Issue: The origins of settlements at Kelso and Peebles, Scottish Borders archaeological excavations in Wester and Easter Kelso and Cuddyside/Bridgegate, Peebles by the Border Burghs Archaeology Project and the Scottish Urban Archaeological Trust, 1983--1994

Publication Type
Abstract This is a report on archaeological work in two of Scotland's less well-known medieval burghs of Kelso and Peebles. The excavations at Wester Kelso/Floors Castle established that the original medieval burgh of Kelso or Wester Kelso was much further west than previously believed, being situated well inside the present Castle policies. That early settlement at Wester Kelso appears to have been abandoned in the 14th or 15th centuries, at the same time that the royal burgh of Roxburgh was deserted, probably as a result of the English occupation of Roxburgh Castle. The other settlement of Easter Kelso, near the abbey, survived and expanded northwards from the abbey along Roxburgh Street. The finding of a possible building terrace in Phase 1 at 13-19 Roxburgh Street indicates that settlement along the southern end of that street could date to as early as the 13th or 14th centuries. Combining the archaeological, cartographic and documentary evidence, it seems clear that 'Easter' Kelso, now Kelso, had expanded from the market area around tThis is a report on archaeological work in two of Scotland's less well-known medieval burghs of Kelso and Peebles. The excavations at Wester Kelso/Floors Castle established that the original medieval burgh of Kelso or Wester Kelso was much further west than previously believed, being situated well inside the present Castle policies. That early settlement at Wester Kelso appears to have been abandoned in the 14th or 15th centuries, at the same time that the royal burgh of Roxburgh was deserted, probably as a result of the English occupation of Roxburgh Castle. The other settlement of Easter Kelso, near the abbey, survived and expanded northwards from the abbey along Roxburgh Street. The finding of a possible building terrace in Phase 1 at 13-19 Roxburgh Street indicates that settlement along the southern end of that street could date to as early as the 13th or 14th centuries. Combining the archaeological, cartographic and documentary evidence, it seems clear that 'Easter' Kelso, now Kelso, had expanded from the market area around the abbey northwards towards the Floors estate by the early 18th century.<br /><br />The excavations in Peebles have provided important information on the origins of the settlement of the peninsular ridge between the Tweed and Eddleston Water. The results obtained from the excavations at the two sites in Peebles indicate that settlement of the ridge began in the 12th century, soon after the establishment of the royal castle and burgh by David I (1124-53). At both sites, after initial dumping of rubbish, possibly to raise the ground level to counter flooding, occupation, in the form of stone structures, can be dated to the 14th century at the latest, with probable earlier dumping of domestic refuse in the 12th and 13th centuries. The street of Bridgegate was apparently laid out in the 13th or 14th centuries when the excavated site was divided into three properties aligned on that street, two of which had stone buildings erected on them. Alternatively, Bridgegate may have been the initial focus of settlement on the east side of the Eddleston, providing the access route from the east into Old Town, where a pilgrimage centre had been established at the Cross Kirk in 1261, and the location of the tolbooth (Bridgegate Building 4) in it suggests that this street was originally more important than High Street. It is noteworthy that all eight medieval buildings excavated at the two Peebles sites were of stone construction. Peebles tolbooth, the civic centre of the burgh, is the only medieval tolbooth site in Scotland to have been excavated.
