TillVAS Till Valley Archaeological Society
TillVAS             Till Valley Archaeological Society

Members' Written Contributions

This is a new section to allow members to contribute short articles, poetry and relevant photographs of an historical or archaeological nature.

It will not be a social media section. This is best left for the TillVAS Twitter and Facebook sites.


Please use the Contact page to say that you have a contribution and the website manager will get back to you.



The Lindisfarne Peregrini excavation on The Heugh at Lindisfarne attracted my attention, but because of holidays and important work near home, was unable to go until the site was about to close down.   However, on a nice sunny Saturday I went for a preliminary look, to find there a number of TillVAS members and friends all very busy amongst the foundation stones of the chapel  under the direction of Richard Carlton and Paul Frodsham the archaeologists.   While watching, my trowelling hand began to itch, and after taking a few photos, resolved at least help to clear up.

The following Tuesday after some rather poor weather my friend Heather & I duly set off at the appointed time (the tides restrict access to the island somewhat) but on arriving found the site unworkable and we returned home.   I did eventually get some working days,  trowelling at the east end in case there were signs of burials and re-laying some of the turfs (and there were turfs & TURFS).   There were stones to move, the most worked stones were photographed and kept to one side for further examination.   These were BIG stones, sometimes only one filled the barrow and made wheeling a bit uncertain.

The numbers of volunteers had dwindled at this late stage, as the excavation should have been closed by this time, but there was always a few of us to keep the work going.    There usually had to be somebody on Public Relations duty as the foundations of the chapel were still exposed and the visitors passing by on the footpath had innumerable questions, were most interested, and listened attentively to explanations.   There were quite a few visitors from  abroad, holidaying in Edinburgh, Bamburgh and elsewhere, who had seen reports in the media and wanted to see for themselves.    

Then it was backfilling time, but arrangements had been made for a digger to shift the huge piles of soil and stones.   Everyone likes diggers, both at the beginning and the end of digs!

Firstly though, the foundations were covered with a black sheet which tended to blow away  unless held down with boots, to prevent damage by stones which were carefully placed.   Then the soil was gradually moved from the heaps  and carefully spread.   Eventually all was in place, the remainder of the turfs built into low banks to mark the outlines of the chapel, or spread on the interior to hopefully grow back into the grassy cliff top.

Most of the time here, the singing of the seals was quite audible and every day a little pied wagtail worked alongside us, gobbling up anything edible.   The swallows swooped below us under the cliff and there were boats of various kinds, a beautiful yacht one day, and one morning when we arrived, some unfortunate had run aground on a sand bank and the boat sat high and dry waiting for the next tide.

On the last day, the rain returned and it was waterproofs again, but we were finished by lunch time, although we had to wait for the tide to turn before we could leave the island.

I will go back if the site is reopened in the future (and if I’m spared!).  Once a digger, always a digger.

Maureen Charlton.


A Mysterious Stone in Lennel Kirk

The kirkyard has come to life, it has lost its solitude. The living have intruded on the dead, but now the dead are no longer so anonymous. Tenacious and empathetic men have recorded the memorials and those who left the living world so long ago have been brought back from obscurity and into the present.

Lennel Kirk is naked now, stripped bare. The vegetation which clothed and softened the starkness of the ruins has been pulled away from the walls. The rank plants and tumbled stones that covered the earth floor, raised up over time, were shovelled away from within the roofless interior by willing hands before a small mechanical digger arrived to assist the process. Mattocks and shovels followed, probing tools searching the kirk for its secrets. The human excavators set to work with questing curiosity and excitement, biting into the bare earth, the surface accumulated over the last two hundred years of lonely neglect. The heavy work of moving rubble into wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow and trundling it away to be tipped against the surrounding kirkyard wall, failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the eager toilers. Interesting carved, and worked stone came to light, to be carefully stored for future reference and detailed study. Some of these were beautiful­–ecclesiastical treasures that honoured God, graced the interior and had given pleasure to those vanished congregations.

From above, one stone in particular manifested itself as a simple oblong object set flush with the surrounding earth. The diggers gazed down on it; was it a part of a floor? Was it part of something else? It wasn’t until the remorseless, unremitting scrapes of trowel and shovel uncovered it fully that its true external nature was apparent. A worked rectangular block of stone with, carved on its side, the image of a skull. On either side of the skull were crossed bones and some carvings, perhaps representing masons’ or workmen’s tools. The stone was set into the internal face of the north chancel wall, supported on either side by two carved corbels. But what was its meaning? What did it represent? Who was it for? Was it a lintel supporting a vanished door that had been, perhaps, an entrance to a vaulted tomb? Had it come from somewhere else? What stories were locked within its mute, inanimate existence?

