Old Melrose, St Cuthbert's Chapel

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Canmore ID 55631
Site Number NT53SE 23
NGR NT 588 340
Former Region BORDERS
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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Archaeological Notes

NT53SE 23 588 340

(NT 5886 3406) St Cuthbert's Chapel (NR) (site of)
OS 6" map (1967)

This chapel, dedicated to St Cuthbert, was built shortly after 1073; it belonged to Durham until between 1130 and 1133 when it was given to the Cistercians of Melrose by David I. To judge by the single fragment that remains, a 12th century corbel carved in the form of a grotesque face, now in the museum at Melrose Abbey, the chapel must have been a building of some importance. It was burnt by the English in or before 1321; it is mentioned again in 1437 in an indulgence granted by the Pope. However, no mention of it is made in a list of dedications to St Cuthbert attributed to John Wessyngton, prior of Durham from 1416 to 1446.
No structural remains of this chapel are visible, but foundations are reported to have been found in a flower bed skirting the SE side of the Chapel Knoll, while three graves are said to lie under the lawn E of the SE corner of Old Melrose.
RCAHMS 1956, visited 1945

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (ONB) notes that human bones have been found near this site, and near Old Melrose house. (See also NT53SE 21.)
Name Book 1859

No structural remains of this chapel survive.
Visited by OS (WDJ) 14 February 1961

The foundations of St Cuthbert's Chapel are reported by the present owner to be underneath the greenhouse of Old Melrose.
E W MacKie 1975

NT 587 341 Geophysical survey was undertaken in September 2002 close to the Scheduled site of St Cuthbert's Chapel, Old Melrose (NT53SE 23). The aim was to attempt to locate features relating to occupation on the promontory and investigate a number of possible features identified by dowsing by Mr Walter Elliot of the Trimontium Trust, including a possible road alignment.
Gradiometry failed to identify any features of archaeological interest, whereas the resistivity survey identified several anomalies. Several parallel, linear, high resistivity anomalies aligned NNE-SSW were interpreted as field drains. A relict field boundary, shown on the 1st edition OS map, was located. Running along the top of a ridge crossing the field W-E, a curving anomaly defined by high and low resistance readings was interpreted as the possible alignment of a road bounded by a ditch on either side. To the N of this putative road alignment and in the centre of the field, several rectangular anomalies were identified as the possible remains of structures.
Report deposited in the NMRS.
Sponsor: Trimontium Trust.
G Mudie, T Poller and C Rennie 2002

The site of Mailros Abbey and St Cuthbert's Chapel, Old Melrose, lies on the peninsula formed by a wide eastwards bend of the River Tweed. Nothing much is visible on the site today. There is a mound with some undressed stone protruding. The site is adjacent to the grounds of Old Melrose house. The garden wall has numerous finely-carved stones, which may originate from the chapel.
Dr B Lonie, 1997

23 September 2009 to 24 September 2009

Notes NT 58809 33967 A watching brief was undertaken 23–24 September 2009 during the excavation of a soakaway pit to the SW of a new extension to Old Melrose House. The work was required due to the proximity of the Old Melrose Monastery and St Cuthbert’s Chapel.
A single E–W-aligned wall foundation 6.8m long, 0.60m wide and 0.15m deep, of unmortared sandstone blocks, one course deep and wide and including one dressed stone block, was recorded. No finds were associated with this feature and the wall therefore remains undated. The wall foundations were immediately overlain by buried topsoil containing 19th- and 20th-century finds and redeposited natural subsoil, probably indicative of modern landscaping work. No other significant archaeological remains were recorded.
Archive: RCAHMS (intended). Report: RCAHMS and SMR
Funder: William Younger
Ronan Toolis – GUARD

Further details

Books and References

MacKie, E W (1975a) Scotland: an archaeological guide: from the earliest times to the twelfth century, London
Page(s): 82-3 Held at RCAHMS E.2.MAC

Mudie, Poller and Rennie, G, T and C (2002) 'Old Melrose, Scottish Borders (Melrose parish), geophysical survey', Discovery Excav Scot, vol.3
Page(s): 103

Ordnance Survey (Name Book) Object Name Books of the Ordnance Survey (6 inch and 1/2500 scale). Held at RCAHMS on micro fiche.
Page(s): Book No.28, 241 Held at RCAHMS Ref

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