Coldingham Priory project goes live
A long awaited scheme for the conservation and interpretation of Coldingham Priory ruins, and the creation of a community garden within the grounds, will start imminently.
This important, and much needed, project has been developed by a partnership including Tweed Forum, the Friends of Coldingham Priory, Scottish Borders Council and the Adopt-a-Monument Scheme from Archaeology Scotland. Nearly half a million pounds has been raised from a range of different sources including the Heritage Lottery fund, Historic Scotland, Scottish Borders Council and SNH.
Luke Comins of Tweed Forum, who is coordinating the project, said ‘This marks the culmination of many years work to help save this very important heritage asset as well as realising the aspirations of the local people.’
The partnership has recently appointed an architect and contractors are in the process of being selected to carry out the work. The first stage will be the landscaping of the Community Garden later in January.
Julia Carter from the Friends of the Priory said, ‘The garden will reflect its historic setting with planting of flowering shrubs and small, old varieties of fruit trees where the monks would have grown fruit, vegetables, medicinal herbs and kept bees. These areas will attract butterflies and the local primary school will also use it as an eco-resource. A circular stone seat with the cross of St Cuthbert marked out in Caithness stone will be a central feature.’
Coldingham Priory has been called the Cinderella of the Border abbeys and whilst the restored choir is in incorporated in the still used medieval church, the ruins around about are in urgent need of consolidation as they are crumbling and collapsing in places. Whilst a very significant structure in its day there is little to bring its scale and importance alive and the planned interpretation will rectify this.
The planned conservation measures will include the careful consolidation of the ruined structures and the special treatment of the unique and unusual collection of carved stones.
A series of educational workshops and other activities for children and adults will take place alongside the conservation work. The first is to be a local history event in on the 24th January when members of the public will be invited to search their cupboards for old maps, photos, drawings or other mementoes of the Priory or village history.
The Benedictine Priory dates from the reign of King David 1, as with many Borders Abbeys, and is probably the successor to an earlier Anglo-Saxon monastery in the area. The monks whose mother house was Durham Cathedral also enjoyed the patronage of Scottish kings. In the eleven and twelve hundreds the Priory was given so much land, mainly by royal charters that its estates were called Coldinghamshire. They reached from the Berwick boundaries nearly to Co’path and from the coastline inland to Paxton, Swinton and Ednam. The monks were men of business who gathered in rents, traded in wool, hides and corn and held civil courts. They had contacts in Europe both with the church authorities in Rome and with merchants in Italy and the Netherlands for the export of wool through the port of Berwick. They gave hospitality to travellers and pilgrims and tended the sick. Markets and fairs were held in the village near the Priory gates. As such it was the centre of all local economic, political, social and religious life and the focus of any literate activity where books were read and written.
Tweed Forum is a charitable trust with aim of enhancing conserving and enhancing the natural, built and cultural heritage of the Tweed catchment.
Archaeology Scotland is an Edinburgh-based charity that works to secure Scotland’s archaeological heritage for its people through education, promotion and support.
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