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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


IMIPERATC~OERSAI RIT. ITO. CELIO. HADKIANO ANTONINOA.U G. Pro. PATRIP. ATRIB. Although the Roman military causeway-o which some fragments still remain--from Brittano dunum to Alterva (i.e. from Dunbar ta Cramond passed close to it, the Castle rock never appear! to have become a Roman station; and it is suf ficiently curious that the military engineers of thc invaders should have neglected such a strong an( natural fortification as that steep and insulatec mass, situated as it was in Valentia, one of thei six provinces in Britain. Many relics of the Romans have been turnec up from time to time upon the site of Edinburgh but not the slightest trace has been found to indicatc that it was ever occupied by them as a dwelling place or city. Yet, Ptolemy, in his ? Geography,? speaks of the place as the Casfrum alaturtz, ??2 winged camp, or a height, flanked on each sid< by successive heights, girded with interinediatt valleys.?? Hence, the site may have been a nativt fort or hill camp of the Ottadeni. When cutting a new road over the Calton Hill, in 1817, a Roman urn was found entire; anothei (supposed to be Roman), eleven and a half inches in height, was found when digging the foundation of the north pier ol the Dean Bridge, that spans a deep ravine, through which the Water ol Leith finds its way to the neighbouring port. In 1782 a coin of the EmperoI Vespasian was found in a garden of the Pleasance, and is now in the Museum of Antiquities ; and when excavating in ROMAN URN FOUND AT THE DEAN. (Frwtn th Anfiqnanan Museum.) St. Ninian?s Row, on the western side of the Calton, in 1815, there was found a quan?tity of fine red Samian ware, of the usual embossed character. In 1822, when enlarging the drain by which the old bed of the North Loch was? kept dry, almost at the base of the Castle rock, portions of ar. ancient Roman causeway were discovered, four feet below the modem road. Another portion of a Roman way, composed of irregular rounded stones, closely rammed together on a bed of forced soil, coloured with fragments pf brick, was discovered beneath the foundations of the Trinity College Church, when it was demolished in 1845. The portions of it discovered in 1822 included a branch extending a considerable way eastward along the north back of the Canongate, towards the well-known Roman road at Portobello, popularly known as ? The Fishwives? Causeway.? ? Here,? says Dr. Wilson, ?we recover the traces of the Roman way in its course from Eildon to Cramond and Kinneil, with a diverging road to the importanttown and harbour at Inveresk, showing beyond doubt that Edinburgh had formed a Zink between these several Roman sites.?? Within a few yards of the point where this road crossed the brow of the city ridge were built into the wall of a house, nearly opposite to that of John Knox, two beautifully sculptured heads of the Emperor Septimius Severus and his wife Julia. These busts, which Maitland, in his time (I~so), says were brought from an adjacent building, Wilson the antiquary conjectures were more probably found when excavating a foundation; but under the causeway of High Street, in 1850, two silver denarii of the same emperor were found in excellent preservation. These busts were doubtless some relic of the visit paid to the colony by Septimius Severus, for Alexander Gordon, in his ? Itinerarium Septentrionale,? published in 1726, says :-? About this time it would appear that Julia, the wife of Severus, and the greatest part of the imperial family, were in the country of Caledonia; for Xephilin, from Dio, mentions a very remarkable occurrence which there happened to the Empress Julia and the wife 3f Argentocoxus, a Caledonian.?? Passing, however, from the Roman period, many listant traces have been found of people who lwelt on, or near, the site of Edinburgh, in what may be called, if the term be allowable, the preiistoric period. In constructing the new road to Leith, leading iom the centre of Bellevue Crescent, in 1823, several stone cists, of circumscribed form, wherein :he bodies had been bent double, were found; ind these being disposed nearly due east and west, were assumed, but without evidence, to have been .he remains of Christians. In 1822 another was ound in the Royal Circus, buied north and south ; he skeleton crumbled into dust on being exposed, ill save the teeth. During the following year, 1823, several mde tone coffins were discovered when digging the oundations of a house in Saxe Coburg Place, near ;t. Bernard?s Chapel. One of them contained two irns of baked clay, from which circumstance it was #upposed that this was a place of interment, at the ieriod when the Romans had penetrated thus far
