Reconstruction drawing of Hall B and its encircling palisade at Doon Hill, near Dunbar, drawn by Dr Brian Hope-Taylor following his excavations there between 1964 and 1966

Volume 32 of the East Lothian Antiquarian’s Transactions is now online

A review of Volume 32 of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists’s Society Transactions penned by Don Martin was published in the Spring 2020 edition of Scottish Local History. We can announce that the volume is now available to download, along with dozens of other publications for free.

You can download a complete pdf of every volume since 1924, with the exception of the most recent transactions, which require membership and entitle you to a printed copy.  Print copies of most volumes are also available for purchase.

A copy of the review can be found in the pdf below: Transaction 32 Review from Scottish Local History

Transactions of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists’ Society, Volume 32, 2019

This volume of the East Lothian Transactions could be seen as a ‘reinterpretation of history’ issue, because it challenges the views of some highly regarded specialists. The front cover has a reconstruction drawing of an ancient building at Doon Hill, Dunbar, prepared by Cambridge archaeologist Dr Brian Hope Taylor. Dr Hope-Taylor excavated the site during the period 1964-6, when he identified the building remains as of Dark Age Anglian origin. For some time afterwards his findings were regarded as significant evidence for the presence of Angles in East Lothian. Over the years his interpretation has sometimes been challenged, but in the new East Lothian Transactions Professor lan Ralston’s article seems definitive in confirming the building as very much older, of early Neolithic origin (early fourth millennium BC). Another highly regarded specialist whose findings are challenged in this volume is WFH Nicolaisen, author of the standard work on Scottish Place-Names. Nicolaisen considered that the Scottish placenames Tyninghame and Whittingehame belonged to the earliest period of Anglo-Saxon immigration into Britain, on the basis that in their original form they had an ‘ingaham’ ending, with an extra vowel between ‘ing’ and ‘ham’. However, in his article ‘New Thoughts on Old Place-names: Tyninghame and Whittingehame’, Alan James challenges this interpretation, both on philological grounds and because of the fact that ‘ingaham’ names are rare in the north of England, more usually found further south. For many years Nicolaisen’s finding was considered to be part of the evidence for early Anglian ingress into Scotland, but James’s interpretation casts doubt on this. The Nicolaisen interpretation was for long cited in works of popular history, such as Historic Scotland’s Angels, Fools and Tyrants (1999) as well as in archaeological publications. Less confrontational in nature, but nevertheless defining as a significant reinterpretation of history is Helen Robertson’s ‘A Medieval Palace Revealed: Haddington’s historic royal residence’ which sets out evidence for the former existence of a royal building in central Haddington between St Mary’s Church and Nungate Bridge. This contrasts with an illustrated fragment of a long-demolished building in Court Street, at one time believed to be the remains of a royal palace. The other articles in Volume 32 include ‘Two Old English Place Names: Haddington and Clerkington’, by Liz Curtis, and ‘From Old to New: the creation of the present village of Tyninghame’, by Joy Dodd, both of which link, in different ways with Alan James’s Tyninghame/Whittingehame article.

Don Martin.