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Parliament Archaeology Book Launched

21 May 2008

Culture Minister Linda Fabiani MSP today (Tuesday, 20 May) launched the book which reveals the archaeological and historical findings from the site of the Scottish Parliament.

The book launch was co-hosted by the Minister and the Presiding Officer, Alex Fergusson MSP, in Committee Room 1 at the Scottish Parliament. Guests included MSPs, members of the project team, and Edinburgh city councillors.

Scotland’s Parliament and the Canongate: archaeology and history, details the complex task when a team of archaeologists, historians, specialists in historic buildings and scientists - led by Historic Scotland - began, at that time, the country’s largest archaeological excavation in 1998.

The book documents the archaeological excavation and research, and the architectural and historical analysis of the site of the Parliament, and places it in its wider context in the medieval burgh of Canongate. A key part of the study was the investigation of Queensberry House – a major 17th-century urban palace on the edge of the site.

Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture Linda Fabiani MSP said: “I am delighted to launch the book today. It follows a successful 10-year journey to provide an insight to the history of the Parliament site before the archaeological information contained in it was lost.

“It is fitting for the Scottish Parliament to stand in the heart of a burgh that itself was the site of many important events in Scotland’s history, next to Holyrood Palace.  Canongate went from one of the richest settlements in Scotland in the 17th century to, in the 19th century, an industrial suburb with one of the highest levels of deprivation in Europe. Now, with the Parliament building located here, it is a vibrant part of Scotland’s future – both politically and culturally.”

The Minister added: “Public bodies have a duty to deal sensitively with the historic environment. Now, with the publication, people have the chance to see the varying elements of the Parliament’s location, understand its importance and enjoy its fantastic history.”

Gordon Barclay, Head of National Policy at Historic Scotland, who led the project and edited the book along with Anna Ritchie, said: “The decision to locate the new parliament building in the heart of the medieval burgh of Canongate, and adjacent to Scotland’s primary royal palace, provided an opportunity to explore a large proportion of an important medieval town that had lain at the centre of Scotland’s history.

“The integration of the archaeological project with the construction work was a major achievement by the archaeological contractors, Headland Archaeology and SUAT Ltd. The fieldwork and the subsequent analysis of the information retrieved have produced a rich and complex history of the site. It is a great achievement by everyone concerned.”


Notes for editors

1.Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit

2.Register for media release email alerts from If you wish to unsubscribe at any time, please email  or telephone on 0131 668 8603

3.Scotland’s Parliament and the Canongate: archaeology and history was published by The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

4.Scotland’s Parliament and the Canongate: archaeology and history is available from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, National Museums Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF  

For further information

Lisa Nicholson
Communications and Media Manager
Communications and Media
0131 668 8852 or 075000 65438