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Playful Archaeology

Victorians on the Great Sea Serpent

Playful Archaeology

Factory workers flock to King George V Park to climb aboard the gargantuan seesaw and Great Sea Serpent. Is it all just fun and games or is there more to this silly scene?

In 1865, the Royal Patent Gymnasium opened its gates in George V Park, Edinburgh. Designed to provide exercise for the city’s working population, the Gymnasium featured some crazy rides, including a giant seesaw, patent velocipede, and The Great Sea Serpent which could hold 600 rowers simultaneously. Archaeologists from Archaeology Scotland worked with volunteers from Crisis Skylight and WorldWide Volunteering to excavate the park in 2015 to throw light on this incredible chapter of the Park’s history.

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Football crest

The Park was home to St Bernard’s Football Club. ‘The Saints’ had their record attendance in 1932, with 27,000 people turning up to watch them play Hibernian.


Curling stone

In the 18th century, curling was a popular pastime in what is now George V Park and the local team was the Canonmills Curling Club.


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