East Lothian Golf Courses
With 22 courses it might be said that East Lothian has devoted more than enough land to the sport of golf, but the landscape hides several lost courses in addition and plans are often proposed in the local press that would add to the total. This page looks at the courses from a slightly different angle!
Most of the courses run along a belt of coastal land, between the sea and the relict shoreline of an earlier period (recognisable as a belt of rising land). Winterfield at Dunbar demonstrates this to perfection. In times past, this belt of coastal land was prone to both erosion and deposition as sand was moved by the elements. It was only ever of marginal agricultural use and as areas of such ‘links’ or ‘bents’ bordered all of the coastal communities they were often given over to common grazing or used as sporting ground. In the deep past, we now recognise that these areas were frequented by the earliest inhabitants of East Lothian and that their traces can be widely found.
This means that the golf courses have hidden resources that give them a wider interest and responsibility – as custodians of significant archaeology and natural habitat. In the former case, the new courses at Archerfield were only developed with archaeological input that resulted in the ‘discovery’ and excavation of part of the ‘lost’ settlement of Eldbotle, known until then only from early maps and documents. Similarly, even minor work on a course can throw up insights into the past. More Mesolithic sites are suspected and several courses are known to have unexcavated shell middens. Burials and their associated materials are regular finds, such at Dunbar and North Berwick. These discoveries occured before the Historic Environment Record database was kept: today careful track is kept of new finds, both strays on the surface and the result of ground breaking.
So there you go. A different take on the gowf of East Lothian. Perhaps the next time that you’re out on the links, keep an eye on what come up with the divots. And let us know if there’s anything interesting.