Ancient artefacts will ‘transform life in Drylaw’

Posted on 01/04/2014 by


standing stones

Archaeological dig unearths ‘treasures’ at heart of housing estate

World Heritage Site status following Drylaw discovery?

The ring of Brodgar, the standing stones of Callanish, Stonehenge – these world famous ancient sites have aroused wonder and speculation for centuries. Why were they built? Were they religious temples, astronomical navigation sites, burial grounds or even fantastic art creations by intelligent creatures from another world?

Channel Four’s ‘Time Team’ believe they may have unearthed some answers following an archaeological dig in North Edinburgh.

Late last year, scientists were alerted to some unusual ground activity following a prolonged period of torrential rain in the Drylaw housing estate in North Edinburgh.

Historic Scotland’s Barnaby Welton-Trowell explained: “The heavy rain had washed away layers of topsoil on a small roundabout, revealing a primitive stone circle which we believe may be thousands of years old. It’s a remarkable find, and it appears that the stone structure was built as a repository for important relics that span the ages. Drylaw’s standing stones will undoubtedly become as well known as any of the world’s most famous sites”.

A preliminary examination unearthed some fascinating artefacts.


Mr Welton-Trowell continued: “We first came upon ancient plans for a tram network, which we believe could date back to Roman times. Etched on a stone tablet, they were drafted by a man called David the Begg – we are currently researching him and believe he may have been one of a group of wise seers who once lived in the Lothians. The Begg’s blueprint even included a cost – five magic beans, which must be around £25 billion in today’s money – so you can see that transport and infrastructure schemes were just as expensive way back in antiquity. However the stone tablet was only the beginning – you can imagine our excitement as we had literally only really scratched the surface. What other treasures could we find?”

The stone tablet – an early forerunner of today’s hi-tech iPad – was sent for carbon dating, but Channel Four’s Time Team got wind of the discovery and rushed to Edinburgh. Now working with Historic Scotland and the local city council, the TV archaeologists have already made some startling discoveries on the Drylaw dig – and expect many more.


Tony ‘Baldrick’ Robinson (pictured above) said: “We are always amazed at the things our investigations can throw up and our Edinburgh visit has been particularly rewarding. Among the artefacts unearthed so far are an antiquated scrap of parchment which we believe may be Saxon or even earlier – clearly it is very difficult to decipher the hieroglyphics on the ancient manuscript, but one of our experts believes it may refer to the victory of ancient Hibernians in a battle in the West, where they won a momentous victory at something called the Scottish Cup. It is clearly very old and may well be very significant – it was always believed that this was the stuff of legend, a fairy tale, but it may actually have really happened after all”.


A tray of modern-day bridies

Also discovered was a fossilised piece of foodstuff. Tony Baldrick continued: “We had always imagined our forefathers were farmers, living on a fairly basic diet of grain and vegetables. However we have dug up what we believe may be an early Pictish bridie. If it really is – and we are very hopeful, as it was placed in a Gregg’s bag, perhaps as part of a religious ceremony as an offering to the gods – we may have to rethink the diets of our ancestors. Perhaps the pie, bridie and sausage roll were just as popular with the Stone Age Scot as they remain today. Carbon dating will reveal all – it will certainly give the scientists something to get their teeth into!”

VisitScotland senior marketing executive Ruaridh Culloden said the find offers a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ for the area. He said: “After a series of top level brainstorm and focus group sessions our team has come up with some wonderful ideas to really put the site on the tourist map.

RING of Brodgar: 'No Drylaw'

RING of Brodgar: ‘No Drylaw’

“We’ve yet to visit the site, but we would envisage a Visitor Centre – probably on the site of one of the local pubs, either the Dew Pot or the Furry Boat, and a gift shop on the site of the current Drylaw church. We’d also like to flatten Drylaw Neighbourhood Centre and use the space to develop a fun theme park there.

Mr Culloden added: “It’s also very important that the Standing Stones are easily accessible so we would like to establish a big coach and car park where Ferryhill School is currently located, perhaps with any overspill directed to Easter Drylaw Park, where was also plan to build a hotel. So as you can see, we’re certainly not short of great ideas on how we can build on Drylaw’s heritage – quite literally”.

A spokesperson for Drylaw Telford Community Council said: “The interest generated has been amazing – we’ve had communications and inquiries from as far away as Trinity and Cramond. The roundabout was really just a bit of an eyesore, to be honest, so the events of recent weeks have taken us all completely by surprise. The stones have certainly put Drylaw on the map and it seems that our neighbourhood is going to be transformed. It’s simply unbelievable.”


CALLANISH: ‘Drylaw’s stanes are better’