History experts dig what’s under the ground in coastal town

Archeological dig near St Abbs Lighthouse to try to uncover some dwellings probably once owed by the Lighthouse Board. Volunteers l-r, Helen Gibson and Carrie Gibson from St Abbs.
Archeological dig near St Abbs Lighthouse to try to uncover some dwellings probably once owed by the Lighthouse Board. Volunteers l-r, Helen Gibson and Carrie Gibson from St Abbs.

More than 65 history enthusiasts turned out at St Abbs’ Head at the weekend for an archaeological dig to examine the remains of a 19th century signal station.

Groups of people of all ages joined Dr Daniel Rhodes, an archaeologist at the National Trust for Scotland, on Saturday and Sunday to find out about the history of the lives of those who ran the station as well as to take part in the dig themselves.

Archeological dig near St Abbs Lighthouse to try to uncover some dwellings probably once owed by the Lighthouse Board. Volunteer Carrie Gibson from St Abbs.

Archeological dig near St Abbs Lighthouse to try to uncover some dwellings probably once owed by the Lighthouse Board. Volunteer Carrie Gibson from St Abbs.

The excavation was part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 and the Border’s Heritage Festival which runs throughout September.

During the 1800’s a lighthouse, signal station and cottages stood at St Abbs head, however nothing of the signal station can be seen today.

Dr Daniel Rhodes said: “The opportunity to begin to understand what a potentially bustling little place St Abb’s Head could have been 100 to 200 years ago was too good to miss.

“It’s become clear that the site contains some substantial archaeological remains that can in future shed light on this important side of maritime history.

Daniel Rhodes, National Trust Scotland Archeologist.

Daniel Rhodes, National Trust Scotland Archeologist.

“Just as St Abb’s continues to play an important role in Scotland’s maritime culture today, it can also help us understand how communities lived in partnership with the sea in the past.”

Liza Cole, the National Trust for Scotland’s property manager and senior ranger naturalist at St Abb’s Head, added: “It was great to see so many folk, of all ages, interested in our Digging into the Past weekend.

“In total we had 65 people, aged from seven to 80, come up and see what we were up to, and 15 people decided to join in the dig itself, even though the weather was a bit challenging at times.

“We hope to make this a regular occurrence so that over the next few years we can really start to piece together the evidence that we find from successive digs and find out more about the lives of the people who manned the signal stations.”

Archeological dig near St Abbs Lighthouse to try to uncover some dwellings probably once owed by the Lighthouse Board.

Archeological dig near St Abbs Lighthouse to try to uncover some dwellings probably once owed by the Lighthouse Board.

At Coldingham, visitors will be able to see archaeology in action during the festival, as the Friends of Coldingham Priory, DigVentures and Durham University undertake a project to try and uncover the site of the 7th century Anglo-Saxon monastery of St Ebba.

That takes place on Saturday, September 30.

To find out more, visit scottishbordersheritage.com

Liza Cole, National Trust for Scotland Property Manager.

Liza Cole, National Trust for Scotland Property Manager.

Archeological dig near St Abbs Lighthouse to try to uncover some dwellings probably once owed by the Lighthouse Board. Daniel Rhodes, National Trust Scotland Archeologist.

Archeological dig near St Abbs Lighthouse to try to uncover some dwellings probably once owed by the Lighthouse Board. Daniel Rhodes, National Trust Scotland Archeologist.