Community archeology project

Edin's Hall Broch, near Duns.
Edin's Hall Broch, near Duns.

A large-scale community archeology project has been launched to investigate the history of a key route linking the Merse and the Lothians.

The community-led project will study the upper Whiteadder valley between Duns in Berwickshire and the village of Garvald in East Lothian, the aim being to create an app and website to bring it to life as part of a heritage trail.

Funding for the project, which is being managed by Scottish Borders Council’s archaeology service, includes £205,000 from LEADER, £30,000 from wind farm developer contributions and £25,000 from the Fallago Environment Fund.

In addition to accessing existing 3D laser scanning data on the area, new scanning will be carried out and eight sites have been identified for excavation this summer.

Dr Chris Bowles, Scottish Borders Council archaeologist, said: “The area between Duns and Garvald, which follows much of the Whiteadder Water, is littered with historical sites, from the more well-known ones such as Edin’s Hall Broch and Abbey St Bathans Priory to those of less prominence, including various stone circles, hill forts and historic farmsteads.

“Limited archaeological work has happened at some of these sites, so this new project is a great opportunity for us to find out a lot more about what was going on in this area from prehistoric times through to the Roman period.”

Stephanie Leith, heritage officer at East Lothian Council added: “This is a unique opportunity for the communities of Berwickshire and East Lothian to come together to explore our shared history going back to prehistoric times.

“The area is quite rural and this project will bring local people together, helping tackle social isolation, and they will play a key role in identifying and excavating sites.”

AOC Archaeology are project managers and for information on how to get involved contact jessica.lumb@aocarchaeology.com or 0131 440 3593.

Councillor Tom Miers, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for planning and environment, said: “This is a fascinating project which will hopefully leave a lasting legacy that will benefit the economy of the area by encouraging more visitors to explore what was once an important route between the Lothians and the Merse.”

“I’d like to thank the funders for their help in making it happen.

“A number of community organisations have already expressed an interest in getting involved, and I’d encourage anyone else who is keen to find out more or play their part in supporting the project to get in touch with the newly appointed project manager.”

Jane Rosegrant, chair of the Scottish Borders LEADER Local Action Group, added: “This is a really exciting project for one of the least explored and most rural areas of the Borders and East Lothian. Relatively little is known of the history of the beautiful Whiteadder valley and this project offers not only the opportunity for people to learn more about their history and the landscape but it also offers a really exciting chance through the use of citizen-science for people to discover important sites themselves. LEADER is delighted to fund such an interesting project in co-operation with Tyne-Esk LEADER.”

Gareth Baird, chairman, Fallago Environment Fund, said: “Our support for the Whiteadder project, with its emphasis on encouraging social interaction, exploration, enjoyment and learning, is an ideal way for the Fallago Environment Fund to achieve its aim of enhancing the region’s built, natural and cultural environment. We’re delighted that we’re able to share the benefits of the Fallago Rig Windfarm in such a positive way.”