Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

RCAHMS Inventory: Roxburghshire

Date June 1931 - March 1955

Event ID 1086870

Category Project

Type Project


'We, Your Majesty's Commissioners, appointed to make an Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions connected with or illustrative of the contemporary culture, civilisation, and conditions of life of the people in Scotland from the earliest times to the year 1707, and of such further Monuments and Constructions of a date subsequent to that year as may seem in our discretion worthy of mention therein, and to specify those which seem most worthy of preservation, humbly present to Your Majesty this our Fourteenth Report, together with an Inventory of the ancient monuments of Roxburghshire, and a list of those which, in our opinion, are most worthy of preservation.

We desire to acknowledge the welcome assistance in the preparation of the Roxburghshire Inventory given us by owners and occupiers of historic buildings and sites throughout the County. Of those who contributed to this work, the foremost was our late colleague, Mr. James Curle, LL.D., W.S., particularly in respect of Melrose Abbey and of the Roman fort at Newstead. In addition we owe special thanks to the late Sir W. de L. Aitchison, Bt., M.A, F.S.A., for much practical assistance in the field-survey; to Mr. J. K. St. Joseph, M.A., Ph.D., F.S.A., for collaboration in field-work both on the ground and by means of aerial photography and observations; to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, the Christianbury Trust, and Mrs. C. M. Piggott, F.S.A., for excavation and research work on sites of especial importance for the purposes of this Inventory; to Mr. D. L. Macintyre, V.C., and the staff, present and retired, of the Ministry of Works, Edinburgh, particularly Mr. J. S. Richardson, LL.D., H.R.S.A., Mr. J. Wilson Paterson, C.V.O., M.B.E., A.R.I.B.A., and Mr. Alexander Graham; to the Department of Health for Scotland, for facilities for the study of air-photographs; to the Geological Survey of Great Britain, Edinburgh, and especially Mr. A. G. McGregor, M.C., D.Sc., and Mr. R. J. A. Eckford, for advice on geological problems; to the Cambridge University, Committee for Aerial Photography, for permission to reproduce air-photographs; to Sir. T. Innes of Learney and Kinnairdy, K.C.V.O., Lord Lyon King of Arms, who kindly revised the heraldic items in the Inventory; to the late Sir Francis J. Grant, K.C.V.O., LL.D., W.S., formerly Lord Lyon King of Arms, for advice on heraldic matters; to Mr. H. M. Paton, formerly Curator of Historical Records at Your Majesty's General Register House, and Mr. C. T. McInnes, the present holder of that appointment, for advice on records; to Mr. C. A. Ralegh Radford, M.A., F.S.A., for a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the Anglian sculpture at Jedburgh; to Mr. J. Byres, Newcastleton, for much valuable information about Liddesdale; and to Mr. A. R. B. Haldane, D.Litt., W.S., who made available the results of his research on drove roads. We also wish to record our gratitude to the late Mr. C. J. P. Cave, M.A., F.S.A., who permitted us to take prints, for our archives, from his large collection of photographs of carved Scottish roof-bosses, some of which are utilised in this Inventory.

In the amplitude and importance of its results, the present survey has far outrun its predecessors. Not only does Roxburghshire contain three of the famous Border Abbeys, but it has also proved to be very rich in monuments of the prehistoric periods and of the Dark Ages. Some interesting new Roman remains have likewise been discovered. It has been possible to make so full a record of the earthwork monuments, many of which are scarcely visible--or even invisible-to observers on the ground, by means of aerial photographs and the new technique of interpreting them. As a result we have been able to prepare an Inventory which is much more nearly complete than any other as yet produced.

Apart from those buildings which are under the guardianship of the Ministry of Works, the general condition of the monuments is unsatisfactory. All the factors that make for deterioration, as set forth in the report of the Committee on Houses of Outstanding Historic or Architectural Importance (1950), are actively at work on the castles and houses that are still in a habitable state, while many of the unroofed or ruinous structures have become distinctly more dilapidated even since our officers first saw them. Earthworks and forts, apart from those which are situated on unprofitable hill-tops, are subject to constant attrition through ploughing, drainage and other forms of rural exploitation , and this process must be expected to extend as more land is made available for production of food or timber. Believing that vigorous measures should be taken at once to record and, where appropriate, to investigate monuments which must necessarily be thus destroyed during the next few years, we postponed, at the end of 1950, our normal programme of field-work on County Inventories in favour of an emergency survey of marginal lands in all parts of Scotland where an early expansion of agriculture or forestry may be expected. The requisite complement to this survey is a campaign of test excavations, but for this we have at present neither the funds nor the personnel.

We greatly regret to record the deaths, which occurred in 1952, of two of the Commissioners, Mr. W. Mackay Mackenzie, H.R.S.A., LL.D., D.Litt., and Mr. R. F. J. Fairlie, R.S.A., LL.D., F.R.I.B.A., F.R.S.E., and the resignation, on grounds of age and ill-health, of Mr. A. O. Curle, C.V.O., LL.D., F.S.A., W.S. Dr. Mackenzie became Secretary to the Commission in 1913, retired in 1935 and was appointed a Commissioner in 1943, while Dr. Fairlie had served as a Commissioner since 1938. Dr. Curle served from 1908 to 1913 as the Commission's first Secretary, organising the work from its outset and making the initial surveys single-handed, and then as a Commissioner from 1913 to 1951. We humbly thank Your Majesty for the appointment of Mr. Ian G. Lindsay, A.R.S.A., F.R.I.B.A., of Professor W. Croft Dickinson, M.C., D.Litt., LL.D., and of Mr. G. P. H. Watson, M.B.E., F.R.I.B.A. (retired), R.S.W., to fill the vacancies.


Edinburgh, March 1st, 1955'.

People and Organisations