Skeletons halt work on clinic
28 October 2010
28 October 2010
IT IS a major public sector building project which has been delayed, causing headaches for bosses and the public.
• The discoveries, among the most impressive made in Scotland, include several sets of human remains from the Roman era as well as 5000-year-old tools
But it is decapitated skeletons and 2000-year-old forts rather than red tape and swelling costs that have caused the hold-up for the new health centre in Musselburgh.
Progress on the site has been delayed by at least six months after significant Roman remains were discovered.
Now architects have revealed the extent of their discoveries, which include human remains, the bones of horses and weapons and culinary tools.
Archeologists there said the "unique" finds, among the most impressive ever discovered in Scotland from that period, will help build a picture not only of Roman activity in Musselburgh from 140AD, but improve the wider understanding of life at that time.
As well as the skeletons, some of which have been superbly preserved, there are impressive sections of rampart, thought to be part of a defensive wall for a fortlet.
Site director for CFA Archaeology, which is working on the site, Magnus Kirby said that some of the findings predated the Roman era, with items such as flints possibly dating back up to 5000 years.
"The number of Roman skeletons we have found doesn't point to this being a cemetery," he said. "But it is still fascinating. The Roman remains have been very well preserved.
"Of the older human remains that predate that, in some cases there has been nothing but a set of teeth."
It was known before the excavation began that Romans had existed in that area but the number of discoveries since work began three months ago has surprised archaeologists.
LIVE AND LET LIVE
It is thought the Votadini tribe inhabited the Lothians during the late Iron Age period, around the time of the birth of Christ. They built hill fort defences which are still visible on Arthur's Seat, at Dunsapie Hill and above Samson's Ribs.
Historians believe they also occupied Traprain Law in East Lothian.
The Roman occupation of the Lothians soon after the turn of the millennium is said to have left both physical landmarks and governance legacies.
As well as forts, artefacts found across the Lothians point to an active trading set-up with locals and experts believe the Roman's stay in the Lothians helped convert Scotland to Christianity, and establish the early roots of our legal system.
"The quality of the structures such as the rampart are fantastic," Mr Kirby added.
"You do treat the human remains differently, because of what they are, but it is the structures you find that tell you more about life at that point."
Although the finds are interesting, the Roman revelations have actually proved a significant inconvenience for NHS Lothian, which wants to crack on with the Musselburgh Primary Care Centre.
The £20 million facility, which was first mooted 15 years ago, is now due to open in the spring of 2012.