Certain to say, though, that the touch of many hands hints at some shadowy emanations locked within the stone and evident to imagination; echoes from all those who were involved in bringing that object into useful life. To begin with someone had commissioned it, then came the quarryman who laboured with the pick to force it, in its raw undressed state, out of the bedrock where it had lain for aeons. Next came the carter who, with his horse, drove it away to be worked before it reached the hands of another worker, a mason who tooled the stone according to instructions from the builder or architect. Finally the labourers who placed it in the spot from which, however many centuries later, it was at last uncovered by the next workers in its story, the excavators. It is not the end of its history though as others puzzle over its purpose and meaning. It may seem just a stone, but it holds within it all those unknown lives, their hopes and fears and, in the end, as promised to all of us, the knowledge of certain death.

Copyright © Gwen Chessell, November 2016


This was the final day of fieldwork for the Flodden 1513 Project.   Heather had volunteered to drive although the weather forecast was poor and sure enough as we crossed the Border at Coldstream the rain began.   Arriving at St. Bathans where the water was running down the road, general opinion was that it was far too wet to go up the hill and it was decided to delay until there was some improvement.   We therefore waited, some in cars, some in the church until all six of us gathered in the warmer Bothy and eventually, after a very early lunch we shared out the tools and set off up the hill.


Little had changed since we were last on site in May – the ferns had grown and what had been bare ground was covered in a fine green moss due to the overhanging canopy of sycamore trees and rhododendrons.   The object that day was to try to find a “floor” layer.   Heather, Ray and I worked at the east end against the thick stone wall previously unearthed but with no luck.   However, Diana and Antony did find a possible floor level at the west end – a clay surface stretching back into the interior for a couple of metres.


As we had been late starting, after a quick tea break it was time to back fill, but how quiet and peaceful it was up on the hillside. It was easy to imagine in earlier times, the Abbey, sitting quietly in the valley below; only disturbed, both then and now, by the keening cry of a soaring buzzard and the song of a robin in the scrub. Perhaps someday an ancient document will be found, rolled up in a forgotten corner, with a record of the day-to-day life of the Abbey and why it was decided to build this little chapel on the hillside.

Copyright © Maureen Charlton, October 2016

A Border Chieftain’s Call


A stark and ancient, blackened rock,

Tall, mis-shapen, windblown, strong,

Up high, a monumental, blasted block,

Now quiet in peaceful calm, so long.


Below that rigid, tombic thrust,

A lichened, vaulted cell lies still

With bones and shards amidst the dust,

Spread wide in drifts, within the hill.


A crumbled soul, an unknown name,

That once was battle worn and sleeps,

That led so many human waves to fame

But fell, struck down, and no one weeps.


Yet, from that lair of stale and musty sand,

A spirit called to me with force and pride,

With echoing shout and outstretched hand,

A warrior’s fervant cry that soared, then died.

Copyright © Antony Chessell, October 2016 

Lennel Kirk - Preliminary Investigations

I was very interested when the conservation of Lennel Kirk was first mentioned in 2015 and when the opportunity arose to undertake some work on the site I couldn’t resist.   After working on the old chapel at Abbey St. Bathans earlier I find that old buildings are better to work on than open spaces.


Clearing rubble was the task for the first session and we spent the first day literally “throwing stones away”.   Disposal of the masses of quite large stones consisted of men with barrows leading them down to the gateway where they were stacked alongside the wall.   After the rubble came the rubbish, broken bottles, pieces of metal and animal bones.     The metal came from iron railings which had been removed during the second world war.   One Memorial plot was obvious, but a second was discovered just under the surface. 

Copyright © Maureen Charlton, September 2016

Lennel Kirk & Kirkyard, Coldstream

This article by a member of TillVAS was first published in Border Voices on Border Ruins, an anthology from Borders Writers Forum, 2010. It is on the website for Coldstream & District Local History Society and, in view of the involvement of TillVAS members in the recent investigations inside the ruined kirk, the article is reproduced here in September 2016.

High above the River Tweed is a quiet place, where ancient yews stand like green pillars reaching for heaven. This place is approached by a path that winds steeply upwards across a thickly wooded slope. The path leads first to a grassy platform that looks out over the murmuring river below across to English farmland. A rough seat surrounded by brambles invites contemplation and, when the sun is shining, to some dallying to soak up grateful warmth. But something soon beckons the stranger to move on and wander over a simple stile set into a gap in a stone wall into a silent, sequestered place.


