SETBACK FOR ASSEMBLY PLAN AS GOVERNMENT LAYS DOWN THE LAW; History Men in Move to Delay Construction of New Parliament

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AN archaeological dig could hold up construction of Scotland's new parliament building, it emerged last night.

Researchers have demanded the right to excavate the assembly site at Holyrood, in Edinburgh, which historians believe was one of the most important parts of the capital in the 12th century.

Mark Collard, the city's keeper of archaeology, said: 'This is potentially one of the most exciting sites in Edinburgh.

'It has high archaeological potential and is immediately adjacent to the medieval abbey of Holyrood founded by David I in 1128.

'The site would probably have been among the first places occupied in the burgh of the Canongate which grew up along the road leading from the abbey.'

As soon as the Holy-rood site was confirmed, the Scottish Office was warned moves to delay the start of building work planned for 1999 were likely.

The city council will make a formal application for permission to start an archaeological dig on the four-acre site presently occupied by the Scottish and Newcastle brewery.

Council planning boss Robert Cairns said: 'In areas of the Old Town, city centre

and Leith, we have frequently requested of developers that some archaeological excavation takes place. …