And finally… Burials discovered in Edinburgh playground

Archaeologist Megan Stoakley with Amelia Soffe from P1 and Louise Doyle from P6
Archaeologist Megan Stoakley with Amelia Soffe from P1 and Louise Doyle from P6

Further evidence of human remains thought to date back to the 17th Century or earlier have been unearthed by archaeologists in an Edinburgh playground.

The outlines of at least nine coffins have been identified in the grounds of St Mary’s Primary School in Leith as part of an excavation by Morrison Construction in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council.

The findings follow the discovery on an individual skeleton over the Easter break while investigative works took place for a new classroom building.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The new information coming from the site is proving to be even more significant than previously thought.

“The school community has been very interested in the excavation and the findings. The children have been eager to learn about the new discoveries and as the excavation continues, we’ll find out more about the former inhabitants of Leith.”

John Lawson, City of Edinburgh Council Archaeologist, added: “Leith and the surrounding area has a rich archaeological history. These excavations have unearthed what appears to be a complex cemetery thought to date from the 15th to the 17th centuries, containing at least nine graves including adults and young children buried in coffins.

“The discoveries of these burials in this location, although always a possibility, is nevertheless a surprise. Further excavations will reveal more evidence which will allow us to accurately date these burials and how they relate to the history of Leith.”

The area containing the remains has been fenced off but the school remains open. The new classrooms will still be built but will no longer open in time for the new school term due to further necessary archaeological analysis, expected to last until the end of June. All existing and new pupils will be accommodated.

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