How Edinburgh reacted to ancient discoveries unearthed on new Virgin Hotel site

A human skull, a drinking vessel, shoes, jewellery, tools and knives, along with a ball used in a giant catapult and an early cannonball were just some of things found buried underground in Edinburgh city centre recently.

Monday, 1st July 2019, 8:57 am
The groundworks have begun on the site of the new Virgin Hotel. PIC: John Savage
The groundworks have begun on the site of the new Virgin Hotel. PIC: John Savage

Remains of buildings dating as far back as the tenth century pre-date Edinburgh Castle and the creation of the town burgh by David I by about 200 years, while the work on the new Virgin Hotel in Cowgate has unearthed ditches and walls marking the original boundary of the city.

Here are some of the best responses from Edinburgh Evening News readers:

Amazing to think it predates the castle! Possibly going back to the Bronze Age! Our wonderful city is steeped rich in history, there’s a lot to be learned from that site so why can’t Branson move to a new location? This site needs to be studied extensively, this is an incredible find.Jinty Lyons

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The groundworks have begun on the site of the new Virgin Hotel. PIC: John Savage

Of course there would be things found under buildings, especially in the Old Town as the area was built upon the old Edinburgh. It’s sad that they keep demolishing old buildings to be replaced by hideous, so-called contemporary buildings.Sarah Jane Flynn

An ancient burial site is an excellent reason to preserve this space. Grass, trees and benches (perhaps a memorial rose bush and plaque of course) so we can sit awhile and ponder what life must have been like before Virgin, Cala, and student flats.Deanne Chatt

I think they should continue the excavations for a bit longer and not skip anything just because of a hotel. We have plenty of hotels.Seonaidh Guthrie

Very interesting. I hope they are allowed enough time to complete the archaeology and not just rush to build the hotel that inevitably will be cashing in.Aisha Moohan

Always important to check sites that are in areas of historical interest. A few days slippage in the timetable will not damage the hotel project.Andrew Crosbie

The drinking vessel is mine!Thomas McLaughlin

Last week also saw us announce the new book, Lothian Buses: 100 Years and Beyond, by Edinburgh bus historian Richard Walter, to mark the centenary of the buses in Edinburgh.

Here's what you had to say about it:

I was born and brought up in Edinburgh. We lived just off the Lanark Road towards Juniper Green so a number 44 was my bus both to school and later to work. I used to stand in Princes Street or Shandwick Place and every other bus seemed to go past twice before a 44 appeared. Now when I visit the city centre every second bus seems to be a 44! Allan Brooks

It’s an amazing service, so just hope the strike they are supposed to be having in July will not happen. Thanks to all the drivers and staff who deliver the service each day.Marlene St John Ayre

A number 18 used to take me from Liberton Gardens to Quality Street, Davidsons Mains to visit my grandma. Happy days.John Adamson

We also told how VIiking Cruise Lines’ newest ocean ship, the Viking Jupiter, came to Edinburgh and bosses were looking for volunteers to greet tourists in Leith.

And our readers reacted like this:

In other words, Forth Ports want locals to provide this service, but don’t want to pay them for it. Which is exploitation, pure and simple.Lucien Romano

Why not do what they used to do with cruise ship meeter-greeters in Mallorca - pay them in cash without deducting tax or social security?Iain Stewart

Are they a charity? No. Then pay the folk.Kev McIntosh

There was an uproar when the Festival wanted volunteers. Why is this any different? If they’re as big an asset as portrayed here, pay them.Danny Craig

Cruise ships normally have tours organised for passengers. Can’t understand why they need volunteers.Jess Green

930 visitors who don’t need hotels, breakfast or evening meals. The most they will spend is a few pounds on snacks and cheap trinkets to take home.FinMtl McMillan

You will get the people with self importance volunteering as long as they get to wear a hi viz vest!Tony Harvey

Nice idea - how about they actually create jobs for people to do this? Voluntary work is fine, but this would benefit Edinburgh council, Ocean terminal and the cruise ships. I’m sure between the three of them they could pay people to do this. Leave the volunteering to actual charity work.Suzi Panay

Edinburgh tour guides are on £25-35k a year! Viking made £1bn in 2017/18. You want my knowledge, pay for it.Will Irvine

It sounds a nice idea to give some visitors a warm Scottish welcome. Also, there is something quite lovely in the idea of volunteering!Steven Robertson

I love seeing everyone coming in to see Edinburgh and seeing the large queues of everyone, waiting to go back much later.Heather Henderson

Well we volunteer to do this in Australia, for international flights too in some areas. Great chance to meet and greet some new and interesting people. You are not working for ‘free’, you are getting out there gaining new experiences!Vicki Jones

I’m starting an appeal for the cruise ship operators to fund my next holiday. What do you think they will say?Paddy Tully

How about the cruise company pay people to meet and greet?Joan Ballantyne