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Three Phases of Wooden Wagon Way Uncovered in Scotland

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND—BBC News reports that three layers of wooden tracks constructed for the horse-drawn Tranent Waggonway have been uncovered in East Lothian by researchers from the 1722 Waggonway Project. The line was first built in 1722 to haul coal along a two-mile route from a pit in Tranent to the coast of the Firth of Forth at Cockenzie and Port Seton, where it was used as fuel for making salt. The distance between the two rails was initially set at about three feet, three inches apart, and was expanded to four feet across in the second phase, between 1722 and 1725, when cobbles were also set between the rails as a path for the horses. The third phase of construction lasted from 1743 to 1744. “The wagonway excavation has shown that these waggonways are far more complex that the single-phase structures previously excavated, and the survival of timber on site including joints, helps us further understand the construction of these early railways,” commented railway historian Anthony Leslie Dawson. To read about DNA analysis of remains dating to the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries interred in a peculiar Scottish grave, go to "Heads of the Family."

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