The publication of Addyman Archaeology’s excavations and post-excavation works relating to the construction and extensions of The Scottish Seabird Centre at Kirk Ness, North Berwick, East Lothian, draws together a complex project and wealth of material relating to this important medieval site. The archaeological works at Kirk Ness proved a successful collaboration between a supportive and interested client, the archaeologists and the project architects and contractors. The responsible execution of the project was driven by the East Lothian Council Heritage Service and Historic Scotland.
As summarised in Dr Olwyn Owen’s preface for the book, the excavations demonstrated – at last – the early medieval occupation of Kirk Ness in the form of domestic occupation and agricultural processing as early as the 5th to 6th century AD, at the time of Northumbrian penetration into East Lothian. The archaeological finds included a bone from the long-extinct great auk, butchered seal bones, and a myriad of other fascinating and more mundane insights into the daily lives of our forebears. The discovery of remains perhaps associated with the recorded 12th-century hospice for poor people and pilgrims gives evidence for the high medieval period of North Berwick and is complemented by a detailed re-interpretation of the ruined footprint of St Andrew’s Kirk. With the human remains recovered from the cemetery associated with St Andrew’s Kirk we come face to face with some of our ancestors including one unfortunate young man who was fatally stabbed four times in the back in the 12th or 13th century. Finally, the book revisits later Kirk Ness and its ever-changing uses following the demise of the old kirk, until the present day, from quarry and boatyard, to Rocket Patrol and now The Scottish Seabird Centre.
Olwyn Owen comments in her preface: “It gives me enormous pleasure to welcome this publication of the excavations at Kirk Ness 1999-2006. As is so often the case today, all of the recent archaeological work has been carried out in connection with development – in this instance, the building, landscaping and extension of the Scottish Seabird Centre. But Tom Addyman and his team have done so much more in this book than reported the results of their various recent digs. Against the background of some important new discoveries, in this volume they have brought together and re-examined all the evidence for early North Berwick – archaeological, historical, documentary, pictorial and cartographic. They have opened a fascinating window on the history of our very special town, and have explained it in an engaging and highly readable account.”
By Thomas Addyman, Kenneth Macfadyen, Tanja Romankiewicz, Alasdair Ross and Nicholas Uglow
Published by Oxbow Books, Oxford and Oakville, with very generous financial assistance from Historic Scotland, The Charles Hayward Foundation, Margaret Guido Charitable Trust, The Manifold Trust, The Catherine Mackichan Bursary Trust, The Strathmartine Trust and others.