Pupils enjoy helping out in Bedrule dig

More than 120 primary and secondary schoolchildren from seven schools across the Borders took part in the first exploratory excavation at Bedrule Castle recently.

Schoolkids participate in the archaeological dig.
Schoolkids participate in the archaeological dig.

The separate workshops, held over three days, generated a huge amount of interest amongst the pupils from Berwickshire, Earlston, Galashiels, Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso and Newcastleton, as well as a large group of adult helpers keen to learn new skills in caring for our heritage.

Bedrule Castle was one of "The Twelve Towers of Rule" burnt in September 1545 during the Rough Wooing. It had been a major medieval castle, and this exploration and excavation project aims to unpack more of its history and the lives of the people of Rulewater.

The Bedrule project kicks off the first phase of the much larger Twelve Towers of Rule project initiated and coordinated by the Scottish Borders National Park team, whose chair Professor Jane Bower, said: "Over the ten days, the teams of schoolchildren and adult volunteers opened four trenches across the site in order to characterise and evaluate its archaeology.”

Kieran Manchip from Archaeology Scotland added: “One of the main takeaways from the excavation is that the medieval phases of the site appear to be buried under a fair bit of rubble, with most of the well-cut stone having been taken from the site, likely for use in the cottages, manse, church, or schoolhouse.

“Trench 2 was the most fruitful and we think we may have found the remains of a spiral staircase that may have stood at the south-west corner of a roughly square-shaped building, some of which has been ploughed out on the other side of the modern boundary wall.”

“Some very poorly preserved pottery was found sitting on the flat surface created by the larger flat stones. We’ll get this cleaned up the best we can and get it off to a specialist who may be able to give us a rough estimation of how old it is. Also a nice spindle whorl also came out of this trench on Day 1, and for which we hope to get an estimation of date.”

These workshops, an earlier one on archaeological illustration, and further events focusing on archaeological mapping (on November 30), interpreting the results of the excavations (January 15), and engaging the public (in February) are being organised and run by Archaeology Scotland.

For more information or to reserve a place, please email [email protected]