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Geophysical Survey adiacent to Cousland Castle
Cousland, Midlothian
P e


1. Summary

2. Introduction

3 . Method

4. Results

5. Conclusions

7. Illustrations

7.1. Plan of Castle Site. Survey Squares Scale 1: 1200

7.2. Ground Resistance Survey Printout. West of Castle.

7.3. Ground Resistance Survey Printout. East of Castle.

7.4. Ground Resistance Survey Printout. South of Castle.

7.5. Ground Resistance Survey Printout. South of Castle Interpretation

8. References

8.1. Geological Survey of Gt. Britain (Scotland) Scale 1:10,560

NT 36 NE Solid and Drift Geology.

Geophysical Survey adiacent to Cousland ~astlec~id1othian.-.


1. 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In the area adjacent to the castle historical documents showed apparent ancillary buildings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

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.

2. 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 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.
3. 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 sidc?of four of th&e on a a,
line 1.Om from the west wall. The north wall is not precisely at right angles to thk
west wall; this necessitated having to make the extreme north-western corne~ofthe
survey 3.0m from the north wall. The first square surveyed was the one in thk NW
corner; the start point was adjacent to the west wall and twenty readings were taken
proceedmg northwards. The survey was then made zig-zagging 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, 1.6m. 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 23rdwas 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 final (north)
square is on the line of the north face of the south castle wall, see Illus. 7.1.

On 29 March 2008 five 20 by 20m. squares were pegged out with their southern
border 1.Om. 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 curtailed by the
garden fences of houses to the east; thirteen metre rows were measured and seven
entered as dummies. Four hrther 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 difficulty 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 Illus. 7.1.

The TR/CIA 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 fiame 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.Om apart and are positioned so that no reading is taken with the portable fiame
nearer than 15m to them. All readings were taken at 1.Omintervals in lanes 1.0m 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 surveymg 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, #e same resistance -
reading on the meter. A small resistance difference can be corrected during t ~ print
e '
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
'Snuffle?. 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 @us. 7.2,7.3 and 7.4) as is the processed sample size,

4. 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 ground7together with 'bedrock at or near the
surface or beneath artificial deposits7are recorded.

The area between the west wall of the 'walled garden' and the castle has been levelled
for about 65m.southwardsfrom 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 difficult 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 15m.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: - H L'

The five 20 by 20m. squares surveyed on the south side of the field show no pbvious
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.fiom 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 final 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.

5. Conclusions

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 suggests 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 fiom limestone

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
10m 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 shaped higher resistance
outlines that can be interpreted as man made structures. It was suggested that, due to
small finds, 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 northP(Seeannotation A on Illus.7.5). +4t both the west and
east ends of these lines are 'structures7 on different alignments. The small subdivided
square, that lies about 20m. east of the road and 8m north of the wire fence, is on the
same alignment as the main high resistance; see annotationB on Illus. 7.51 The less
pronounced raisedind low resistance lines that run'to the nortefrom the main east . /-
.west, high resistance features possibly extend over 30m.and appear to have been
detected on the southern edge of the castle field; see annotation C of Illus. 7.5.
The linear high resistance, that lies on the edge of the square inShe extreme south east .
corner of the survey, is aligned slightly differently. This 'wall' runs almost du'ezn_orth'
and south with a right angled turn to the east at its northern end; see annotation D of
Ulus. 7.5. This could be construed as west wall of a building laid o u ~ m ~ r e ~ a ~ u r a t e l ~
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.

6. Acknowledgements

The Society records its thanks to all who made this project possible and successhl.
To 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 Ian 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, Ian Hawkins, David Jones, Bill Maclennan, Don Matthews, Tom Sharp,
Denis Smith, Jill Strobridge and Brian Tait.
Document: Cou-07View2
Grid Width: 240 (60
, m)

lllus 7.2
Grid Height: 320 (80m) Ground Resistance Survey
Orig. Sample Size: 1.00 x 1.00m Printout, West of Castle
New Sample Size: 0.25 x 0.25rn
lllus 7.3
Ground Resistance Survev
Printout, East of Castle

- -
Document: Cousland-EastView I
-- -- - - -
Grid Width: 80 (20 m)
43.40 85.30
Grid Height: 320 (80 m)
,-.. . .
Orig. Sample Size: I.OO x I.OOm I I
New Sample Size: 0.25 x 0.25m 20.00m
-- - -- - -

Document: C2View2
Grid Width: 400 (100 m)
Grid Height: 320 (80 m)
Orig. Sample Size: 1.00 x 1.00m
New Sample Size: 0.25 x 0.25m
lllus 7.5
Ground Resistance Survey
Printout, South of Castle
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