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north, and theottadeni, in imitation of their practice, had adopted the cremation of their dead, yvhile adhering to their ancient form of sepulchre. Similar evidences of the occupation of the locality by an ancient people have been found all round Edinburgh. The skeleton of a woman buried in the same fashion, with head and feet together, was found on the eastern slope of Arthur's Seat in 1858, and within the cist lay the lid of a stone quern or hand-mill. Of the same early period was, perhaps, the cist which was found on the coast of the Firth, when the Edinburgh and Granton Railway was made, the skeleton in which had on it ornaments formed of tlle common cockle-shell. Some graves of a later and more civilised period were found in 1850, when the immense reservoir was excavated on the Castle Hill, on the highest ground, and in the very heart of the ancient city. On the removal of some buildings of the seventeenth century, and after uprooting some portions of the massive wall of 1450, lower down, at a depth of twenty-five feet, and entirely below the foundation of the latter, "the excavators came upon a bed of clay, and beneath this was a thick layer of moss, or decayed animal and vegetable matter, in which was found a coin of the Emperor Constantine, thus suggesting a date approximating to the beginning of the fourth century. Immediately under this were two coffins, each formed of a solid trunk of oak, measuring about six feet in length. They were rough, and unshapen externally, as when hewn down in their native forest, and appeared to have been split open ; but within they were hollowed out with considerable care, a circular space being formed for the head, and, indeed, the interior of both had considerable resemblance to what is usually seen in the stone coffins of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. They lay nearly due east and west, with their heads to the west. One of them contained a male and the other a female skeleton, unaccompanied by any weapons or other relics ; but between the two coffins the skull and antlers of a gigantic deer were found, and alongside of them a portion of another horn, artificially cut, forming, most probably, the head of the spear with which the old hunter armed himself for the chase. The discovery of such primitive relics in the very heart of a busy population, and the theatre of not a few memorable historical events, is even more calculated to awaken our interest, by the striking contrast which it presents, than when found beneath the low, sepulchral mound, or exposed by the operations of the agriculturist. An unsuccessful attempt was made to remove one of the coffins. Even the skulls were so much decayed that they went to pieces on being lifted j but the skull and horns of the deer found alongside of them are now deposited in the Scottish Museum."* Many relics and weapons of the bronze period have been discovered in and around the site of Edinburgh. Some of the most perfect and polished of these weapons are now in the Museum at Abbotsford; and about fifty pieces of swords, spear-heads, and other fragments of weapons, all more or less affected by fire, are in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, The swords are of the leafshaped form, with perforated handles, to which bone or wood has been attached, and many of the large spear-heads are pierced with a variety of ornamental designs. During the construction, in 1846, of that part of the Queen's Drive which lies directly abol-e the loch, on the southern slope of Arthur's Seat, two of the most beautiful and perfectly leafshaped swords ever found in Scotland were discovered in a bed of charcoal, and are now in the Scottish Antiquarian Museum. The blade of the largest measures 26a inches in length, and IQ inches at the broadest part. Not fa; from the same place a cup or lamp of clay and Celts of bronze were also discovered, and, at '' Samson's Ribs," a cinerary urn. On the green slopes of the same hill may be seen still the traces of ancient civilisation, in some now-forgotten mode of cultivating the soil-forgotten unless we recall the terraces of the Rhine, or the ancient parallels of the Peruvians in the Cordilleras of the Andes. " On the summer evenings, while the long shadows still linger on the eastern slope of Arthur's Seat, it is seen to rise from the margin of Duddhgston Loch to the higher valley in a succession of terrace-steps, in some cases with indications of retaining walls still discoverable. It is on the slope thus furrowed with the traces of a long extinct system of agriculture that the bronze swords and Celts, and the ancient pottery already described, have been dug up; while wrought deers' horns, weapons, and masses of melted bronze, were dredged from the neighbouring loch in such quantities as to suggest that qt some remote age weapons of the Scottish bronze period had been extensively manufactured on the margin. Following up the connection between such evidences of ancient art and agriculture, Mr. Chambers suggests the probability that the daisses of Arthur's Seat and the bronze weapons dug up there qr dredged from the loch are all works of the same ingenious handi- " Rc-hisMric Annals of scotknd"
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