THE search is on to find a long-lost piece of Haddington’s history.

Haddington’s History Society teamed up with the Scottish Battlefields Trust to organise the first ‘Siege Symposium’ at the beginning of the month.

A day-long gathering of academics, archaeologists and local historians set out to determine the location of the long-lost 16th-century ‘Trace Italienne’ fortifications of the town.

The symposium was briefed on the history of the Siege of Haddington and the research undertaken by Dr Jon Cooper, from the Centre for War Studies and Conflict Archaeology at the University of Glasgow, who opened his presentation thanking the Siege of Haddington Research Group (SHRG) for all the work they had done to date.

Dr Cooper said: “It was Mary of Guise who announced that the English left ‘nothing but the plague’ when they left the town in September 1549 – however, we are convinced that traces of the fortifications can still be seen in the landscape today.

“This symposium is a chance for all the evidence found to date to be assessed and to discuss the next step in the search.”

The ‘Trace Italienne’ fortifications were the most up-to-date design of their era, copied from those being built in southern Europe to resist the new gunpowder weapon technology.

An investigation into a crucial part of Haddington's history is under way

The English thought the fort at Haddington would be the ‘Daunter of the Scots’.

The fortifications did withstand everything the Scots and their French allies could throw at them but cost the lives of thousands and devastated the local countryside.

Everything was levelled when the English left, but those organising the ambitious project believe traces of the fort in the archaeological record can be found.

The teams toured the town to look for evidence of the siege in the modern landscape, stopping off at points where evidence of the 16th-century townscape could still be spotted in the modern urban development.

The day concluded with each team presenting their findings and a group discussion expanding on the new-found evidence.

The conference concluded that the research done to date was to be applauded but that there were plenty of further opportunities to be had around the town for further investigation.

The team looking at the construction and location of the fortifications was encouraged by the remains of the old town wall along the banks of the River Tyne and around Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, concluding that a thorough survey of all the old walls of Haddington might shed light on the location of the 16th-century defences.

The symposium ended with an exciting piece of new evidence presented by the team seeking the siegeworks built by the French, who identified the possible location of a gun platform to the west of the town overlooking the Westport and the road to Edinburgh.

New evidence suggested that this gun position was located to the west of Letham Drive and might still be present in the modern landscape.

Further research and a desk-based analysis will be needed to assess the potential for this new site.