Heritage Festival digs into region’s archaeology

Coldingham Priory

Published: Thursday, 7th September 2017

As part of the month-long Scottish Borders Heritage Festival the public will be able to see archaeology in action and also see and hear about some of the fascinating finds discovered in the area.

This year's festival programme is the biggest to date, and ties in perfectly with Scotland's Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Dr Chris Bowles, our archaeologist

“One of the most important things that we’d like to see come from this year’s Heritage Festival, and the ‘Year of’, is increasing the profile of the area which has one of the richest collections of archaeology in Britain.

“If we are able to do that, and generate interest in our region’s archaeology and heritage, we can in turn attract more visitors to the area and hopefully also encourage people to take an active role in understanding, protecting and preserving it for the future.”

Monastery site exploration

At Coldingham, visitors will be able to see archaeology in action during the festival, as the Friends of Coldingham Priory and DigVentures undertake a project to try and uncover the site of the 7th century Anglo-Saxon monastery of St Ebba.

The main event takes place on Saturday 30 September, however the Friends are hosting a series of open afternoons during the festival.

Dr Bowles

“Some geophysical survey was carried out to the east of the priory several years ago which showed some incredible results, and it has always been the intention to test those results out.

“Both tradition and historical work suggests the site of the Monastery of St Ebba was at St Abb’s Head, however the geophysics and some other excavations and finds, including Christian burials older than the priory, suggest it may actually have been at Coldingham. The only way to find out if the traditions are wrong is to dig some test pits and see what we can uncover. We hope we’ll find the remains of an extremely important monastic site some 350 years older than the Priory, which was established in the 12th century.”

St Abb's dig

The National Trust for Scotland will also be running a weekend dig at St Abb’s Head on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September.

Led by Archaeologist Daniel Rhodes, the dig will be an opportunity to find out more about the history of the 19th century signal station and the rest of St Abb’s Head.

Further archaeology themed events as part of the festival include an exhibition of the archaeology of Tweeddale running from 9-30 September at the Tweeddale Museum and Gallery in Peebles.

Part-funded by Museums and Galleries Scotland, the exhibition presents a range of objects and illustrates the lives of the people who made, used and sometimes hid them, as well as those who discovered or donated them.

Extensive festival programme

The Scottish Borders Heritage Festival, which runs throughout September and includes over 200 events, is being delivered by Live Borders in partnership with ourselves and the Borders Heritage Forum. A full programme of events can be found online.

Funding for the festival has been provided by Creative Scotland, Museums and Galleries Scotland, EventScotland – as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology - and the Fallago Environment Fund.