In June of last year, planning permission was granted for the erection of a Waitrose supermarket and petrol station on an overgrown field at Colgrain, on the eastern side of Helensburgh. It was well known locally that this site contained a great many glass bottles, stoneware jars and rubbish dating to the 19th century. During the 19th century, which saw the development of Helensburgh (Charter of 1802), it was usual for retailers to have their names, addresses and labels of goods marked on the stoneware pots, glass bottles, clay pipes etc that they sold. The site was formerly knows as Camis Eskan Coup 2, with the earlier town dump, Camis Eskan 1, being located to the east of the Red Burn.
Fiona Baker, Director of Firat Archaeological Services Ltd, grew up in Helensburgh and saw the development of the site as an opportunity for a collection of the bottles and pots to be made for permanent storage and display in Helensburgh. The value of such a collection to the town would be as a historical resource available for local study that reflected the history and development of the town, and which would add to its sense of identity. Fiona therefore approached the developer for permission to undertake a community excavation and education project on the site.
Research undertaken during the course of the project indicated that the site was in use as a coup from 1894 to 1929, and this wasborne out by the style and dates of the bottles recovered. Some of this material will be on display at the History Hut, which will open on the Waitrose site on the 25th of July. The hut will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11:00 and 15:30 until the opening of the store in October or November.