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Book chapter

Prehistoric pottery

4 April 2014


Excavations and surveys adjacent to Hirsel House, Coldstream, have revealed a remarkably detailed history of a proprietory church and its cemetery for a period when the parochial structure in Scotland was in course of development, and when very little is known about the fate of estate churches after they were donated to support the newly founded monasteries of the 12th century. The church is set in a landscape with evidence for settlement from the Neolithic to the establishment of Hirsel House, the seat of the Earl of Home. Here, in an estate the boundaries of which has changed very little since the Middle Ages, a small unicellular drystone structure developed into a well-built Romanesque church with a rare example of its bell founding structure intact. The subsequent history when the church was burnt, robbed of stone and used for domestic purposes, then finally destroyed and covered over in the late Middle Ages is graphically illustrated by the wealth of artefacts from the site. There are traces of other medieval buildings to the north of the site and the cemetery –one of the largest rural cemeteries in Scotland– provides an interesting range of burial modes, as well as, together with the environmental evidence from the site, an insight into the community which the church and cemetery served.


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