As the dust settles on a very successful Waggonway Big Dig, it's time to reflect on some of the highlights of the 10 day excavation and also to look ahead to the future of the Waggonway Project and where we go from here ..
There have been so many highlights of the dig - including members of the community having the chance to dig, the first salt made in Cockenzie for a very long time, visits from our local schools and some incredible small finds (clay pipes, a salt sampling scoop, a pony horseshoe, an 18th century tea bowl).
But the part that tops it all has to be the quality of the archaeology uncovered at Cockenzie Harbour which, it must be noted, has been in constant use ever since Hew Francis Cadell employed Robert Stevenson (of lighthouse building fame) to expand and improve the quayside in 1835. And it was precisely that construction work which we uncovered at the start of September!
It is quite incredible that in the intervening 182 years, that so much has survived - aside from the stunning stone quayside, a staggeringly large amount of a salt pan house survives alongside many well preserved in situ sleeper blocks, with the cherry on top being the surviving remains of one of the turntable areas used to diver waggons along different quayside sidings.
Much more than we could have hoped for ...
So, what next?
Now that the dust has settled a little, work will start on producing the Data Structure Report (a requirement of any archaeological dig) and pulling together all of our new information into a manageable exhibit which we hope will be able to find a home at Cockenzie House & Gardens, who hosted us during the Big Dig.
We will also contribute to the plans for the regeneration of Cockenzie Harbour as part of the ELC / HES Cockenzie CARS project - the archaeology just completed was the first stage in the regeneration process and we confidently anticipate that the historic quayside will recieve the attention it needs to be restored to its former glory.
There are a number of other activities which we will be engaging in over the winter - more research, some more tidying up at Cockenzie Habour (and further up the waggonway route), a little more salt making in the autumn perhaps, and a series of presentations / talks which groups have booked with us - we look forward to all of this.
We'd of course encourage everyone to consider joining the 1722 Waggonway Heritage Group - it's only £12 per year and is a great way of supporting us going forward, and there will be opportunities to get involved in our various projects. Download a form via the website ...
But lastly, the question everyone is asking ... will we do it again next year?
Well, it all depends if there's something which we can dig ... watch this space!