Issue: Jedburgh Abbey: The Archaeology and Architecture of a Border Abbey

Publication Type
Mono10.pdf (26 MB): Download
Author John H Lewis
Gordon J Ewart
Richard Fawcett
Dennis B Gallagher
Alexandra N Shepherd
Publisher Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Year of Publication 1995
Volume 10
Number of Pages: 182
ISBN 0903903105
Note Date Of Issue From: 1995
Source ADS Archive
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1 - 15
The ruined church of Jedburgh Abbey has long been acknowledged as one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Scotland. However, it was only when the opportunity arose to thoroughly excavate the claustral ranges to the south of the church that direct evidence of the abbey's eventful history emerged. In unravelling the complex sequence of building, clearance, and conversion, new information was revealed regarding the everyday life of the community, from its colonisation to abandonment, as well as showing the abbey in a wider perspective. For the first time, the range and detail of the data retrieved during the excavation revealed the abbey in context '“ historically, socially and topographically. Evidence retrieved over a large area, and covering an extended period of history, was then synthesised within the broad phase of the abbey's construction, occupation and decline. In this chapter the historical background, geology and topography and the relationship of the abbey with the town are considered.
16 - 79
The principal objectives in 1984 were: to excavate below The Bow; to re-excavated elements of the claustral buildings uncovered, consolidated and laid out for display in 1936-37; and to investigate the available area beyond the east claustral range, thus allowing structures partially uncovered, but evidently not understood by the earlier excavators, to be fully exposed and interpreted. The excavation findings have enabled the site's development to be divided into five main periods: period I '“ pre-Augustinian activity (before c 1138); period II '“ the building of the abbey (c 1138 '“ c 1300); period III '“ remodelling and rebuilding (c 1300 '“ c 1480); period IV '“ late repairs and alterations (c 1480 '“ 1559); and period V '“ post-Reformation activity (1560 '“ 1875). A detailed archaeological description of each of these periods in presented.
80 - 81
In 1990 there was limited excavation to determine whether the E end of the 12th-century which was shorter than the surviving one. Simultaneously, a trench was opened between the sixth and seventh piers of the nave to establish whether the church had a temporary W gable.
82 - 116
The finds recovered from the excavation reflect activity pre-dating the 12th-century foundation of the abbey to its abandonment in the 16th century and the later absorption of its buildings by the town of Jedburgh. Inevitably, many of these objects were in disturbed contexts, due principally to frequent episodes of rebuilding and clearance. Fortunately, a few key sealed deposits were recovered which reflected critical periods of occupation and the structural sequence of the site. There are specialist reports on bone and ivory, copper-alloy, lead, iron, coins, tokens and jettons, ceramic material, stone sculpture, window glass, vessel glass, leather, textiles, and clay tobacco pipes.
117 - 130
As well as two graves uncovered in the E end of the church, a total of 41 burials over 5,000 disarticulated bones were excavated from within the East range or adjacent to it. One part-skeleton, retrieved from ditch 928, is thought to be a 12-th century lay burial, 26 graves appeared to be monastic and 15 post-dated the Reformation. Of the probable monastic inhumations, five were from the East cloister alley, three were located in stone-lined graves to the NE of the Chapter house and 17 were unearthed within the Chapter house. These comprised 12 stone-lined graves and five coffin burials. A number of the monastic burials had been disturbed and their bones lost, displaced or damaged as a consequence. Most of this damage took place during the final re-organisation of the Chapter house.
131 - 154
It was a relatively simple task to divide the excavation results into pre-Augustinian, early monastic, later monastic and post-Reformation phases. The findings from Period II, the major building phase, were sub-divided into those associated with the temporary accommodation of the canons and/or the builders (in the mid-12th century) and those related to the construction of the original claustral ranges (from the late 12th to the mid-13th century). However, for three centuries after the completion of this programme the abbey underwent numerous alterations and repairs, many of them difficult to place within neatly defined periods. Nevertheless, two principal stages of rebuilding are postulated. In Period III (c 1300-1480) extensive alterations were implemented throughout and beyond the cloisters, while in Period IV (c 1480-1559) the emphasis seems to have been on repair-work although some larger-scale projects were undertaken, particularly within the East end of the church and within the Chapter house. It is though that many of the modifications carried out in Periods III and IV resulted from damage wrought during the numerous conflicts that raged through the border country after 1296.
155 - 158
While it seems reasonable to assume that some form of plan was produced before work on the construction of the abbey began in the 12th century, certain problems arise when trying to establish the architect's intentions concerning the overall layout of the monastery. Without documentary evidence it is difficult to be certain which points the architects considered significant. There are difficulties inherent in any speculation on the length of the original units used in a particular building; at Jedburgh investigations were also hampered by the fragmentary state of the surviving structures. Nevertheless, an examination of the principal dimensions of Jedburgh Abbey, as revealed by the recent excavations, strongly suggests that a geometric grid, based on a unit of 5'6', and the limited application of a system of proportions were used to lay out the church and conventual buildings.
159 - 174
The abbey church was the principal focus of the community of Augustinian Canons at Jedburgh between 1138 and 1560, and it is also the most complete structure to survive on the site. This chapter provides an outline account of its architectural development as an aid to fuller appreciation of the context against which the excavations took place.
Records archaeological discoveries made in excavations in 1984 to the south of Jedburgh Abbey church, Roxburghshire, with discussion of the layout of the abbey and the architecture of the church. An introduction includes historical background, location, physiography, the abbey within the town, and repairs and excavations prior to 1984. The account of the excavations covers five main periods: I, pre-Augustinian activity (before c 1138); II, the building of the abbey (c 1138--c 1300); III, remodelling and rebuilding (c 1300--c 1480); IV, late repairs and alterations (c 1480--1559); and V, post-Reformation activity (1560--1875). The small finds comprise `Bone and ivory' (82--3), `Copper-alloy' (84--8), `Lead objects' (89--90) and `Iron objects' (91--3) all by David H Caldwell; `The comb, pendant and buckle' (83--4) by John Higgitt; `Lace tags: discussion' (88) and `Textiles' (114--5) both by Thea Gabra-Sanders; `Coins, tokens and jettons' by Nicholas McQ Holmes (93--8); `Ceramic material' by George Haggarty & Robert Will (98--105); `Stone sculpture' (105--10) and `Clay tobacco pipes' (115--16) both by Dennis Gallagher; `Window glass' (110--13) by C Pamela Graves; `Vessel glass' (113--4) by Robin Murdoch; and `Leather' (114) by Clare Thomas. `Human burials' (117--30) is by Richard Groves. After a discussion of the excavation results, the report concludes with `The layout of the abbey' (155--8) by Dennis Gallagher and `The architectural development of the abbey church' (159--74) by Richard Fawcett.