Repair work to start on Selkirk’s Auld Kirk ruin

Dr Chris Bowles and Colin Gilmour at the Auld Kirk
Dr Chris Bowles and Colin Gilmour at the Auld Kirk

Work on the Auld Kirk ruin in Selkirk, which will enable it to reopen to the public, will begin this week.

The building is identified as a priority repair project as part of the Selkirk Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) and the repairs to some of the walls of the historic kirk will be funded through the CARS programme.

At the end of last year a small area of the building collapsed, and for safety reasons it was closed to the public.

As well as rebuilding this area, the works, which should be complete by the end of March, will target other areas needing urgent repair.

Traditional hot lime mortar will be used by specialist local contractors to point the walls, and self-seeding foliage around the walls will also be removed.

A separate package of works to re-erect some of the headstones within the graveyard is being investigated by the Kirk O’ The Forest Heritage Group, a community group formed to promote enhancement and understanding of this key heritage asset.

Colin Gilmour, Selkirk CARS project officer, said: “With Selkirk CARS drawing to a close it is great to see so much activity in the town with repairs and improvements to many historic buildings which will secure them for many years to come.

“The repairs to the Auld Kirk have long been a priority for the programme and it is wonderful to finally see the hard work of many people bear fruit.

“The impact of the repairs to the Auld Kirk is even more satisfying as the package of works will hopefully allow the gates to the ruin to be reopened, providing both members of the local community and tourists safe access to this historic site.”

In 2016 a geophysics study uncovered what appeared to be the underground remains of a medieval church where William Wallace was likely to have been made Guardian of Scotland in 1297. Dr Chris Bowles, Scottish Borders Council’s archaeologist, commissioned the survey by the University of Durham in conjunction with Selkirk CARS.