In 2010 CFA Archaeology Ltd was contracted by Dawn Construction Ltd to carry out a programme of archaeological excavations required in advance of the construction of the £20 million Primary Care Centre in Musselburgh, East Lothian.
The site was known to be archaeologically sensitive, partly due to it being next to Inveresk Roman Fort and partly due to previous discoveries made during an evaluation on the site in 2009. However, for operational reasons the construction programme had to start at the same time as the archaeological works. In order to prevent delays to the construction programme, a carefully planned programme of works was devised whereby the site was divided up into blocks and once a block was fully excavated and signed off by the East Lothian Council Archaeology Service, the area could then be prepared for construction. What followed was almost 3 months of extensive excavation with the construction team hot on our heels. Daily progress meetings were held to ensure that all parties kept were fully informed.
The archaeological remains were extensive and highly significant, and included Iron Age and Roman burials, the base of a rampart for some form of Roman fortification, a Roman field system and a large dump of midden material which was thought to have come from the clearing out of the adjacent Roman Fort. This midden contained large quantities of animal bone, pottery, weapons and tools which provided us with a stunning insight into the lives of the garrison that once occupied the Fort.
The identification of a Mesolithic / early Neolithic flint scatter was an unexpected find. This could have had a significant effect on the project’s timetable but close liaison between CFA, the East Lothian Council Archaeology Service and the developers meant that the excavation of this scatter was completed within the original timescales for the work. In the end over 10,000 individual lithics were recovered.
Despite the density and complexity of the remains uncovered, the site works were successfully completed and there was no delay to the construction programme.
Please have a look at our talk at the Archaeological Research in Progress 2011 conference: ‘Headless Horsemen? Recent discoveries at Roman Inveresk’ – Dr Melanie Johnson