Body hunt at Newtongrange site of new homes

Local historian Jim Green, Mayfield and Easthosues Community Council chairman Robert Hogg and Newtongrange Community Council chairman Jason Ferry
Local historian Jim Green, Mayfield and Easthosues Community Council chairman Robert Hogg and Newtongrange Community Council chairman Jason Ferry

The council has agreed to investigate the possibility of buried bodies at a historically significant site earmarked for new homes.

Slorach Wood has applied to build 13 flats and five two-storey terraced homes at ‘Bryans Farm Corner’ between Morris Road and Bryans Road.

Pressure was put on the council to check whether or not bodies are buried under the site after it emerged that the medieval Bryans Chapel once stood there.

Now the council has promised to carry out survey work on the site should planning permission be granted.

Local historian Jim Green had written to the council about the matter. He told the Advertiser: “Medieval churches invariably had burial grounds, it would be very unusual for it not to have a burial ground. It’s almost a certainty that the Bryans Chapel was there on that site.

“It’s of historical significance. To all intents and purposes it’s part of local history and culture.

“Lets put it this way. If it had been anywhere else like Edinburgh then this would be looked at right away.

“I don’t know how big Bryans Chapel was but it was important to local history.”

A council spokesman said: “If the planning authority grants planning permission, it’s likely we’ll require survey work to be carried out before development work begins. If items of archaeological significance, including human remains, or other ground-breaking operations are found, these will have to be recorded.”

It is believed that Bryans Chapel was built in the 12th or 13th century. In 1320, the chapel and lands of Maisterton were given to the monks of Newbattle Abbey. It remained under the abbacy of Newbattle until the reformation in 1560, when it passed into the hands of Mark Ker, the last abbot and first Lord of Newbattle. The chapel is referred to a number of times in testaments from the mid 16th to 19th centuries.

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