Dryburgh Abbey

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Site Type ABBEY, GAMING BOARD
Canmore ID 55618
Site Number NT53SE 2
NGR NT 59158 31703
Council SCOTTISH BORDERS, THE
Parish MERTOUN
Former Region BORDERS
Former District ETTRICK AND LAUDERDALE
Former County BERWICKSHIRE
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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NT53SE 2.00 5915 3167

NT53SE 2.01 NT 5932 3162 Brewery (Possible)
NT53SE 2.02 NT 5919 3201 Lodge
NT53SE 2.03 NT 5931 3181 Lodge
NT53SE 2.04 Centred NT 5910 3175 Burial-ground
NT53SE 2.05 NT 59153 31679 Chapter House
NT53SE 2.06 NT 59103 31633 James I Monument, Obelisk

(NT 5915 3167) Dryburgh Abbey (NR)
(Premonstratensian - founded AD 1150)
OS 6" map (1967)

Dryburgh Abbey, a house of Premonstratensian canons, was founded on 10th November 1150 by Hugh de Moreville; the alleged foundation charter which attributes the foundation to David I is spurious. It was burned by the English in 1322 and in 1385. It is again reported as devastated by fire in 1461, and was probably damaged again in 1523. The convent, which consisted of at least sixteen canons in addition to the abbot in 1537/8 was reduced to about twelve canons by 1558. It was erected, along with Cambuskenneth Abbey and Inchmahome priory, into the temporal lordship of Cardross in favour of John Erskine Earl of Mar, in parliament, 1604 and 1606 and by charter, 1610 and 1615. (Information from Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vols.19, 20)
I B Cowan and D E Easson 1976; J Bower 1852; G Robb 1873

Full architectural description given by J S Richardson and M Wood 1948.

Notes and Activities Click to sort results by Event date ascending

 EXTERNAL REFERENCE

Notes EXTERNAL REFERENCE:

R.I.B.A Drawing Collection:
A W Anderson - detail of bays of St Mary's aisle and part plan.

National Library.
Country Life, 7 may 1943 - photograph and information
Uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton Nos 147, 148 - 1 view 1785
- 1 water colour 1789

Mitchell Library
Annan Vol I No. 15 - Photograph of St Catherine's window

Further details

22 February 1961
 FIELD VISIT

Notes As described.
Surveyed at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (WDJ) 22 February 1961

Further details

1977 to 1978
 AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Notes Photographed from the air by the RCAHM and by CUCAP (C 6-7, L 26-8, BD 22-5, MT 77-8).

Further details

July 1998
 WATCHING BRIEF

Notes NT 5915 3167 A watching brief was conducted in July 1998. A hearth and ruined chimney breast on the floor over the late 12th-century Chapter House were dismantled in order to waterproof the surface. The base of the chimney breast proved to be in situ, probably built in the 16th century when the Commendator's House was built in the ruins of the Dormitory. It was laid on a flaggy surface which may have been an earlier floor level, or the bedding material used to level over the top of the Chapter House vault below, so that a floor could be laid.
Sponsor: Historic Scotland
P Sharman 1998

Further details

May 2000
 EXCAVATION

Notes NT 591 316 A minor excavation was carried out at Dryburgh Abbey (NMRS NT53SE 2) in May 2000 in order to allow a new gravestone to be placed in position. The excavation was located outside the church in the corner created by the junction of the N transept and the E end of the church. No masonry or finds were exposed.
Sponsor: Historic Scotland
D Stewart 2000

Further details

March 2002
 EXCAVATION

Notes NT 591 316 Nine trenches were excavated in March 2002 to determine the depth below ground level and density of archaeological features at this site. This was done to see if it would be possible to run a drain, or series of drains, along the E side of the structure. Problems have been encountered with standing water externally, and damp internally, which threatens the survival of the plasterwork of the Chapter House.
This series of trenches demonstrated the survival of numerous archaeological deposits immediately below the turf, along the whole E Range of the Abbey. Although the absolute date and significance of some of the features must be uncertain in such small-scale excavations, the discovery of construction trenches for the Abbey walls indicates that at least some of these features must have a medieval origin. The other clearly identifiable features noted at the site were a series of drains, but these seem likely to be relatively recent.
Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.
Sponsor: HS
G Ewart, A Radley and D Murray 2002

