into which the readings are dumped for later processing and
printing. The data were down loaded, via the RS232 interface, to a computer and
printer running the programme ‘Snuffl er’. The printout is in grey scale with the
black and white limits chosen based upon the highest and lowest ohms readings
recorded. It is normal practice to print high resistance (well drained areas and
bedrock) as black and low resistance (infilled ditches and damp areas) as white.
Computer processing of the data includes the facility to average between
adjacent metre squares and thence to half metre /squares, this gives a printout
that shows smoother gradation than would be the case if the pixel size had not
been reduced from the original 1.Om square., It is normal to use a final processed
sample size of 0.25m. The black to white ohms range is shown in the printouts as
is the processed sample size.

Example of a resistivity
plot - the darker areas
show positive features.
(North is to the right)

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Big Cousland Dig - Community Archaeology Project

Results

The large amorphous high and low resistance areas on both the east and west
sides of the castle seem to confirm that the limestone bedrock, that originally
lay close to the old land surface, has been removed in places, to a depth of about
0.5m. The eastern entry in to the castle, which now stands about this height
above field level on a solid limestone foundation, would appear to confirm this
supposition. The removed topsoil was probably spread back over the field and
infilled the excavated areas. The infilling, due to holding more moisture, appears
as lower resistance in the printouts.

The British Geological Survey maps of the area, Ref. 8.1, support this interpretation.
The Solid geology is shown as comprising sections of both the North Greens and
Top Hosie Limestones that form part of the Carboniferous Group. On the Drift
geology map ‘artificial deposits and worked ground’ together with ‘bedrock at or
near the surface or beneath artificial deposits’ are recorded.

The area between the west wall of the ‘walled garden’ and the castle has been
levelled for about 65m.southwards from the north wall. At that point the ground
rises quite sharply and incorporates a linear high resistance that could represent
the south wall of the garden; this appears in the final 20 by 20m. square surveyed
on 20 February 2007. To the south of this change in level of the field the ground
slopes gently up to the southern fence with the field to the south of the fence
being roughly level. Within the walled garden it is diffi cult to interpret any
significant anomalous features. Two vague high resistance lines run parallel to
the west wall and may relate to a series of socket holes on the wall suggesting
that a lean-to greenhouse may have existed. The only other small feature appears
within about l5m.of the west wall of the castle on a different alignment.

There is historical record of buildings in the field to the south-east of the castle
and features on the wall that runs to the south from the castle confirm that a
range did exist in that direction. Two significant high resistance spots that lay to
the east of butting points on to this wall could represent demolition debris.

The five 20 by 20m. squares surveyed on the south side of the field show no
obvious features at the eastern end where they were curtailed by garden fencing;
the amorphous high resistance appears to be limestone bedrock. The two squares
on the west side are significantly lower in resistance and show possible linear
features that run north-south about 2 and 7 metres east of the road. A square
structure, divided symmetrically into four, appears 20m. from the road and about
7m. south of the fence.

The eight 20 by 20m. squares surveyed in the field to the south of the fence show
a series of raised resistance lines, again mainly aligned approximately north
south, parallel with and starting adjacent to the road. These could be linked, in
the three most southerly squares adjacent to the road, by more pronounced
high resistance lines aligned east west. The fmal square, in the extreme south
east corner of the survey, has a high resistance line that runs almost parallel to its
eastern edge with an apparent turn to the east at the northern end. It must be
assumed that this feature extends outside the surveyed area.

page 17

Big Cousland Dig - Community Archaeology Project

Conclusion

The initial aim of attempting to detect ancillary buildings adjacent to the
castle was relatively unsuccessful apparently due to the removal of limestone
bedrock and its replacement by ‘worked ground’. The remains of an old lime kiln
within the wood some 200m to the south suggest that this explanation is likely
to be correct. The area to the southeast of the castle, alongside the wall that runs
to the south, did indicate two high resistance areas that appeared to relate to
buildings that had their west ends incorporated in this wall but most of the area
appears to have suffered from limestone extraction.

The area within the ‘walled garden’ shows no significant features and must have
been excavated for limestone except at its southern end. The assumed south wall
of the garden does not extend clearly to the wall beside the road and appears to
stop some lam short of this wall in a square feature. The survey did not extend
to the east to ascertain whether a similar square feature was detectable at this
end.