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Author Piers J Dixon
James R Mackenzie
David Perry
Paul Sharman
Editor Colin R W Wallace
Publisher Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Other Person/Org Donald Bateson (Author contributing)
Adrian Cox (Author contributing)
Amanda Crowdy (Author contributing)
Barbara Ford (Author contributing)
Dennis B Gallagher (Author contributing)
Derek W Hall (Author contributing)
D Henderson (Author contributing)
Brian Moffatt (Author contributing)
Catherine Smith (Author contributing)
Paul Spoerry (Author contributing)
D H Tarling (Author contributing)
Caroline R Wickham-Jones (Author contributing)
Year of Publication 2003
Volume 2
ISBN 0 903903 71 7
Subjects / Periods
BIAB: Burghs
Medieval
Note Is Portmanteau: 1
Source DigitalBorn
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Abstract
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This is a report on archaeological work in two of Scotland's less well-known medieval burghs of Kelso and Peebles. The excavations at Wester Kelso/Floors Castle established that the original medieval burgh of Kelso or Wester Kelso was much further west than previously believed, being situated well inside the present Castle policies. That early settlement at Wester Kelso appears to have been abandoned in the 14th or 15th centuries, at the same time that the royal burgh of Roxburgh was deserted, probably as a result of the English occupation of Roxburgh Castle. The other settlement of Easter Kelso, near the abbey, survived and expanded northwards from the abbey along Roxburgh Street. The finding of a possible building terrace in Phase 1 at 13-19 Roxburgh Street indicates that settlement along the southern end of that street could date to as early as the 13th or 14th centuries. Combining the archaeological, cartographic and documentary evidence, it seems clear that 'Easter' Kelso, now Kelso, had expanded from the market area around tThis is a report on archaeological work in two of Scotland's less well-known medieval burghs of Kelso and Peebles. The excavations at Wester Kelso/Floors Castle established that the original medieval burgh of Kelso or Wester Kelso was much further west than previously believed, being situated well inside the present Castle policies. That early settlement at Wester Kelso appears to have been abandoned in the 14th or 15th centuries, at the same time that the royal burgh of Roxburgh was deserted, probably as a result of the English occupation of Roxburgh Castle. The other settlement of Easter Kelso, near the abbey, survived and expanded northwards from the abbey along Roxburgh Street. The finding of a possible building terrace in Phase 1 at 13-19 Roxburgh Street indicates that settlement along the southern end of that street could date to as early as the 13th or 14th centuries. Combining the archaeological, cartographic and documentary evidence, it seems clear that 'Easter' Kelso, now Kelso, had expanded from the market area around the abbey northwards towards the Floors estate by the early 18th century.\r\n\r\nThe excavations in Peebles have provided important information on the origins of the settlement of the peninsular ridge between the Tweed and Eddleston Water. The results obtained from the excavations at the two sites in Peebles indicate that settlement of the ridge began in the 12th century, soon after the establishment of the royal castle and burgh by David I (1124-53). At both sites, after initial dumping of rubbish, possibly to raise the ground level to counter flooding, occupation, in the form of stone structures, can be dated to the 14th century at the latest, with probable earlier dumping of domestic refuse in the 12th and 13th centuries. The street of Bridgegate was apparently laid out in the 13th or 14th centuries when the excavated site was divided into three properties aligned on that street, two of which had stone buildings erected on them. Alternatively, Bridgegate may have been the initial focus of settlement on the east side of the Eddleston, providing the access route from the east into Old Town, where a pilgrimage centre had been established at the Cross Kirk in 1261, and the location of the tolbooth (Bridgegate Building 4) in it suggests that this street was originally more important than High Street. It is noteworthy that all eight medieval buildings excavated at the two Peebles sites were of stone construction. Peebles tolbooth, the civic centre of the burgh, is the only medieval tolbooth site in Scotland to have been excavated.
1
The main aim of the project was to carry out excavations in Kelso and Jedburgh at sites which were due to be developed. Excavations were also carried out in Eyemouth, Stow and Peebles. Reports on excavations in Jedburgh, Bishop's Palace. Stowe and springwood Park have been produced separately.
David Perry
2 - 5
Details of location and topography are presented. A review of the historical background commences in 1128 when the Tironesian abbey at Selkirk was transferred to 'Calchou' on the banks of the river Tweed. At this point the town of Kelso became one of the abbey's endowments. There is also a brief account of the urban development of Kelso. The only previous excavations were carried out in the abbey precincts in 1971 and 1975.
Piers J Dixon
David Perry
6 - 27
A brief account of existing documentary evidence is presented. This is followed by a phased archaeological description. There are eight phases commencing in the later medieval period continuing into the early 20th century. This excavation has provided evidence that 13-19 Roxburgh Street was within the occupied area of the settlement of Easter Kelso from the 13th and 14th centuries, with evidence of wells, a possible building platform parallel to the modern street, and pits for both rubbish and quarrying. In addition the corn-drying kiln is indicative of an open yard area behind the street frontage during the 16th century, if not earlier. Such activity does not distinguish it as being urban or rural, since kilns have been encountered in both urban and rural locations. The infilling of the backlands of the building plots during the 18th and 19th centuries indicates the main period or urban expansion, but activity in the 17th century suggests that there may be continual occupation of the site from the medieval period onwards.