Further details

September 2002
 WATCHING BRIEF

Notes NT 591 316 A watching brief was conducted in August and September 2002 during the replacement of a water main through the environs of Dryburgh Abbey, undertaken to comply with Scheduled Monument Consent. To the N of the house the cut for a ditch was revealed, which was 3.5m wide and filled with jumbled stones and topsoil. The alignment was ESE-WNW and this feature may have been associated with a 14th-century tower house on the site. No other associated remains were seen. To the E, between the Coach House and the Old Corn Mill (NT53SE 3) the deposits around and under the trackway were all post-medieval. Abraded glazed and unglazed medieval pottery was recovered from topsoil contexts around Dryburgh Abbey House.
Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.
Sponsor: Northumberland Estates.
I Suddaby 2002

Further details

December 2002
 TRIAL TRENCH

Notes NT 591 316 A programme of test trenching was undertaken in December 2002 prior to the laying of an electricity cable to the E of Dryburgh Abbey. This followed previous excavations (DES 2002, 103) which uncovered a variety of medieval and post-medieval archaeological remains.
Both medieval and post-medieval deposits were encountered. Many of these have been interpreted as landscaping, particularly at the N end of the area examined, where the angle of slope varies dramatically either side of the ha-ha. The rich midden material encountered, which demonstrates the excellent survival of bone on the site, may be serving a similar function.
Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.
Sponsor: HS
G Ewart 2003

Further details

January 2004
 WATCHING BRIEF

Notes NT 591 316 A watching brief was undertaken in January 2004 while a series of small pits were excavated for the installation of a metal barrier along both sides of the small `bridge' over the extreme W end of the water channel.
The works caused no significant damage to the masonry of the bridge. The only areas disturbed appeared to be of relatively recent repair, rebuild or rubble infill. Most of the red sandstone masonry and rubble appears likely to have been reused from the ruined abbey. There were no finds of archaeological significance.
Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.
Sponsor: HS.
A Hollinrake 2004

Further details

26 September 2007
 WATCHING BRIEF

Notes NT 5914 3170 Work took place to replace a wooden stair connecting the upper floor of the E range with the church and a watching brief was maintained on 26 November 2007 during the excavation of a shallow slot in the S Transept. The slot was just N of the junction of the S and W walls of the S Transept and was needed to take the N end of the new timber stair. The wooden stair can be seen to overlie the scar of a robbed-out stair (presumably stone), contemporary with the Abbey’s use. A stair in this position, connecting the monastic dormitory and the church, is a standard feature of such sites, known as the ‘night stair’.
An irregular line of stones was thought to be the top of the below-ground level footings of the Transept’s W wall. The scars noted on this line of stones probably represent the base of the night stair.
Archive: RCAHMS (intended)
Funder: Historic Scotland
David Murray (Kirkdale Archaeology), 2008

Further details

26 November 2007
 WATCHING BRIEF

Notes NT 5911 3171 A watching brief was maintained on 26 November 2007 during the removal of a diseased laburnum tree and excavation of a small hole for a replacement tree. The tree was directly against the N boundary wall, some 3m W of where the path and wall meet at the NW corner of the church. The replacement hole’s NE corner was 2.4m W and 2.4m S of this junction. There were no finds or features of archaeological significance.
Archive: RCAHMS (intended)
Funder: Historic Scotland
David Murray (Kirkdale Archaeology), 2008

Further details

15 May 2008
 WATCHING BRIEF

Notes NT 5912 3170 and NT 5901 3173 Three small trenches were excavated on 15 May 2008, one just inside the nave near the W door and two at the far W end of the Abbey grounds, near the River Tweed.
The two trenches in the grounds were for the relocation of a bench, while the trench in the nave was a shallow
excavation to allow the placement of slabs in an area of erosion next to a notice board. Nothing of significance was seen in the first two, but human remains were found in the nave trench. This burial had been previously disturbed, but both sides of a pelvis in good condition and traces of the coccyx and the base of the spine were still in situ. Bones found in overlying deposits were replaced and the trench backfilled.
Archive: RCAHMS (intended)
Funder: Historic Scotland
Alan Radley (Kirkdale Archaeology), 2008

