Archaeologists reveal shoes of workers at 18th century site which was Scotland's largest whisky distillery

By Culture24 Reporter | 11 May 2015

Site which was one of Edinburgh's largest whisky distilleries opened to public before development

A photo of an archaeologist working outdoors in a helmet
© City of Edinburgh Council
The site of one of Scotland’s largest whisky distilleries, where archaeologists found shoes once worn by workers at the 18th century spirit powerhouse, has been revealed to the public in a vision of the alcohol industry alongside Edinburgh’s Union Canal more than 200 years ago.

Lochrin Basin was operated by Grey’s Distillers before its 1780 acquisition by John Haig, whose sister, Margaret, married into the Jameson family. The family also built and bought distilleries in Canonmills, Leith, and Sunbury, with Lochrin built to provide access to the canal network.

A photo of a large outdoor urban archaeology trench in an urban setting
© City of Edinburgh Council
Excavations at the site, which will be turned into student housing later this year, have unearthed original ceramics, glass, walls, wooden wharfs and the remains of an 18th century engine house thought to have pumped water to the brewery.

“Brewers were originally attracted to Fountainbridge and Tollcross because of the large quantities of pure water trapped under the ground,” explains Richard Lewis, of the City of Edinburgh Council.

A photo of a large brown and grey archaeological trench
© City of Edinburgh Council
“It didn’t take long for distillers to catch on. The footprints of Edinburgh’s industrial path can still be seen and the archaeology provides an insight into the type of construction undertaken by Scottish drinks companies of the early 19th century.”

Visitors were given the chance to talk to experts at the site during a public open day on Saturday (May 9 2015).

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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Latest comment: >Make a comment
I am interested in the shoes because of researching images of shoes on part of a 18th century lead roof now shown in Baslow church porch, Derbyshire. Would like to know if your shoes were deliberately put into the foundations of the building as was often the custom.
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