At the end of July 2018, several members of the Ancrum & District & Heritage Society welcomed a number of TillVAS members to Ancrum to see some of the interesting archaeological remains in the area.
It was a beautiful warm day and we gathered at the village green at the remains of the Market Cross, moved from its original site, and now mounted on a stone-built plinth. Regular markets were held here from ca.1490.
We then walked through the village along a narrow track, once the main road into the village, to view the site of what is now agreed was probably the medieval “Bishop’s Palace”, also known as “Mantle Walls”, presently under a cereal crop. This was suspected to be the palace of Bishop de Bondington of Glasgow in 12thc. (who is known to have died in Ancrum) and appears as an ‘L’ shaped building on an old map from the 1770’s, but strangely, on no other map. An excavation was carried out by Glasgow University in 2012, who found stone foundations of a substantial building and the site is now scheduled.
We then drove a short distance to the old Kirkyard. The original kirk was built ca.1116, but no trace remains. The present Kirk was built in the 18th c. repaired in 1832 but abandoned in 1890 and now ruinous. Visible across the river and at the top of a steep hill are the remains of a ‘fort’, easier to access from the opposite side on another day.
The next stop was the “Monteath Mausoleum” a short drive further north and an outstanding monument, although not readily noticeable. This is the last resting place of General Sir Thomas Monteath Douglas, KCB (1787 – 1848) of Stonebyres in Lanarkshire, who married the only surviving daughter of Sir William Monteath Scott of Ancrum. From modest beginnings, he obtained a commission in the army and served with the Bengal 35th Infantry during the first Afghan War. At the end of his career and having no issue he commissioned the building of the mausoleum and it was completed by 1846, with the instructions that it was kept permanently locked, and a man was specially employed to oversee maintenance. Unfortunately over time the doors have been broken open and the interior vandalised but funds have been raised and a programme of works to restore the building is due to commence at the end of August this year.
After lunch at a nearby Garden Centre, our “borders raid” concluded with a visit to Monteviot House, the home of the Marquis of Lothian. A guided tour had been arranged and we enjoyed the lovely atmosphere of a lived in “big house”, with family photographs and the extensive collection of works of art by various well-known artists. There was still time for several of the party to visit the beautiful gardens before setting off for home.
Many thanks to everyone at Ancrum who made us very welcome and we hope to continue this friendship in the future.