Dig uncovers nobleman's grave

The remains of a medieval nobleman are among dozens of discoveries made in an archaeological dig at the University.

Also found at the site were the remains of a 13th-century monastery.

The discoveries were made at the construction site of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, which will be housed in refurbished buildings at the University’s High School Yards.


Archaeologists talk about the history of the site and the discovery of the nobleman's grave.

Elaborate headstone

Archaeologists spotted the discovery when they uncovered the corner of an elaborately decorated sandstone slab.

They found that the slab, which covers the grave, bore tell-tale carved markings of a member of the nobility, including a sword and a cross.

Experts say they will be able to find out much more about the individual buried in the tomb once they are able to remove the headstone and access the remains underneath.

They have been able to date the remains because of the grave’s position on the site of the monastery, and its similarity to other gravestones found from that period.

Analysis of any skeletal remains or teeth would give information on where the individual was born, what he ate, where he lived and how he died.

Sustainable property

Building teams made the find at the site of a former car park which is being prepared to host a rainwater harvesting tank, as part of construction work on property that will house the new centre.

Designers hope the project will create the world’s most sustainable historical building. Malcolm Fraser Architects have led the project with contractors Graham Construction, with services provided by Headland Archaeology.

Formerly, the location was the site of the seventeenth century Royal High School, the sixteenth century Old High School, and the thirteenth century Blackfriars Monastery.

As well as the Knight’s grave, the excavation of the area has revealed for the first time the exact location of the Blackfriars Monastery, which was founded in 1230 and destroyed during the Protestant Reformation in 1558.

Low-carbon economy

The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) is hosted by the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh Napier University.

It seeks to bring together students, academics, governments, businesses and communities to work towards a low-carbon future and is a hub for the knowledge, innovation and skills required to create a low-carbon economy.

The refurbished building, which dates back to back to the Royal High School of 1777, will reopen as an innovation and skills hub in summer 2013.

Ross Murray, the archeologist who found the grave, studied at the University’s former Archaeology building, just a few feet from where the grave was found.

If the University hadn’t had such vision to create a sustainable building then this discovery might never have been made.
Dr Andy KerrDirector, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation