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Last Updated: Friday, 26 October 2007, 23:43 GMT 00:43 UK
Dig for freed slave's castle home
Culzean Castle/Pic: Undiscovered Scotland
An old map was used to help track down the site at Culzean Castle
Excavations in the grounds of a Scottish castle have uncovered the remains of a house belonging to a slave freed in the 18th Century.

The dig at Culzean Castle in Ayrshire was launched in an effort to find out more about the life of Scipio Kennedy.

The full findings will be unveiled at a conference in Glasgow at the weekend.

The National Trust for Scotland said Scipio had been taken from his home in Guinea at the age of six and was granted his freedom at Culzean in 1725.

The work to trace his history was carried out as part of NTS's Heritage Lottery Fund project This is Our Story, which commemorates the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.

We think it was probably built of stone and quite fancy
Derek Alexander

Scipio was bound for the West Indian plantations when he was bought by Captain Andrew Douglas of Mains in Dunbartonshire.

In 1705, Captain Douglas' daughter, Jean, married John Kennedy and Scipio went with her, eventually moving to Culzean.

He took the family surname of Kennedy, learned to read and write and was instructed in textile manufacture.

In 1725, Scipio was given his freedom and a home in the grounds of Culzean Castle. He married local woman Margaret Gray three years later, with whom he had eight children.

September dig

He died at the age of 80 on 24 June 1774 and a gravestone was erected in Kirkoswald graveyard.

About 20 volunteers of all ages helped with the excavation, along with Culzean Country Park rangers and other NTS staff.

Derek Alexander, NTS west region archaeologist, told BBC Scotland that they unearthed evidence of Scipio's house.

Debbie Jackson and Derek Alexander
Findings from the project will be presented in Glasgow at the weekend

He said: "People have said they think it was in the walled garden, or further along the coast, but we had an old map and that's the only thing it's marked on, from the 1750s.

"We had to overlay that over the modern Ordnance Survey maps and we now think we have a pretty good idea of where the site is."

The excavation took place in early September and experts are analysing the artefacts which were unearthed.

Among them were sandstone, slates, post-Medieval pottery, bottle and glass fragments.

Mr Alexander said the house was probably a fairly grand affair.

"It cost 90 to build so we think it was probably built of stone and quite fancy," he said.

"It was demolished when they built the walled garden, so a lot of the material went into that."

Cloth clue

Also discovered was a lead seal which may have come from a bottle or a bolt of cloth, which would tie in with Scipio's training as a weaver.

Debbie Jackson, NTS west region education officer, said the social aspects of the story also raised interesting questions.

She said: "He was given his freedom by the Kennedys in 1725, which is a great deal earlier than he needed to have the manumission, the document of freedom.

"We can only assume that the Kennedys cared for him greatly and wanted to ensure that he was safe."

The results of the work will be discussed at a conference on Slavery and the West of Scotland at Hutcheson's Hall, Ingram Street, Glasgow, on Saturday.

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