The first excavation of Selkirk’s 1,000-year-old castle begins in two weeks, with volunteers invited to help overturn town history.
The Selkirk Castle Community Archaeology Project, guided by archeologists from Northlight Heritage, aims to question treasured, old beliefs.
The ruins of the 11th-14th century ‘motte and bailey’, first built by William the Conqueror to control the valleys, and later refortified by Edward I to counter William Wallace’s raids from the Ettrick Forest, lie hidden by woodlands within the Haining Estate.
Council archaeology officer Dr Chris Bowles said the object is, “first, to find evidence of the castle and its inhabitants, and second, to study the effects of the woodlands that have grown on top of the archeology.”
This summer, a ‘walkover survey’ yielded a 3D map of the site’s humps and bumps for the October dig to investigate. Small trenches will be excavated atop the motte to find any building within the bailey, as well as in the ramparts and ditches. Volunteers will be sifting beside archaeologists, learning their techniques, recording and interpretation, and giving site tours to curious members of the public.
“So far, some traditional conclusions espoused by Selkirk historian Craig Brown don’t stand up to scrutiny, and have to be altered,” said the project’s Dr Lindsay Neil, who researched historical documents to help interpret any discoveries.
“Selkirk’s abbey, when founded, was probably in the Kilncroft area,” he said; “and David I’s removal of the abbey to Kelso is not an enduring puzzle, but merely for protection.”