Figure 24: Excavation of the Leamington Scow on the Union canal in Edinburgh. An indication of how rare and unexpected discoveries through developer-funded work can contribute to cross-sector research opportunities and the capability in dealing with important archaeological discoveries within commercial constraints, ©Headland Archaeology.
Archaeological investigations were carried out at Leamington Wharf on the Union Canal in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. The remains of a stone quay, wooden platforms and staging, a ropewalk and a canal vessel were investigated prior to redevelopment of the site for housing. The combination of archaeological excavation and historical research illuminated the development of this former canal basin at the terminus of the Union Canal. and provided a rare opportunity to study the remains of a canal vessel likely to date from the early to mid 19th century.
The investigation of the historic quay structures and buildings enabled a much better understanding of the nature of Leamington Wharf and the development of part of the busy terminus of the Union Canal in Edinburgh from the early 19th century until the beginnings of decline in its latter years. The investigations also increased our understanding of the subsequent changes in the function of the basin into the 20th century and the changing fortunes of the canal. from essentially a commercial use to one of a recreational nature.
The unexpected discovery of the remains of the wooden canal vessel in particular provided a hitherto rare and valuable insight into the nature and characteristics of an early to mid 19th century canal vessel operating on the Scottish Canals. The results of the investigations have made it possible to suggest the age, type and possible provenance of the vessel thus revealing an understudied and little known resource in connection with boatbuilding on the Scottish Canals. A scale model of the canal vessel was created as part of the project, developed from the archaeological evidence and the use of state of the art modelling software. The model will be submitted to the local museum service as a record demonstrating a distinct and wide-ranging research potential for further study.
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