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Inveresk, Wedderburn House
- HER number: MEL2383
- Site Name: Inveresk, Wedderburn House
- Grid Reference: 334800 671399
- Civil Parish:
- Summary: Excavation of Roman Iron Age field system, ring ditch, and rig and furrow
- Description: NT37SW 218 348 714
(1) NT 348 714 area. An archaeological evaluation was carried out in March - April 1995 within the grounds of Wedderburn House (c.2.4ha), in advance of the sale of the property by Lothian Regional Council and the anticipated redevelopment of the site. Although no archaeological features has previously been recorded, the property lies within the area of field systems and Roman temporary military works E of the Roman Fort and civilian settlement at Inveresk.
Desk-based assessment, geophysical survey, trial trenching and soils analysis were employed in order to establish the archaeological potential of the gardens to the SW and NE of Wedderburn House, avoiding heavily landscaped areas and the positions of demolished outbuildings. Excavation of features was kept to the minimum necessary to establish their depth and complexitiy, and the excavation of pits and intersection points between features was avoided. As the filling material of archaeological features was mostly an homogenised brown sandy material, the stratigraphical relationships between features could not be established for the most part.
The valuation methods have defined an archaeologically sensitive area to the NE of the house. Here, several lengths of ditch are visible on oblique aerial photographs (RCAHMS 1978, ML/3218); fieldwork located some of these, and exposed further ditches and pits. Test sections were excavated through two of the ditches, revealing them to be in the order of 2m wide and 0.8m deep with steep-sided sandy fills. The ditches were sealed beneath a buried ploughsoil, which indicates that they are of pre-modern origin. An incomplete plan of the features was revealed, and it is not currently possible to determine whether the various ditches can be seen as represnting either a single complex or palimpsest.
The aerial photographicn evidence indicated a curvilinear cropmark springing from one of the ditches. A trial trench excavated at this point (50, fig.22) partially exposed a probable ring-groove house, but not the intersection between this and the ditch (503). The structure comprised a squared slot c.0.45m across and c.0.40m deep (510/514), immediately within which ran a slot 0.20m wide and 0.10m deep (511/513): this double feature may represnt evidence either of structural complexity or of rebuilding. Several pits or post holes lay within the curvature of the slots, which, assuming a regular circular form, would circumscribe a structure in the order of 10m across. A second slightly curving slot crossed the putative ring-groove obliquely (508/515), appears to be unrelated to this structure.
Most of the features recorded elsewhere in the gardens were of demonstrably modern origin, and included utility service trenches, large pits filled with modern debris and garden paths.
A full report is with NMRS.
Sponsor: Lothian Regional Council
A J Dunwell (CFA) 1995
(2) Geophysical survey and trial trenching by CFA, 800m SE of the fort revealed a number of ditches, possibly to be interpreted as field boundaries of Roman date, and the curving foundation of a ring-groove house of Iron Age date; parts of the area had seen considerable modern disturbance.
L J F Keppie 1996
(3) NT 348 715 The grounds of this 19th-century house are to be developed in three phases. The first phase involved monitoring in May and June 2003 of topsoil stripping in the NW garden. A series of ditches, mostly aligned NE-SW, were exposed, along with several clusters of post-holes and a well.
The ditches are clearly part of the extensive Iron Age field system known to the E and S of the present site. Two ditches appeared to demarcate a trackway, with several gateways issuing into the fields on each side. The well was located adjacent to this putative trackway in the NW corner of a field. It was approximately 5m deep, but was not fully excavated and will be preserved in situ.
The ditches cut across the palisade trench of an enclosure that only partially lay within the site. It appears to have been circular and some 30m in diameter.
In the SE corner of the site lay a cluster of post-holes, which are presumed to relate to the ring-groove house previously identified (DES 1995, 49-50). Prehistoric pottery was recovered from one of these features.
Several medieval pits of unknown function were excavated. The site was crossed by broad shallow rig and furrow of medieval or later date.
Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.
Sponsor: Gemcross Homes Ltd.
R Conolly 2003
(4) NT 348 715 The second of three phases of work in the grounds of 19th-century Wedderburn House (DES 2003, 60) saw the excavation in May and June 2004 of the NE garden (Area 3), much of which was found to be sealed by a ploughsoil. This was of sufficient depth to allow the northernmost third of the site to be preserved in situ.
The excavation revealed a series of ditches across the site, mostly aligned NE¿SW, along with clusters of post-holes and gullies.
The ditches are clearly part of the extensive Roman Iron Age field system known to the E and S of the present site, and exposed in the excavations of Area 2 last year. The ditches in the NW part of the site were aligned NE¿SW, as in Area 2. In the centre of the site, the ditches were aligned N¿S, forming a triangular-shaped enclosure at this point. A gap at the southern end of this enclosure suggests a gateway to the fields on either side. Several sherds of
Roman pottery were recovered from the ditch fills. In the NW half of the site were a number of pits, post-holes and curvilinear gullies thought to relate to the ring-groove house identified by previous work (DES 1995, 49¿50). One small pit produced a large amount of Roman pottery. No clear relationship was identified between these possible structures and the ditches, although they are unlikely to have been contemporary. A semi-circular post structure was found immediately to the W of the ring-groove house.
Several small pits of unknown date and function were also excavated. The site was crossed by shallow rig and furrow of medieval or later date. A number of modern ash pits truncated some of the features and relationships.
Reports to be lodged with East Lothian SMR and the NMRS.
Sponsor: Gemcross Homes Ltd.
E Jones 2004
NT 3487 7143 The third phase of excavation in September 2005 within the gardens of Wedderburn House, undertaken in advance of house-building, saw the stripping of topsoil from the remainder of the NE garden. Much of the stripped area had been disturbed by ash pits and hedge lines relating to Wedderburn House, but ditches of the NE¿SW aligned field system that had been recorded in previous phases survived (e.g. DES 2004, 44¿5). A pair of parallel ditches ran at right angles to the main ditches, presumably demarcating a trackway. Sherds of Samian and Romano-British pottery were recovered from the ditch fills. A quarry pit, containing Romano-British pottery, cut or was cut by a field system ditch, but the stratigraphic relationship could not be established.
The shallow remnants of rig and furrow of medieval or later date survived in the southern part of the site. Two undated pits were excavated. They were up to 1.2m deep and cut into sandy gravel, yet had vertical sides and relatively gravel-free fills, indicating that they may have been lined. A small flagged surface was also recorded, but not dated.
Report to be lodged with East Lothian SMR and NMRS.
Sponsor: Gemcross Homes Ltd.
R Connolly 2005
- For more information contact: East Lothian Council HER
- Related Places:
- Associated Periods:
- Bibliographic reference: Conolly, R. 2005a. 'Wedderburn House, Inveresk (Inveresk parish), Roman Iron Age field system', Discovery Excav Scot, vol.6, 2005. 54.
- (1) Bibliographic reference: Dunwell, A J. 1995b. 'Wedderburn House, Inveresk (Inveresk parish), ring-groove house (probable), ditches', Discovery Excav Scot 1995, p.49-50. 49-50. fig.22.
- (2) Bibliographic reference: Keppie, L J F. 1996. 'Roman Britain in 1995. I. Sites explored. 2. Scotland', , Britannia Vol. 27 1996, p.396-405. 402.
- (3) Bibliographic reference: Conolly, R. 2003b. 'Wedderburn House, Inveresk (Inveresk parish), watching brief', Discovery Excav Scot Vol. 4 2003, p.60. 60.
- (4) Bibliographic reference: Jones, E. 2004a. Wedderburn House, Inveresk (Inveresk parish), Roman/Iron Age field system and ?settlement', Discovery Excav Scot, 5, 2004, p 44-5. . 44-5.