Secret garden discovered at Culzean

Culzean dig by NTS

Maintenance work at NTS property unearths undiscovered garden 

3rd May 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of an 18th century walled garden buried below the Fountain Court in front of the National Trust for Scotland's (NTS) Culzean Castle.

The discovery was made as part of a major project to improve drainage and to make the court suitable for staging large public events. 

During the excavation of a new herringbone pattern of drains and the installation of an irrigation sprinkler system, stone walls were located and recorded. 

It emerged the walls formed a large rectangular enclosure over 60m long (north-south) by 30m (east-west). 

As the current works presented a very rare opportunity to dig below the well-kept lawn, a larger trench was excavated to locate and expose the southern corner of the garden. 

Careful excavation and cleaning revealed that the wall at this point survives to over six courses, standing around 0.7m high.

This garden wall is thought to result from work undertaken by Sir John Kennedy of Culzean, second Baronet, in 1733 where he extended the walled garden at the foot of the terrace walls on the east side of the castle.

This garden is shown on the estate map of Culzean drawn by John Foulis in 1755. 

Derek Alexander, head of archaeological services for the NTS said: “It is so exciting to see part of the original walled garden at Culzean.

“Although it was marked on the estate map, until now we never knew that any of it survived below the immaculate turf of the Fountain Court. 

“This work has given us the perfect opportunity to explore a hidden aspect of Culzean’s past and, once the lawn is re-seeded, I can’t imagine the gardeners will want us digging more holes.”