Roman find hits bank’s HQ work
CONSTRUCTION work on a new multi-million pound world headquarters for the Royal Bank of Scotland faces a possible delay while archaeologists investigate Roman remains found near the site.
The bank had applied to city planners for permission to start clearing the 80-acre area earmarked for building work on the site of the former Gogarburn Hospital.
But an archaeological survey of the area has revealed the remains of at least two temporary Roman camps nearby that experts say need to be investigated further.
The area is close to the former prehistoric Gogar Loch and is also known to contain evidence of ancient burial grounds.
Some remains found at the site have already been dated back to Neolithic Scotland, which ranges from 4000BC to 2500BC.
The bank had hoped to start construction work later this year, with staff expected to move into the new complex by 2006, but that date may be pushed back if archaeologists come across any other major finds.
In a report to city planners, Alan Henderson, head of planning and strategy, explained that work was vital to "safeguard the interest of archaeological heritage".
A brief survey of the site has already been carried out by city firm Headland Archaeology at the request of the bank and it has recommended that three small areas should be investigated further.
Experts have noted that people have lived in and around the Edinburgh area for more than 9000 years and say that a lot of evidence may still lie uncovered.
Headland archaeologists last worked on the discovery of an ancient chariot at Newbridge in January 2001 and say the land at Gogar is steeped in history.
Stephen Carter, spokesman for the firm, said: "The Newbridge chariot is an example of what can turn up and that’s why it is always best to fully investigate these areas.
"We have been down at the Royal Bank site and haven’t found anything yet, but there are a few more areas that still need checked. We won’t know what could be there until we look ."
A Royal Bank spokesman explained: "The Roman remains are between our site and the city bypass, but it was thought that other artefacts could lie under the land we are looking to develop.
"We called in a specialist team to survey the site and they have pointed out three other areas that we should have investigated as a matter of precaution. They are not expecting to find anything really, but it is best to have this all done before we start building rather than have us come across any nasty surprises further down the line."
He added: "It shouldn’t put our schedule back any unless anything startling comes to light.
"We are hoping this archaeological work can be done alongside the clearing of the site in preparation for construction."
Bob Cairns, Edinburgh’s planning leader, said the Gogarburn site was well-known for its prehistoric past.
He said: "Archaeological investigations are a fairly standard condition for this area of the city which we know has a lot of monuments and history attached to it.
"Finding these sites is what takes a while. Once found, investigations can be carried out fairly quickly unless something else startling comes to light. It is just a case of being quite careful before any clearing work can begin on the site."
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