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St Abb's Kirk,church and monastic remains,St Abb's Head

A Scheduled Monument in East Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.9114 / 55°54'41"N

Longitude: -2.1354 / 2°8'7"W

OS Eastings: 391635

OS Northings: 668712

OS Grid: NT916687

Mapcode National: GBR F0J2.HR

Mapcode Global: WH9XQ.5PF2

Entry Name: St Abb's Kirk,church and monastic remains,St Abb's Head

Scheduled Date: 6 October 1970

Last Amended: 30 November 1993

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2975

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Coldingham

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: East Berwickshire

Traditional County: Berwickshire


This rescheduling case arises indirectly from the RCAHMS list for Berwickshire District, through a report of an excavation on Kirk Hill, St Abb's carried out by Professor Alcock in 1980. The results of the excavation suggest that Kirk Hill, not St Abb's Nunnery, was the true location of St Abb's monastery (Coludesburh). Radiocarbon dates frm the excavation gave a calibrated date of 630-770AD for an enclosure on the hill. The monument on Kirk Hill which is scheduled is a Medieval church, graveyard, and out-building (probably priest's house). The area presently scheduled includes all three features and an area around them measuring a maximum of 100m E-W by 100m transversely.

The summit of Kirk Hill is relatively level with a low knoll roughly central to the plateau. To the SW the land falls away very steeply but less so to the NW and SE. To the NE are sheer cliffs to the sea. A rampart has been built on the lip of the plateau, around the NW, SW and SE sides to delimit and defend the site. There are two entrances through the rampart, at the NW beside the cliff-top, and at the SE approaching the site up a gully. About 10m S of the NW entrance the rampart bifurcates continuing towards the cliff-top as a double rampart. The rampart survives as a broad bank which is best preserved to the NW and SE. Along the SW side it has been damaged by erosion and rabbit burrows. At the SE end of the site, on a gentle slope towards the entrance are several rectangular house platforms. The monument measures c. 310m NW-SE by a maximum of c. 200m transversely. The location of the site, the rectangular house platforms and the results of the excavation (especially the radiocarbon dates) suggest that this site is a more likely candidate for Coludesburh that St Abb's Nunnery. The increase area to be proposed for scheduling includes the plateau, rampart, and an area around it in which traces of activity associated with the monastery's use will survive. The area respects the shape of the monument and measures 340m NW-SE by a maximum of 210m transversely.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it is a relatively undisturbed Early Christian monastery which has the potential to enhance considerably our understanding of the spread and development of Christianity in S Scotland. It is of particular importance because such sites are rare. Recent excavations at Whithorn have illustrated the great quantity and quality of archaeological information which can be recovered from sites of this period.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NT96NW 17

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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