Gorebridge castle receives some TLC

Volunteers from Gorebridge Community Development Trust and members of Archaeology Scotland start work conserving Newbyres Castle
Volunteers from Gorebridge Community Development Trust and members of Archaeology Scotland start work conserving Newbyres Castle

Last summer Newbryres castle was ‘adopted’ by the Adopt-a-Monument Scheme, run by Archaeology Scotland.

The first community volunteering day, led by Archaeology Scotland, was held last month to start conserving the remains of castle. Despite the miserable forecast the sun shone and more than 20 volunteers and archaeologists had a very enjoyable day, including a delicious home-made lunch served up by more volunteers in Gorebridge Community Development Trust’s office.

Newbryres Castle is 16th century L-plan, thee-storey tower house built by Michael Borthwick of Glengelt. He acquired the lands from James, Abbot of Newbattle in 1543 with the consent of Mary Queen of Scots, patroness of the abbey. It was bought by Sir James Dundas of Arniston in 1624 whose family went on to use the castle as a dower house. In 1993, the ruins were classed as a scheduled ancient monument by Historic Environment Scotland.

GCDT approached Archaeology Scotland last year for help and were delighted when they ‘adopted’ the ruin. Adopt-a-Monument is a nationwide community archaeology scheme that provides practical advice, training and help raising funds.

The volunteers included archaeology students from Edinburgh University and a group from Midlothian CAT (Community Access Team) as well as people from Gorebridge. The task of the day was to remove all the vegetation from around the ruined keep without disturbing the stones themselves.

The next stage will be to have an archaeological survey done, clear away some of the rubble and consolidate the ruins that remain. This will be done in partnership with Archaeology Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland as well as Midlothian Council, who own the land.

Finally, the trust intends to landscape the area and hopes to add two features – a small amphitheatre for groups, such as local primary schools, to use and a small timber tower relating to the original 16th century tower and built with the help of the community in a similar way to Wooploft, a large treehouse, built with Tynewater primary school pupils in 2013.

GCDT will be running further volunteering days that will have an educational aspect included such as conservation workshops and historical talks.