This is Lennel kirkyard, the resting place for hundreds of years of the folk of this area. It is a peaceful place, its other worldliness only interrupted now and again by the sound of a vehicle moving fast along the road that lies hidden from view on the other side of the opposite stone wall. Even birdsong is muted and respectful. Within this walled place, the air now hangs heavy and seemingly without warmth even when the sun illuminates the obelisks and pillars that mingle among the headstones. The silent, unchronicled stories of those who lie in the chill earth, earth that seems hardly ever touched by the sun’s rays, hang suspended in that heavy air. ‘I was here’, the unspoken air cries out, ‘I lived, I loved, I suffered, I saddened–how can I tell you my story?’


Around the six feet of soil that hide the remains of the dead, the blurred stone monuments are the only remembrances of their passing; the only tangible hints that the dead lived at all. Perhaps seven hundred years of lives, from the most lowly to the highest in the land, seven hundred years of stories, now forgotten. But even in death, there is inequality. Some of high degree separated themselves from their more lowly brethren by their interment in another enclosure that is wreathed with rose and honeysuckle. But whether of high or low degree, in this, the oldest part of the kirkyard, most of the old graves lie untended; the inscriptions unreadable. Those who mourned each passing, have now passed on themselves and so the mourned become the unmourned.


And in the centre of the kirkyard is the ancient kirk, now itself decaying just as inevitably. Dark, aged yew trees give shelter to the shattered walls that still watch over the silent congregations.  Unlike them, the kirk is still above the ground but ruinous and dilapidated. The north wall and the western gable stand, roofless but softened by a monstrous festoon of ivy.  On the inside of the shoulder-high wall two monuments cling to the crumbling surface–one of pink granite and the other of white marble, their inscriptions so sharply crisp that they might well have been carved more recently but the two ministers they commemorate have been dead a very long time. The memorials hold locked within them the ghostly hint of sermons preached long ago, words now lost for ever.  Outside this wall is a tall obelisk, crowned by a garlanded urn and with a dedication which is so decayed that only a name and place are faintly discernible (Reverend Adam Thomson of the Free Bible fame).


The kirk was hewn long ago from a local quarry. Its fallen stones are now green, moss-covered and in the summer, hidden under nettles and other rank plants. The kirk’s benefice was linked to Coldstream Priory. Sir Walter Scott imagined Marmion, that noble villain, coming here, before the fatal day of Flodden. Perhaps he sought a blessing before that day that was to end for him, and for the Scots against whom he fought, so mercilessly unblessed.


Not all men respected those who had gone before them. At the west end of what was once the nave of the kirk, the existence of a mort-house testifies to those who did not scruple to use human remains as currency.  In the days when anatomists were eager for cadavers to dissect, men kept watch here to keep safe the newly interred bodies of the dead. Now the dark, dank interior of the mort-house is covered by a corrugated iron roof and the only living watcher is the occasional barn owl. Elsewhere iron bound mort-safes are pits for the unwary, sinking and decaying into the ground like their long mortified occupants.


But new life returns each spring, first when the snowdrops carpet the ground softening one’s awareness of mortality and inevitable decay, followed by the joyful yellow of narcissi.  In summer, the ground is covered by clover, vetch, nettles, blue geraniums, brambles and thistles. Insects hum and butterflies flit among the flowers.  Not far from the kirk, another obelisk is obscured by four gigantic yews but through the yews, a determined rose has inserted itself and its orange-red hips hang brightly and defiantly against the blue-black berries of a bird-seeded mahonia.  These interlopers are a welcome foil to the sombre green of the yew trees. The kirkyard gives its shelter to this day as burials still take place in the newer eastern end, and its existence continues to offer comfort and a place of contemplation to the newly bereaved. In this newer end of the kirkyard, lies a former prime minister, safely gathered in the soil of the country he loved best. This is still a place where the lives are celebrated, honoured and commemorated; the bereaved visit and remember. Life goes on.

Copyright © Gwen Chessell 2010

This contribution appeared in The Fourum (the community newsletter for Branxton, Crookham, Ford & Etal) in April 2016


Research carried out for the Branxton & Crookham Village Atlas Project is producing all sorts of information, some profound, some trivial, some ancient and some modern. This snippet may be both trivial and modern but it is worthy of mention, as it describes a somewhat unusual anomaly. Letter boxes in current use in the two villages (as well as in Etal) are of wall box design and and ‘lamp’ box (for attaching to poles) design rather than being upright pillar boxes and they are post-1952 in date. They are interesting, not because of their age or style but because, although they are situated in Northumberland, they are of a type found in Scotland. This is because the postal service in this area is part of the Scottish postal system, administered locally from Coldstream in the Scottish Borders. There is no EIIR cipher on our village boxes, reflecting the fact that when the first Elizabethan post boxes were unveiled in Scotland in 1952/3, a number were vandalised and even blown up, challenging the Queen’s title of Elizabeth II, instead of Elizabeth I of Scotland. Although a legal challenge by protestors failed in 1953, the General Post Office decided that, for a quiet life, all post boxes in Scotland (and by extension, in Branxton, Crookham and Etal) would have the image of the Scottish crown only, rather than the St. Edward’s crown and the EIIR cipher. The Branxton ‘lamp’ box with its Scottish crown, even advertises its origin with the maker’s name moulded at the base, ‘Carron Works, Stirlingshire’, although the Works also made boxes for general use in England.

Copyright © Antony Chessell, August 2016

Valerie Glass shares a fieldwalking experience with us:-



It was a mild October morning when I set off for a day’s fieldwalking at Branxton. What better way to spend a birthday, I thought. Hmmm....I imagine there are many who would not agree with me but I was happy to do so. We were searching a field at Branxton Moor Farm believed to be on the route followed by the Scottish army on its way to the Battle of Flodden in 1513, exactly 500 years earlier. The field had already been marked out by more experienced volunteers and professional archaeologists were close at hand providing supervision and guidance.


Fieldwalking may sound tedious – walking slowly in straight lines up and down a field, picking up anything which looks man-made and placing it in a plastic bag labelled with the exact location.  And of course, if finds are rare, it can be very tedious. Yet, it is strangely addictive. It is difficult to dispense with the feeling that the very next step may provide sight of a precious item, even when the previous hour has yielded precisely nothing.


On this occasion we volunteers were motivated by the possibility of finding coins, badges, buttons, etc., once the possession of Scots soldiers and accidentally dropped as they marched towards the field of battle 500 years earlier. For the first half-hour I found nothing at all despite scanning the ground carefully, willing something significant to appear.  Then I casually picked up what appeared to be a small piece of modern building material with a distinctive patterned surface. “Is this anything?” I asked a more experienced volunteer. “It looks like a domino”, she answered. And so it was!


The professionals were quickly called upon for their opinions and identified it as a domino possibly made of bone. Interestingly, one half had 9 spots rather than the usual 1-6. Could this piece have belonged to a set belonging to a Scot enjoying a game for relaxation the night before the battle and possibly before his death?


The find was duly photographed and bagged to be washed and cleaned later. I felt it was a very fortuitous discovery on my birthday! I would like to be able to report that during the rest of the day we came upon some more pieces from the set but sadly we did not. However, it was the most significant find of the day.


Meanwhile on returning home, I set to work on the internet. My knowledge of dominoes was virtually non-existent so I had much to learn about their origins. As they are relatively simple objects I had imagined they might be very ancient in origin, dating to Roman or Greek civilisations or possibly earlier. I was wrong. The first known written reference to them appeared in 13th century China. They did not emerge in Europe until the 18th century in Italy and it is speculated that Italian missionaries visiting China may have brought them back to Italy. In a stroke the possibility of them lying in that filed since the time of the battle was ruled out!


Dominoes reached Britain by the late 18th century and may have been brought over by French prisoners of war. European sets are designed rather differently from the original Chinese ones and there are many variations. They became very popular in the 19th and 20th centuries and have since spread to the rest of the world.


It was later confirmed by Archaeological Services at Durham University that the domino is bone. Information came from Andrew Joicey of New Etal Farm that French Prisoners of War had laid drains in the area during the Napoleonic wars. So  perhaps it had originally belonged to a soldier, though French not Scottish!

I felt very pleased to make my discovery and did not mind at all that it had had a shorter residence in that Branxton field than originally hoped!


Copyright © Valerie Glass, July 2016

Fieldwalking in October requires determination and warm clothing!
The domino as seen straight from the ground before cleaning.

In a previous article, Heather Waldron referred to "The Trewe Encountre". Here, Maureen Charlton gives us details of this historic document and comments on its content.



The transcription and translation of this document known as “The Trewe Encountre or Battle” is the first written account of the Battle of Flodden.   The undated handwritten document in medieval English was written some 100 years after the actual battle, probably by an Englishman from a verbal account, and closes with the words “Imprinted by me. Richard Faques, Dwelling In Poulys Church Yard”.   This document however has missing pages, as in one instance the narrative doesn’t follow on.

