GUARD Archaeologists have begun excavations outside South Leith Parish Church, where previous investigations have shown that in the medieval period the church’s graveyard extended under the modern road with graves surviving beneath the current road surface.
The excavation of human remains, which could date back as far as 1300 has begun on Constitution Street, as part of the Trams to Newhaven project.
The team are removing any human remains that are likely to be affected by the tram works, and have so far exhumed more than ten bodies, which may date from between 1300 and 1650.
After the excavation the remains will be subject to detailed examination and analysis by GUARD Osteoarchaeologists that will reveal information on the health, diseases and diet of the people of medieval Leith.
‘The construction works to bring the Edinburgh tram to Newhaven has offered an opportunity to shed some light on centuries of history here in Leith,’ said Bob Will of GUARD Archaeology. ‘It’s crucial that we excavate the human remains found here in advance of construction and we have provided a large team of GUARD Archaeologists to carry out this painstaking job. What’s more, further examination of the excavated graves will give us an invaluable glimpse into the lives of Leithers past.’
Over the last few weeks, we have been preparing for the safe restoration of our full archaeological services, particularly archaeological fieldwork such as watching briefs, evaluations and excavations. We are pleased to state that we have now restored archaeological teams of GUARD Archaeologists at a number of sites that had been closed during the lockdown. We have also begun to provide archaeologists for new sites.
GUARD Archaeology Ltd takes the COVID-19 Pandemic very seriously and is naturally concerned about its potential impact on staff and members of the public we come into contact with. For this reason, and crucial for the restoration of our archaeological field services, we have prepared a Safe System of Work that follows Scottish Government advice as well as that from the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and Prospect.
Under this system, no sites will resume operations until Senior management has signed off the updated Risk Assessment Method Statement for that site to demonstrate that the relevant measures are in place. Each member of staff has a legal duty under Health and Safety legislation to observe these rules. And we work closely with our clients to ensure that our safe system of working adheres to their own measures.
All staff whether on site or in our offices follow up-to-date advice from the Scottish Government. Our Safe System of Work covers appropriate measures for social distancing, PPE, cleaning and disinfection, use of site welfare facilities, travel, overnight accommodation, emergency procedures, mental health, cover arrangements and contact tracing. Furthermore, our Safe System of Work will be updated and amended in line with COVID-19 measures from the Scottish Government, in line with the phased route map for moving out of lockdown.
If you require any of our services, then please do not hesitate to contact us.
We hope you keep well and look forward to working with you
again in the future.
As the Trams to Newhaven construction work resumes in Edinburgh during the phased moving out of lockdown, we consider the assortment of artefacts GUARD Archaeologists unearthed during works earlier this year.
A radius and ulna (part of the fin) of a large adult male sperm whale were found on Constitution Street. The bones have yet to be carbon dated (this has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic), but this may help shed light on Leith’s historic whaling industry.
A small Iron cannonball found in Constitution Street may date back to the seventeenth century – it is of a type used around the time of the Civil Wars when Leith was refortified.
Excavations between Bernard St and Tower Street have revealed important evidence relating to the reclamation of the area, including a large system of nineteenth century interlinked brick and stone box drains,eighteenth century walls and a possible slipway. Evidence of seventeenth century clay pipes also indicates that the reclamation of the area could have occurred earlier than first thought.
Prior to lockdown the heavily truncated remains of a large stone wall were discovered running east to west under the Junction of Bernard Street and Constitution Street. This may be part of the seawall for the sixteenth and seventeenth century town fortifications – the team will be investigating this when the project restarts.
“The Trams project will allow us to discover more about the history and development of Leith from the medieval period to the modern day,” said Bob Will of GUARD Archaeology Ltd, who is managing the archaeological works.
began on Constitution Street in November 2019 was stopped at the end of March,
along with the wider project, to comply with Government guidance and to protect
the safety of workers and residents during the coronavirus outbreak.
During the first phase, the team also took down part of a wall surrounding Constitution Street Graveyard, dating back to 1790, ahead of the graveyard’s wider excavation later this year. During preparatory work to recover any human remains, GUARD Archaeologists discovered what appears to be a large charnel pit which may contain the remains of some burials recovered from the laying of nineteenth century services in Constitution Street. This will be further investigated when works recommence.
