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Digging the Dirt at Miralles' Holyrood

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May 21 2008

A book which reveals the archaeological and historical findings from the site of the Scottish Parliament was launched publicly yesterday (Tuesday) by Culture Minister Linda Fabiani and Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson.

Scotland’s Parliament and the Canongate: archaeology and history, documents the archaeological excavation and research, and the architectural and historical analysis of the site of the Parliament. The archaeological excavation was the largest undertaken in Scotland when it began in 1998.  A key part of the study was the investigation of Queensberry House – a major 17th-century urban palace on the edge of the site.

“It is fitting for the Scottish Parliament to stand in the heart of a burgh that itself was the site of many important events in Scotland’s history, next to Holyrood Palace," Fabiani said.

"Canongate went from one of the richest settlements in Scotland in the 17th century to, in the 19th century, an industrial suburb with one of the highest levels of deprivation in Europe. Now, with the Parliament building located here, it is a vibrant part of Scotland’s future – both politically and culturally.”

Gordon Barclay, Head of National Policy at Historic Scotland, who led the project and edited the book along with Anna Ritchie, said: “The decision to locate the new parliament building in the heart of the medieval burgh of Canongate, and adjacent to Scotland’s primary royal palace, provided an opportunity to explore a large proportion of an important medieval town that had lain at the centre of Scotland’s history.

“The integration of the archaeological project with the construction work was a major achievement by the archaeological contractors, Headland Archaeology and SUAT Ltd. The fieldwork and the subsequent analysis of the information retrieved have produced a rich and complex history of the site. It is a great achievement by everyone concerned.”

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