Paul Sharman
David Perry
28 - 35
A brief documentary history and summary of excavation methodology is followed by a detailed archaeological description. Three phases of activity wee identified (pre-dating, contemporary with and post-dating the 18th- or 19th-century building), the earliest phase can be sub-divided into three or four phases. Finds from phase 1 include pottery and clay pipe fragments dating to the 17th-19th century but it is possible that some of the deposits and features could be earlier. Two residual medieval sherds were found during the excavation.
Piers J Dixon
David Perry
36 - 49
The excavations suggest that the medieval burgh of Wester Kelso was indeed in the grounds of Floors Castle, but nearer the Tweed (Trench 3), not inside the gates at the north-west end of Roxburgh Street (Trenches 1 and 2). Trench 1 produced no evidence of medieval occupation, or any post-medieval occupation either, apart from a ditch, possibly a boundary ditch pre-dating the formation of the park in the late 18th century. Trench 2 produced evidence of occupation beside a cobbled road. This occupation relates to the post-medieval expansion northwards along Roxburgh Street, from the abbey and market area at the southern end of the settlement of (Easter) Kelso; it is not the remains of the medieval burgh of Wester Kelso.
David Perry
50 - 52
Evidence of settlement activity in the vicinity dates back to the prehistoric period but it is not know when it began in Peebles itself. There is some evidence to suggest an early Christian centre prior to the foundation of the royal burgh under David I in the 12th century. The excavations to be described covered three properties in Bridgegate, one of which was described a document of 1487/8. Previously a small excavation was carried out on the site of the castle in 1977.
Piers J Dixon
David Perry
53 - 74
It was hoped that the excavation would reveal information on the tolbooth of Peebles, which is supposed to have occupied various sites within the burgh, including the westernmost plot in the north side of Bridgegate. It was also possible that the Bridgegate site might reveal part of the 16th-century town wall and, perhaps, the remains of the barmkin defence of the Bridgegate Port. The excavation was successful in confirming the site of the tollbooth. No trace of the town wall, which on documentary grounds is thought to run along Cuddyside, was revealed, nor any of the predecessors to these defences, the Bridgegate Port and its barmkin. The other important aspect of the site was the opportunity to examine three properties on a main thoroughfare of the royal burgh, especially the opportunity to examine a street frontage, which had not been disturbed by cellars. It is the location of substantial stone-built medieval houses (Buildings 1-5) which makes this excavation of particular value in our understanding of medieval urban landscapes.
James R Mackenzie
75 - 83
The archaeological sequence has been divided into seven separate phases of activity spanning some 600-800 years. Each phase represents a distinct change of activity on the site. The phases are as follows: phase 1 - dumping, flooding and hillwash (12th-15th century); phase 2 - medieval development; phase 3 - drainage; phase 4 - imported soils; phase 5 - late medieval development; phase 6 - 18th- and 19th-century landscaping; and phase 7 - 20th century.
Derek W Hall
Amanda Crowdy
84 - 106
An assemblage of 6633 sherds derived from the excavations at Kelso and were mostly post-medieval with the exception of an important medieval group from Wester Kelso/Floors Castle, Trench 3. This included White Gritty Ware in a sealed context and associated with continental imports which have provided important dating evidence. A smaller assemblage of 2292 sherds was found in Peebles, and, again White Gritty Ware was the most common type. This was also the case for the small assemblage of 411 sherds from Cuddyside. The material fills an important gap in the study of medieval Scottish ceramics and specialists are now in a position to attempt an overview of Scotland's earliest native industry. The outstanding problem is the lack of kiln sites.
Barbara Ford
Adrian Cox
Dennis B Gallagher
Caroline R Wickham-Jones
J D Bateson
107 - 125
Artefacts from the excavations are described and discussed below. For each burgh, the artefacts report begins with brief summaries of the assemblage from each excavation. Following this is a select catalogue of the artefacts, organised by material and artefact type. Finds from the Kelso excavations are discussed together, whereas finds from Bridgegate and Cuddyside are discussed separately. The finds include personal items, textile equipment, lithics, clay pipes and coins. Materials comprise copper alloy, gold, lead alloy, iron, bone. glass ceramic building material and a leather offcut.
Chris E Smith
David Henderson
126 - 130
The animal bones from these three Borders sites have shown that assumptions based on material from urban excavations in the north-east of Scotland do not necessarily hold true for every other Scottish site. This is particularly so for the evidence from medieval and post-medieval phases at Bridgegate, Peebles, where sheep bones dominated over those of cattle. Thus far, discussions of the pattern of animal exploitation in the medieval and post-medieval periods have relied on results from north-easterly sites, mainly towns, and have concluded that the economy relied more heavily on cattle that on sheep. The bones from Peebles proved the evidence to show that sheep, the producers of wool and thence textiles, play a far more important role that cattle in the Borders region.
