Excavation Open Day reveals traces of Portobello's industrial past

An open day of excavations this weekend (Saturday 24 February 10am-3pm) will provide an opportunity for people to catch a glimpse of Portobello in Edinburgh’s industrial past.

Evidence relating to the 19th and 20th century production of bottles and bricks has been revealed during excavations by AOC Archaeology Group in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council and Barratt Homes. This work is being undertaken in advance of development by Barratt at their site at Baileyfield Crescent, Edinburgh.

As well as structural remains such as brick and bottle kilns, many artefacts have been recovered including complete examples of just some of the products made in Portobello during its industrial heyday. The site forms part of the historic core for Portobello’s nationally significant Industrial Potteries dating from the mid-18th century until the second half of the 20th century and centred upon Figgate (Braid) Burn.

Archaeological remains and deposits relating to the Abercorn Brick Works and Baileyfield Glass works, and deep deposits of pottery waste dumps, have been uncovered. Such material provides a wealth of information that will help to further the city’s understanding of the history and product development associated with these important industries at Portobello.

Visitors are invited to come and meet the archaeologists and see what has been found so far.Paper mill Porty 1905

Jason Watt, Technical Director, Barratt Homes East Scotland said: “From its time as an industrial hub to its role as Edinburgh’s beach resort, Portobello has a varied past and the findings already uncovered as part of our preparatory work on the Baileyfield site are fascinating. We are very excited to be working with the City of Edinburgh Council to showcase the archaeological building remains discovered on the site at the excavation open day. We look forward to welcoming people along and we will be on hand to answer questions about the findings and their connection with the area’s local history.”

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “This is a great opportunity for members of the community to learn more about this important excavation and see what the archaeologists have uncovered. The dig is already providing brand new evidence about the industrial heritage of Portobello, which was once a thriving site for glass works, brick and tile making. Why not make a day of it in Portobello and pop along to see the archaeologists at work?”

Rob Engl, project manager for AOC Archaeology Group, said: “We’re delighted to be investigating substantial evidence relating to Portobello’s industries, and the open day represents a great opportunity to share this with a wider audience”.  

Access to the site is via Baileyfield Crescent. Visitors are most welcome on Saturday 24th February, 10am-3pm.

[Pictured: Workers take a short break to pose for a photo in Portobello's Paper Mill, Circa 1905. Credit: Courtesy of Capital Collections]

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