Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Graves found in Edinburgh school playground dig

Forensic archaeologist Megan Stoakley with P1 Amelia and P6 Louise Image copyright City of Edinburgh Council
Image caption Forensic archaeologist Megan Stoakley with P1 Amelia and P6 Louise

Graves of children and adults dating back at least 400 years have been discovered in an Edinburgh school playground.

The human remains were unearthed by archaeologists after a skeleton was discovered during investigative works for a new classroom.

The outlines of at least nine coffins were found in the grounds of St Mary's Primary School in Leith.

Experts said it was evidence of Leith's "rich archaeological history".

Former inhabitants

Richard Lewis, City of Edinburgh Council's culture convener, said: "The new information coming from the site is proving to be even more significant than previously thought.

"The school community has been very interested in the excavation and the findings. The children have been eager to learn about the new discoveries and as the excavation continues, we'll find out more about the former inhabitants of Leith."

John Lawson, City of Edinburgh Council archaeologist, added: "Leith and the surrounding area has a rich archaeological history.

"These excavations have unearthed what appears to be a complex cemetery thought to date from the 15th to the 17th centuries, containing at least nine graves including adults and young children buried in coffins.

"The discoveries of these burials in this location, although always a possibility, is nevertheless a surprise. Further excavations will reveal more evidence which will allow us to accurately date these burials and how they relate to the history of Leith."

The area containing the remains has been fenced off but the school remains open.

The new classrooms will still be built but will no longer open in time for the new school term due to further archaeological work, expected to last until the end of June.

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