In line with Scottish Government guidance, construction resumed on existing sites on Lindsay Road, Melrose Drive and Constitution Street, this week, along with preparatory works on Leith Walk. Main construction works on Leith Walk from Elm Row to Crown Place will start on Monday 22 June. All works, including archaeological investigations, will be
carried out while maintaining physical distancing and with additional measures
to protect workers’ and the public’s health in place.
Due to the unprecedented situation, and adhering to the UK
and Scottish Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have decided to
temporarily shut down all our fieldwork operations for the foreseeable future.
While this is by no means an easy decision to take, at the
heart of our company is the ethos that archaeology is a public benefit.
That it is good for people. This same ethos lies behind our decision to temporarily
shut down all our fieldwork operations and our offices.
As our governments have stated, the single most important
action we can take is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save
lives. When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we reduce the spread
This does not mean, however, that we cannot provide all our archaeological services.
Over the last couple of weeks, we have been preparing for
such a situation where our staff are required to work from home. This means
that GUARD Archaeology are still operating desk-based services should you
require any support over the period of quarantine.
These services include:
Environmental Impact Assessments
Written Schemes of Investigation
If you require any of these services, then please do not
hesitate to contact us.
We hope you keep well and look forward to working with you
again in the future.
GUARD Archaeology Limited is the latest business in Scotland to become employee-owned, with 32 permanent members of staff given a stake in the business.
Formerly part of Glasgow University, GUARD Archaeology started trading as an independent company in January 2011, owned by eleven employee shareholders. The majority shareholders wanted to plan for their eventual exit by considering succession options early. They were looking for a solution that would allow them to step back but at the same time create an equitable and sustainable structure for the company going forward.
Commenting, John Atkinson, director at GUARD
Archaeology, said: “The matter of succession had originally been in the back of
our minds as something we would need to consider eventually, however, when we
started exploring employee ownership as a potential solution, we were so sold
on the benefits that we decided to make the transition sooner rather than
Ronan Toolis, director at GUARD Archaeology, added: “The transition to an Employee Ownership Trust strengthens the long-term future of our company, and by retaining employee ownership we are maintaining the original ethos of the company.”
GUARD Archaeology was owned by several shareholders who all worked in the business, so it was important to staff that the company wasn’t sold to a single buyer or that control of the company was moved out of Scotland where the bulk of GUARD Archaeology’s work is undertaken. Employee ownership is an excellent business model which benefits everyone. The previous majority shareholders will continue with their day to day roles in the business for as long as is required, with the knowledge that the future is taken care of, while the rest of the employees are given a stake in the business and a role in how it is run. This will hopefully increase job satisfaction and productivity whilst ensuring That GUARD Archaeology continues to deliver a high quality service.
John Atkinson continued: “Protecting jobs was
also an extremely important factor in our decision. Many employees have been
with the business for a long time and have played a vital role in its success.
Moving into employee ownership gives the opportunity for job security to
everyone who works here and enables them to have collective control of their
future. The staff are very excited about
the opportunities it will bring for the future growth of the business.”
An Employee Ownership Trust has been formed
and holds 100% of the shares on behalf of the employees. The transition to employee ownership was supported by
Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), with the process managed by 4-consulting,
legal services by Blackadders LLP, and accountancy services by RJ
Head of Co-operative Development Scotland,
Clare Alexander, added: “The majority shareholders wanted a solution that would
enable them to manage their succession long term, whilst ensuring that jobs
were rooted in the local area and the original ethos of the company was
retained. The move to employee ownership solves these issues, while bringing a
host of additional benefits for all parties in the deal.”
demonstrate that employee-owned businesses consistently outperform their non EO
counterparts in terms of higher levels of profitability, increased productivity
brought about by higher levels of engagement and enhanced employee wellbeing,
as well as improved business resilience during times of recession. Within
Scotland, there are now around 110 employee-owned companies operating, with
approximately 7,500 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of
around £950 million.