Selkirk Castle Community Archaeology Project

SHBT are currently assisting The Haining Charitable Trust in building a sustainable future for The Haining, in Selkirk. As part of this project we are researching the estate and the Peel Hill castle site is one of the most exciting features of the landscape. With Northlight Heritage and the help of volunteers, we are attempting to piece together the history of the castle and find out what remains.IMG_4129-1_small.jpg

The motte and bailey castle at Peel Hill, Selkirk is an intriguing site.  We know that by AD 1119, an earthen and timber castle stood on what is probably a natural mound, and this was rebuilt by Edward I in 1301-2 during the Wars of Independence.  It fell to the Scots almost immediately.  By 1311 it was again in Edward’s hands, but by 1334 it appears to have fallen out of use or disappeared.  By the 18th century, the site had been incorporated into the designed landscape surrounding the Georgian house and later the Palladian mansion of The Haining. 

Within this basic framework of facts are many unknowns:  how the motte and bailey castle and subsequent pele tower were built and used, how they related to the medieval town of Selkirk, and how the development of the designed landscape may have helped shape the site.  There are also conservation management issues, with the trees and shrubs – some of which are planted features of the designed landscape – possibly having affected the buried archaeological remains.

This project will bring together volunteers from the Selkirk and wider community with archaeologists to investigate the site’s history and gather information to address some of its management needs.  


16 May and 23 May 2013


Surveyors from Northlight Heritage and Glasgow University will be surveying the site using a terrestrial laser scanner over several days in the second half of May.  This survey method will be used to create a highly detailed (sub-millimetre) model of the site’s contours, archaeological features and even the trees.  

3 – 4 August 2013


This weekend workshop will help volunteers piece together the documentary evidence for the history of Selkirk Castle and its environs, using a range of desk-based study methods.  Participants will learn to access and search online databases of archaeological sites, historic maps and documents, and will work through evidence for the history of the site and the wider landscape and townscape using these readily available sources.  

10 – 11 August 2013


Over the course of the weekend, volunteers and archaeologists will conduct a systematic, visual survey of the site of Selkirk Castle, in order to identify and record manmade features.  Participants will acquire skills in archaeological recording methods, and together we’ll build up a preliminary understanding of how the medieval castle functioned and how the designed landscape subsequently developed, based on the visible evidence.  

23 - 30 October 2013


An archaeological excavation will take place over the course of eight days.  Several small trenches will be excavated on top of the motte, in the area of the bailey (or outer enclosure) and at the location of the ditch to find out more about the preservation and character of archaeological deposits and assess the effects of the vegetation on them.  Volunteers will work alongside professional archaeologists and learn techniques of archaeological excavation, recording and interpretation, as well as give site tours to visiting members of the public. 

More information can be found on the Facebook page and Website.

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