Are some Edinburgh residents living over a hidden Roman Camp?

The City of Edinburgh Council and Archaeology Scotland are teaming up to call on residents to help them find a Roman camp that may be buried under gardens in the Comiston/Fairmilehead area.

In a one off dig weekend event on Friday 30 August, residents are being asked to get out their trowels to see if they can find any evidence of a Roman camp – which was noticed by the city’s archaeologists on a 250-year old map of Edinburgh.

The map shows an enclosure across the main road somewhere between Fairmilehead and Buckstone. It may even be an enclosure from millennia before the Romans even arrived in Britain.

The more recent Ordnance Survey maps indicate a possible Roman camp in the nearby Caiystane area but it is possible that there was an older enclosure of prehistoric origin that the early map makers interpreted as Roman.

Archaeology Scotland, a key centre for community archaeology, is keen to help solve this mystery but with several houses built over the potential sites, the charity needs residents to do some of the vital work in what could prove to be a hugely significant find for Edinburgh and Scotland’s history.

Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s Culture and Sport Convener, said: “This is a unique opportunity for local people in the Fairmilehead and Buckstone area to get involved in archaeology and perhaps make that all important discovery that would rewrite the history of Edinburgh. I’d encourage everyone to dig out their trowels and sign up to take part next month.”

Archaeology Scotland is asking homeowners in the area if they would like to take part in a Big Garden Dig. By excavating one metre square (1m2) test pits in gardens they would hope to uncover enough artefacts to prove or disprove the existence of the Roman Camp and see just how old the enclosure might be.

Eila Macqueen, Director of Archaeology Scotland, said “This is a fantastic chance for local people to help with a real mystery and possibly add a new chapter to Roman history in Edinburgh and it will be great fun for all the community to see just what turns up.”

More than 20 people have already signed up to become involved but Archaeology Scotland will need many more if the project is going to be successful.

With assistance from professional archaeologists, Archaeology Scotland will give homeowners training on how to conduct an excavation and will be on hand during the dig with advice and expertise.

If you live in the Buckstone/Comiston/Fairmilehead/Caiystane area and would like to become involved drop an email to sam@archaeologyscotland.org.uk or telephone 0845 872 3333. Even you are unable to dig the test pit yourself we can bring in trained field archaeologists to do it for you. Or if you want to help with other tasks we will need volunteers to act as runners and to help clean up and label the finds.

The dig weekend will start on Friday 30th August but volunteers should register their interest now.

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