Further details

4 June 2008 to 6 June 2008
 EXCAVATION

Notes NT 591 316 Following large-scale excavations in 2006, minor excavations were carried out 4–6 June 2008 as part of works to improve drainage near the E range. An underground ‘mole’ was used to dig a drain, at a depth intended to avoid disturbing any archaeological deposits, from the sump and soak-away just S of the Warming House to the ditch to the S of the Novices’ Dayroom.
Three small trenches were excavated, one an extension of an earlier trench at the sump and two on the N side of the ditch where the ‘mole’ was intended to emerge. The sump trench did not reveal any new features beyond those seen in 2006, relating to ‘industrial’ activity during the monastic period. Features in the two ditch trenches were thought likely to be of post-monastic date, associated with late 18th to early 19th-century landscaping.
A standing building survey was also carried out to examine the exterior N and E walls of the Chapter House. Evidence suggested the presence of timber structures, including what may have been a substantial timber gallery running around the upper E end of the Chapter House and possibly extending to the N face of the NE tower.
Archive: RCAHMS (intended)
Funder: Historic Scotland
David Murray and Alan Radley (Kirkdale Archaeology), 2008

Further details

16 July 2009 to 17 July 2009
 WATCHING BRIEF

Notes NT 5915 3172 A watching brief and minor excavation were carried out 16–17 July 2009 during the excavation of a grave in the ruinous N transept of the church of Dryburgh Abbey, just to the W of Sir Walter Scott’s grave and in the Haig family plot. A low stone wall surrounds the S side of this plot, with its N, E and W sides formed from recycled Abbey masonry. A complex sequence of deposits was seen, and although it was difficult to date these, some features may have dated to the monastic period.
Archive: RCAHMS (intended)
Funder: Historic Scotland
David Murray – Kirkdale Archaeology

Further details

22 February 2010
 WATCHING BRIEF

Notes NT 5915 3168
A watching brief was maintained on 22 February 2010 during the excavation of trenches associated with the installation of a power supply to the parlour in
the E range of Dryburgh Abbey. The deposits revealed inside the parlour indicated that the present floor is of 19th-century or later date. However, the original floor level may survive beneath the modern floor at a similar depth to the apparently medieval deposits recorded in the exterior trench.
Archive: RCAHMS (intended)
Funder: Historic Scotland
G Ewart and D Murray 2010

Further details

7 June 2011
 WATCHING BRIEF

Notes A watching brief was carried out during the excavation of three small, shallow trenches for the installation of new signage. There were no features or finds of archaeological significance. In the trench at NT 5912 3165, compacted stone gravel and pebble surface probably represent post-monastic levelling associated with re-landscaping of the monastic ruin.
Information from Oasis (kirkdale1-123467) 20 August 2012

Further details

15 July 2011
 WATCHING BRIEF

Notes NT 5914 3172 A watching brief was carried out on 15 June 2011 during the excavation of a small trench for a gravestone in the church of Dryburgh Abbey. An earlier excavation at this location in 2009 had recorded a sequence of human burials, as well as a mass of disarticulated bone, much of it human. The 2011 excavation revealed the presence of considerable quantities of bone, much of it doubtless human, although there was no indication that any of it was from an in situ articulated burial. This confirmed the findings of the earlier work, which indicated that the site contains a complicated sequence of inhumations, with later burials disturbing earlier ones. The fragments of reddish sandstone recorded were probably derived from the demolished Abbey Church.
Archive: RCAHMS (intended)
Funder: Historic Scotland
Kirkdale Archaeology, 2011

Information also reported in Oasis (kirkdale1-123634) 20 August 2012

Further details

 
Books and References

Anon (1928) Dryburgh Abbey - Scot Ctry Life Scot Country Life March 1928
Page(s): 18, engraving

Anon (1952) Guide to Ancient Monuments (Scotland),
Page(s): Vol.6, 79

Baldwin, J (1997) Edinburgh, Lothians and the Borders, Exploring Scotland's Heritage series Edinburgh
Page(s): 160-1 No. 77 Held at RCAHMS A.1.4.HER

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