B Moffat
Chris E Smith
G Armstrong
131 - 136
This section comprises specialist reports on charred cereal residues from a corn-drying kiln at 13-19 Roxburgh Street, Kelso along with analysis of wood and organics, plant remains from building A at Wester Kelso/Floors Castle, Trench 3, a stone-lined pit in Trench 3 and coal samples from Roxburgh Street.
David Perry
137 - 139
The excavations in Kelso and Peebles reported on here have successfully established the nature of the survival of the archaeological remains in these two less well known medieval Border burghs and provided information on their development. The results have shown that in both Kelso and Peebles much archaeological information can be retrieved on their medieval and post-medieval origins and growth, even in areas previously thought to have little significance in the burghs. Any future development in either burgh should provide an opportunity to further study their origins and growth in the medieval and post-medieval periods. To understand the complexities of urban growth, some of the less well known burghs such as Kelso and Peebles must be studied alongside the better known ones such as Perth and Aberdeen.
D H Tarling
140 - 141
Heated stones from the floor of a late medieval corn-drying kiln were examined. The 95% confidence circles intersect the curve for the last half of the 16th century.
Paul Spoerry
142 - 144
The primary aim was to indicate the best places for excavation with known areas of archaeological interest.
145 - 148
149 - 157
158 - 160
This is a report on archaeological work in two of Scotland's less well-known medieval burghs -- Kelso and Peebles. The excavations at Wester Kelso/Floors Castle established that the original medieval burgh of Kelso or Wester Kelso was much further west than previously believed, being situated well inside the present Castle policies. That early settlement at Wester Kelso appears to have been abandoned in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, at the same time that the royal burgh of Roxburgh was deserted, probably as a result of the English occupation of Roxburgh Castle. The other settlement of Easter Kelso, near the abbey, survived and expanded northwards from the abbey along Roxburgh Street. The finding of a possible building terrace in Phase 1 at 13--19 Roxburgh Street indicates that settlement along the southern end of that street could date to as early as the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries. Combining the archaeological, cartographic and documentary evidence, it seems clear that 'Easter' Kelso, now Kelso, had expanded from the market area around the abbey northwards towards the Floors estate by the early-eighteenth century. The excavations in Peebles have provided important information on the origins of the settlement of the peninsula ridge between the Tweed and Eddleston Water. The results obtained from the excavations at the two sites in Peebles indicate that settlement of the ridge began in the twelfth century, soon after the establishment of the royal castle and burgh by David I (1124--53). At both sites, after initial dumping of rubbish, possibly to raise the ground level to counter flooding, occupation, in the form of stone structures, can be dated to the fourteenth century at the latest, with probable earlier dumping of domestic refuse in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The street of Bridgegate was apparently laid out in the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries when the excavated site was divided into three properties aligned on that street, two of which had stone buildings erected on them. Alternatively, Bridgegate may have been the initial focus of settlement on the east side of the Eddleston, providing the access route from the east into Old Town, where a pilgrimage centre had been established at the Cross Kirk in 1261, and the location of the tolbooth (Bridgegate Building 4) in it suggests that this street was originally more important than High Street. It is noteworthy that all eight medieval buildings excavated at the two Peebles sites were of stone construction. Peebles tolbooth, the civic centre of the burgh, is the only medieval tolbooth site in Scotland to have been excavated. The medieval pottery imports recovered at Wester Kelso show that the burgh's origins date to the twelfth century, soon after the transfer of the Tironensian abbey from Selkirk to Kelso. The pottery finds also suggest that Wester Kelso was deserted in the fourteenth century or soon after. At Peebles Bridgegate, the presence of similar material, although residual, hints that occupation on the south and east side of the Eddleston Water could also have begun as early. The results of the excavations have shown that in both Kelso and Peebles much archaeological information can be retrieved on their medieval and post-medieval origins and growth, even in areas of the burghs previously thought to have little significance. All specialist reports can be accessed via the report contents section at: http://www.sair.org.uk/sair2/index.html (the following page numbers refer to the Adobe Acrobat .pdf document available online):