Newfarm, Salters Road
- HER number: MEL8391
- Site Name: Newfarm, Salters Road
- Grid Reference: 334778 668818
- Civil Parish:
- Monument Type:
- Long Cist Cemetery
- Pit Alignment
- Ring Ditch
- Summary: Long cist cemetery, pit alignment, palisade, ring-groove structure
- Description: NT36NW 5 3478 6885 and 3476 6893
(NT 3478 6885) Long Cists found AD 1837 (NAT)
OS 6" map (1968)
(1)-(3) A cemetery of over fifty long cists, containing human bones, with the feet towards the E, was found in November 1838 when some labourers were digging for sand a few yards W (sic) of Newfarm, and about the same distance S (sic) of the Musselburgh road. They lay not more than 2' below the surface of the ground. As the digging was not continued farther, there can be little doubt that many more remain.
NSA 1845; A S Henshall 1958; RCAHMS 1988
(4) In October 1970, two long cists were cut into by a pipeline trench at NT 3475 6887; they were noticed by the digger driver who notified the RCAHMS. When examined by Maxwell, the cists, whose ends were destroyed by the excavator, lay about 1.0m apart, aligned about NE-SW at a depth of about 40 cms below ground level, and projected from opposite sides of the trench. They were composed of small slabs of locally available sandstone and were no more than 37cm in height and between 56cm and 42cm in internal width as far as visible. The cist to the E had a collapsed capstone still in position, but there was no sign of a cover for the other.
At NT 3474 6887, some 170' NNE, a small collection of bones was found in a shallow dip in the subsoil, here at a depth of 90 cm below modern ground level. No stone slabs were noted in the vicinity, although a number of small rounded boulders were adjacent to the bones, according to the finder.
At NT 3475 6880, about 65' SSW of the two disturbed cists, a horizontal sandstone slab projected from the E wall of the trench and several more slabs were scattered about the spoil heap, indicating the possible whereabouts of another cist, although this one must have been disturbed before being cut by the pipeline. No bones were found in the immediate vicinity.
Information from G S Maxwell, RCAHMS, visited 26 October 1970.
(4) No further information.
Visited by OS (BS) 30 October 1975.
(5) NT 335 695-NT 378 667 An archaeological evaluation was undertaken between September and November 1994 of the proposed route of the A68 Dalkeith Northern Bypass, from its proposed junction with the Edinburgh City Bypass to its proposed junction with the existing A68 at Fordel Mains. The evaluation comprised a desk-based assessment, field inspection, selective fieldwalking, and trial trenching. A total area of 9872 sq m, divided between 154 trenches in 23 land parcels, was sampled by trial trenching along the road corridor.
The evaluation did not find any direct evidence of the cist cemetery (NMRS NT36NW 5) known to lie adjacent to a proposed slip road (NT 348 688). However, the sand extraction pit mentioned in the NMRS record, and in which the cists were located, was found, as was a pipe trench opened in the 1970s, in which two cists were also previously located.
Sponsor: Roads Directorate of The Scottish Office Industry Department, managed on its behalf by Historic Scotland.
R J Strachan and A R Rees 1995.
(6) NT 3476 6893 A watching brief was carried out in advance of pipe rerouting work in the vicinity of Barons Park and the site of the Roman temporary camp (NT36NW 33) excavated by CFA in 1995 (Dunwell 1995, 55). No archaeological features or deposits were located.
Sponsor: a hak Ltd.
A R Rees 1997
(7) NT 3476 6893 Four stone-lined long cists were located at Thornybank in October 1996, during a watching brief being carried out prior to the rerouting of a gas main. Further excavation revealed a total of 115 burials of a variety of types. The majority of these were of stone-lined long cist type, which dominated the northern area of the site. By contrast, its southern sector contained 38 unlined dug graves, which upon excavation revealed evidence of semi-circular log or leather coffins surviving as stains in the fine sand subsoil. All the burials were aligned approximately ENE-WSW. While the long cists were usually arranged in orderly rows, most of the unlined burials were laid out in a more irregular fashion, often in small groups. Large quantities of skeletal material were recovered from the 47 adult and 21 infant long cist burials, and in some cases complete skeletons survived. From most of the unlined graves, tooth enamel and occasional cranial fragments were also recovered. Almost all the cists were constructed from large, flat, locally available sandstone slabs. These comprised the upright edging stones, flat bases, and the lintel covering slabs which sealed the burials. Three dressed cist slabs were recovered from graves at opposite sides of the cemetery. These slightly wedge-shaped slabs were originally used as arch slabs in a Roman bathhouse and probably originated from the nearby Roman site at Elginhaugh (Lawrence Keppie, pers comm).
