Midlothian’s 100 Objects - Newbattle ice house and bridge

The grotto, ice house and grotto bridge at Newbattle Abbey House, Midlothian. Photo: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland/Scran

The grotto, ice house and grotto bridge at Newbattle Abbey House, Midlothian. Photo: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland/Scran

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This photo shows the iron and wood bridge over the River South Esk which leads to a 17th-century arched stone grotto within the grounds of Newbattle Abbey College.

The grotto is decorated by fluted pilasters and key stone, and a dentilled frieze carved with emblems and initials.

The grotto hides the entrance to an ice house with an egg-shaped pit. This would be filled with ice in winter and used for storing meat and other perishables.

The trestle-style girder bridge has open cross-braced parapets to protect people using the ice house and grotto.

Wooden decking is laid over the iron framework to create a roadway for carts to approach the ice house to collect foodstuffs stored within.

Newbattle Abbey, south of Dalkeith, was founded by Cistercian monks in 1140, and its church dedicated to St Mary in 1233-4.

It became a private residence in 1587 when the last abbot, Mark Kerr, converted to Protestantism and was able to retain his lands. His son became Lord Newbattle in 1596.

The remains of the abbey are built into the surviving house, which was modified and rebuilt by the architects John Mylne (1650), William Burn (1836) and David Bryce (1858).

The house was gifted to the nation in 1937 to be used as a further education college.

Photo: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland/Scran

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