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The capsule was found when the Robert Burns statue on the junction of Bernard Street, Baltic Street and Constitution Street was temporarily removed to make way for the extension of the city’s tram line.
Believed to have been buried beneath the statue when it was erected in 1898, the container of 19th century artefacts was found under a lead sheet in a purpose-carved socket in the plinth of the statue.
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On opening it, conservators learned the capsule had previously been opened and resealed in 1961. It also contained a members list, rules and the constitution of the Leith Burns Club, newspapers and coins of the day, information on the statue itself, and a Burns' poem.
Newspapers from 1961, including both the Scotsman and the Edinburgh Evening News, were also in the capsule confirming it had been discovered and opened when the statue was moved in the Sixties.
Speaking in 2019, John Lawson, Edinburgh City Council Archaeologist, said, “We didn’t know what we were going to find, it’s been a complete mystery to us. It could have been absolutely nothing and empty, or, as it’s turned out to be, a really exciting discovery where we’ve got messages from 1898 and from 1961, so we’ve got the voices from two different communities.”
Two years on from its most recent discovery, plans are now underway to reinstate the 1898 capsule alongside a one modelled on the original by conservationist Nic Boyes.
The contents of the 2021 capsule will include a signed copy of Jemma Neville’s book, Constitution Street, including a personal note, A New Poem, written by Professor Alan Spence the Edinburgh Makar and Poet Laureate of Edinburgh from 2017 to 2021 and, from Edinburgh North East Police, a letter from the Local Area Commander CI Tait, a copy of the Police Scotland Annual Report and a hat badge.
The new capsule will also hold poems and stories written by pupils from Victoria Primary Schools' P7 classes, a letter from the Edinburgh Burns Club, local and national newspapers from the day of sealing and a mix of coins from 2020 and 2021.
Completing the enclosed artefacts will be a Trams to Newhaven newsletter, letters from leader of the Council Adam McVey and Hannah Ross, Senior Responsible Officer on the Trams to Newhaven Project, a pen drive about the Trams to Newhaven Project, pictures of local business owners as well as pictures and vlogs on the discovery and opening of the 1898 capsule and sealing of the 2021 capsule.
In keeping with the times, a face mask will also be included.
Councillor Karen Doran, Transport and Environment Vice Convener, says, “The project team, along with contractors, have worked really hard to make sure the historic elements of the area are preserved and to maintain its unique character as works progress.
"These time capsules, created more than 100 years apart, are a great way to capture a snapshot in time of Leith.”
Both capsules will reburied later this month.