We were contracted to maintain a watching brief during a strip-out of the commercial buildings at 10-15 Princes Street in advance of conversion into a hotel and retail development.
Preliminary research showed the site was first occupied by three early townhouses erected during the development of the first Edinburgh New Town, the first built in 1769. These structures subsequently went through a series of redevelopments and were ultimately replaced by the existing commercial premises in the 1920s.
The particular concern relating to the redevelopment was the evident survival of elements of the early structures to the rear of the site, parts of these visible externally from the street. It was also clear that early cellarage survived below the existing pavement level along the south and east sides of the existing building (below Princes Street and West Register Lane). These cellars were interpreted as fragmentary remnants of the original 18th century houses on the site.
A watching brief was maintained during all ground breaking works associated with the project, during which an impressively constructed well was recorded. This was noted as having sat in the location of a courtyard associated with the first New Town townhouse constructed on the site.
During the watching brief we worked in close consultation with the client to ensure our presence on site was kept to an absolute minimum while still fulfilling the archaeological condition.