The survey at the southern end of the field and in the next field to the south was
significantly more successful in detecting rectangular shaded higher resistance
outlines that can be interpreted as man made structures. It was suggested that,
due to small fids, the nunnery buildings could have been located in this area and
the rectangular outlines are plausible foundations for these buildings. The main
high resistance features run at right angles to the road which, at this point, is
aligned about ten degrees west of grid north. The small subdivided square, that
lies about 20m. east of the road and 8m north of the wire fence, is on this same
alignment. The less pronounced raised resistance lines that run from the main
high resistance features possibly extend over 30m.to the north and may have
been detected on the edge of the field to the north.

The linear high resistance, that lies on the edge of the square in the extreme south
east corner of the survey, is aligned slightly differently. This ‘wall’ runs almost due
north and south with a right angled turn to the east at its northern end. This
could be construed as west wall of a building laid out more accurately on an east
west axis and therefore more likely to be of ecclesiastical origin or possibly in a
different building phase from those on the different alignment.

Acknowledgements

The Society records its thanks to all who made this project possible and successful.
David Connolly, who issued the first invitation for the Society to become involved in the
surveys in conjunction with the Cousland Local History Project.

David was also instrumental in organising the grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
This covered ground resistance equipment expenses, travel, administration, part of
members insurance on site and the preparation and printing of this report.

The data processing was carried out by Jan Hawkins who also supplied the ground
resistance printouts for the illustrations.
Fourteen Society members contributed to the 35 member days during the five days of
survey; they are:
Kathleen Allenach, Alan Calder, Graeme Collie, Charles Conner, Val Dean, Hugh
Dinwoodie, Jan Hawkins, David lones, Bill Mac1ennan, Don Matthews, Tom Sharp, Denis
Smith, Jill Strobridge and Brian Tait.

page 18

Big Cousland Dig - Community Archaeology Project

5.1.2 Metal Detecting (Scottish Detector Club) (Appendix 4)

Members of the Scottish Detecting Club, kindly offered to help the Big Cousland
Dig, by expertly sweeping the area for any metallic finds, both in the fields, and also
in the trenches, to alert us to any missed items. Indeed it could be said that some
of the best ‘artefacts’ came from their survey. No discernable
pattern was picked up, and no significant concentrations were
observed. However, the items that were recovered do in some
way represent the later history of Cousland. From the 16th
century came the buckle of a shoe (Find MD 008), from a person
who would have known Cousland at the time of Mary Queen of
Scots and the Battle of Carberry4

and when both the Castle
and Residence were standing. The restoration of the monarchy
can be seen from two 1670’s Charles II turners, (Find MD013
and MD 050) and then the disastrous end of the Stewart Kings
with James II’s infamous Gun Money5

, how did this coin end

up here? A 1797 George III Cartwheel penny6

(MD 075) brings
us into the industrial age, when the pottery, windmill, smiddy
and walled garden would all have been built only 5 to 25 years
earlier. A link to World War II can be found in a fragment of a
Mills Grenade (Find MD 001) which may have
been used during a live ammunition exercise in
the quarry to the south.

Find MD 50
Scotish Turner
with cleaned
example below.

Find MD 52 James
VI Gun money with
cleaned example
below.

Above left: late 16th century buckle
Above right: 1940s army issue webbing buckle.

4 On a hot sunny day on Carberry Hill in June 1567, Queen Mary spent her last few hours of freedom. It is
suggested she was taken first to Cousland Castle – the Ruthven’s Residence – before she began her captivity,
first in Scotland and then in England, which was only to end 20 years later in her execution.

5 Gun money was an issue of coins made by the forces of James II during the Irish Civil War between 1689
and 1691. Minted in base metal, these were designed to be redeemed for silver coins following a victory by
James II and consequently bore the date in months to allow a gradual replacement. As James lost the war,
that replacement never took place, although the coins were allowed to circulate at much reduced values
before the copper coinage was resumed.They were mostly withdrawn from circulation in the early 18th
century.

6 The first copper coins that Boulton minted for the British Government are know as ‘cartwheels’, because of
their large size and raised rims. 500 tons of these penny and also twopenny pieceswere minted in 1797

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Big Cousland Dig - Community Archaeology Project

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