Scotland’s First Railway: The 1722 Waggonway with Ed Bethune. A Dig It! Special

The Shindig – An Archaeology Podcast

From an industrial revolution led my medieval monks to the Industrial Revolution of coal, salt and railways – via Bonnie Prince Charlie and the 1745 Battle of Prestonpans that was fought on the site! – this Dig It! Special podcast hops on board the 1722 Waggonway Project with Chairman, Ed Bethune.

In a compelling chat about a Scottish site of international importance, Ed talks to us about ‘The 1722 Waggonway Project, [which] is a community heritage project run by the 1722 Waggonway Heritage Group – created to interpret, preserve and enhance the route and associated industries & environments of Scotland’s first railway, the Tranent – Cockenzie Waggonway’ (

What’s more, if you are listening to this before the 7-10th of September, 2023, you can take part in the project! Details below and on the 1722 Waggonway website and social media:

* 7th – 10th Sept excavation of salt pans and waggonway at Cockenzie Harbour.

* Supported by CFA Archaeology

* Drop-in activities available 8th-10th – spoil sieving, finds cleaning.

* Museum open 10am-4pm every day

* Geophysics survey drop-in 9th & 10th with Wessex Archaeology (this is on the fields to the south, through which the waggonway passes)

A note from the brilliant 1722 Waggonway Heritage Group:

The Tranent – Cockenzie Waggonway was built by the York Buildings Company in 1722. Construction started in May of that year, with local timber-wright William Dickson employed to make wooden rails, wagons and wheels […]. The Cadell family bought the line in 1779 and upgraded it to an iron railway in 1815, before employing Robert Stevenson to make further modifications at Cockenzie Harbour in 1833. The history of the Waggonway and the coal & salt industries it served can be learned in full by visiting the Waggonway Museum.

A note from our wonderful Dig It! partners:

Dig It! is coordinated by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and primarily funded by Historic Environment Scotland.

Dig It! is a hub for Scottish archaeology coordinated by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Our mission is to increase understanding of and engagement with archaeology for Scotland-based audiences by providing promotion and support to the heritage sector and enabling other sectors and excluded communities to connect with archaeology. One example of this is our annual Scotland Digs summer fieldwork campaigns and for 2023, we’re excited to be working with the Red River Archaeology Group to produce special episodes of The Shindig podcast to showcase a few of the fantastic archaeological projects taking place across the country.

Dig It! website:

Dig It! Digest:


#ScotlandDigs2023 #archaeology #history #Scotland

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