Two dug burials were enclosed by shallow U-shaped ditches, rectangular in plan. The ditch of the larger measured 5.6 x 4.4m externally and 4.6 x 3.3m internally. The enclosed grave was 2.5 x 0.95m by 1m deep. The smaller burial had the disturbed remains of a stone cairn spread over the general area of the burial with several large stones set into the top fills of the rectilinear ditch. A further dug burial was bounded at its four corners by four substantial post-holes, three of which were roughly square in plan. A parallel for this has been excavated at Munchen-Aubing in Germany, where a reconstruction proposed a small wooden shrine/mortuary house known as a Totenmemorium constructed over the rectangular grave pit. The example from Thornybank is thought to be the first excavated example of this grave type in Britain.
In the process of excavating the cemetery, the remnants of later prehistoric features were identified, consisting of a ring-groove house, a pit alignment and associated bank, and a possible palisade. The ring-groove house, measuring c.9m in diameter, was formed by a curvilinear slot and an internal concentric ring of post-holes. The pit alignment comprised ten pits (nine of which were excavated) aligned approximately E-W. Running parallel to this and some 2m to the N were the vestigial traces of an upcast bank. All the pits were of roughly similar dimensions, measuring 4.2 x 2.2m by 0.8m in depth, with trough-like bases. Some 25m to the S, a linear slot or possible palisade line which also lay exactly parallel to the pit alignment and bank was excavated. It would appear that the four features- the pit alignment, bank, ring-groove structure and possible palisade- are spatially related. However, radiocarbon dates will be required to confirm their contemporaneity as they cannot be linked stratigraphically. Several sherds of prehistoric pottery were recovered from the slot of the ring-groove. Other finds include a large cup-marked stone from the lower fills of a pit on the alignment.
The remains of a rectilinear structure with an adjacent pit were located S of the above features. Overall, the rectilinear structure measured 7.6 x 3.2m (the W side slightly truncated by machine excavator). The structure was aligned E-W and appeared to have a large ?entrance at the E end. The rectangular slot defining the structure had frequent stake-holes along its base, possibly indicating the temporary nature of the structure. The adjacent pit measured 1.3m in diameter, was 0.5m deep and appeared to have been recut on several occasions. It was filled with angular fire-cracked stones 0.15-0.3m in diameter within a sandy matrix of soot and ashy material: it is unlikely to have held any structural uprights.
The pit and the rectangular slot are most likely associated: however, wind and frost damage erased the stratigraphic connection between these features prior to excavation. One small sherd of plain prehistoric pottery was recovered from the slot of the rectilinear structure.
The National Roads Directorate of The Scottish Office Development Department, managed on their behalf by Historic Scotland, via Transco.
A R Rees 1997
NMRS REPORT DATE: 18/08/2000
- For more information contact: MidLothian Council HER
- Related Interventions:
- Related Places:
- Bibliographic reference: Keppie, L J F. 1997. 'Roman Britain in 1996. 1. Sites explored. 2. Scotland', Britannia Vol. 28 1997, p.405-414. 408-409.
- Article in serial: Cameron, K; Cressey, M; Duwell, A; Mitchell, S; Rees, A; Strachan, R and Suddaby, I. 2010. Excavations on the Route of the Dalkeith Northern Bypass, 1994-95 and 2006.
- Bibliographic reference: Rees, A. 2002. A first Millennium AD cemetery, rectangular Bronze Age structure and late prehistoric settlement at Thornybank, Midlothian', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 132, 2002, p 313-356. . 313-356.
- (1) Bibliographic reference: NSA. 1845. The new statistical account of Scotland by the ministers of the respective parishes under the superintendence of a committee of the society for the benefit of the sons and daughters of the clergy. Vol.1, (Edinburgh), 27????>??
- (2) Bibliographic reference: Henshall, A S. 1958a. 'The long cist cemetery at Lasswade, Midlothian', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 89 1955-6, p.252-83. 279.
- (3) Bibliographic reference: RCAHMS. 1929. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Tenth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the counties of Midlothian and West Lothian. 65, No.81.
- (4) Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Site Visit.
- (5) Bibliographic reference: Strachan and Rees, R J and A R. 1995. 'A68 Dalkeith Northern Bypass (Newton, Inveresk, Dalkeith, Cranston and Newbattle parishes), archaeological evaluation and excavations', Discovery Excav Scot 1995, p.55-56. 55-56.
- (6) Bibliographic reference: Rees, A R. 1997b. 'Smeaton, near Dalkeith (Newton parish), watching brief', Discovery Excav Scot 1997, p.53. 53.
- (7) Bibliographic reference: Rees, A R. 1997c. 'Thornybank, near Dalkeith (Newton parish), long cist cemetery, pit alignment, ring-groove, rectilinear structure', Discovery Excav Scot 1997, p.53-4. 53-54. 54, Fig 12.