In the next few weeks the site which was once home to the Botanic Cottage and one of the remaining fragments of the long lost Leith Walk Botanic Garden, will soon be built over. Before the construction teams move in, archaeologists need to review the whole site. Building on work undertaken last summer, a team from Addyman Archaeology is currently excavating the site. They have stripped the area back to the original level of the garden, revealing the rich, dark soil which was once filled with plants during the late 18th and early 19th century.
They have already made some new discoveries: part of an original garden path, thought to be one of the ones features in a plan of the garden from the 1770s (top left image shows the sandy layer which made up the path), a formal bed (middle left image) which is currenly being investigated, the base of a plinth (bottom left) which might at one time have featured a statue or sundial but which had later had a hole cut into the centre and been used as part of a drain, and some beautiful and colourful tiles from a fireplace (right) from a Victorian building which would have been constructed within the decades after the botanic garden had left the site (after 1823).
It is wonderful that we are still finding out new things about this long lost garden – some of which confirm what we thought to be the case, and others which shed new light or raise questions. Addyman Archaeology will be coming to speak to Friends of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in late March, telling them about all of the digs which they have undertaken on the old Leith Walk site.