This medieval account begins on 4th September when Lord Surrey is in Alnwick and it was reported to him that the Scots had camped near Ford after taking both Norham and Etal Castles.   Research has shown that he had already mustered a large army from Lancashire and Yorkshire and had been joined by another contingent of soldiers who had been transported by ship to Newcastle. (E101/63/27 – National Archives at Kew)

In 1867, at the “Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland” a paper was presented by David Laing Esq. LLD (VPSA-Scot) who had discovered a printed document at a sale of autographs, and was able to identify it as a report of the Battle of Flodden.   On closer inspection he was surprised to find it was almost an exact copy of the original document except that it included the missing pages.

It would appear that the person who initially made this report was not familiar with the area, as the account states that “ My Lord Surrey…………removed to a field called Wooler Haugh within 3 miles of the King of Scots”.   Flodden Hill is in fact nearer 7 miles from Wooler Haugh, and in the extra pages it also states that on 8th September the whole English army moved from Wooler Haugh to Barmoor “within sight of the King of Scots, at the furthest from him within 2 miles”.   At the closest the English army would never be nearer than 5 miles from Flodden.

Many books have been written about the Battle of Flodden by a number of eminent authors, all of whom appear to base their work on “The Trewe Encountre”, albeit with their own interpretation of the circumstances.

Several questions however remain unanswered:-

  • No mention is made as to the positions of the English or Scots guns.   However, in an account of the Battle of Flodden by Robert White published in 1848, he includes a sketch plan of the “battles” which shows the position of the guns of both sides, but there is no indication of the origin of this information.
  • It has been stated that when the body of James IV was discovered, “within a spears length of the Earl of Surrey” he had numerous severe wounds, including an arrow wound, although he would have worn full body armour.   It must be assumed that this wound was received earlier in the battle, otherwise the bowman was putting the life of Surrey himself at risk.   However, it is accepted that the wet and windy weather would affect the flight of arrows.   Some of the other “severe” wounds could have been inflicted after death, as the body was not discovered until the following day and had probably been stripped by looters, unless he had removed some of his armour for ease of movement.   Also, there is no indication whether he was on foot or horsed at this time.  
  • On leaving Flodden Hill, the Scots army were said to have burned all their rubbish to provide a smokescreen for their movements.   If the army was moving directly from Flodden Hill to Branxton Hill, they themselves would have been marching in clouds of acrid smoke if it hid the manoeuvre from the English.   They also allegedly left the baggage train, later found intact by the English.   Would they have started a big fire in the vicinity of a baggage train they intended to recover?   Was it also wise to create a smoke screen which would effectively obscure the advance of the English Army unless there were watchers at strategic points to report back, and how long had they been in position to warn of the imminent attack?
  • “The Trewe Encountre” states that “The said King of Scots did cause his tents to be taken up and keeping the heights of the mountain, removed with his great power and pursuance of people out of the said forest towards Scotland”.   This seems to suggest that he moved his entire force, baggage train, guns – and army, westwards, along the ridge of Flodden Edge as far as the heights of Branxton Moor, also with a short distance and sight of Branxton Hill but with an angled approach – southwest to northeast.   Coldstream (Scotland) is clearly visible from here, downhill and only about 5 miles distant.
  •  It also says that the ample supplies of food in the baggage train were suspected to be poisoned and destroyed although the English army had eaten virtually nothing for the previous 2 days!   However, in a letter to  Cardinal Wolsley dated 20th September from Ruthall, Bishop or Durham,  “there were an abundance of victuals, wine etc. tasted and viewed to their great refreshing”*
  • *Ferguson, John, The Battle of Flodden:  Contemporary Letters and Documents, 2011.
  • Copyright © Maureen Charlton, July 2016

Research being carried out by members taking part in the Branxton & Crookham Village Atlas Project is producing all sorts of interesting local 'snippets'. Maureen Charlton gives a flavour of some of these in the following examples:-



AN EXTRAORDINARY AND UNSEEMLY SCENE occurred in the parish church of Crookham, Northumberland, on Sunday last.   A proposal to raise the rents of the seats has been some time in agitation, and a few days ago each seat had the price to be paid in future affixed to it.  This caused a great deal of dissatisfaction among the congregation, and many were determined not to pay at any higher rate than they had been doing.   Two of the managers waited on the clergyman on Sunday to advice with him about the proposal as to the increase of the pew rents, and a discussion took place in the vestry, which lasted so long that the congregation were kept waiting fully thirty-five minutes past the usual time of commencing the service, all the time wondering at the sounds of heated argument proceeding from the neighbouring chamber.   At length the clergyman made his appearance, and, after giving out the psalm and a short prayer, entered anew on the discussion which had been going on in the vestry about the seat rents.   He thought the working people and farmers could easily afford to pay the advanced rents, and went into minute calculations of the effect the increase would have on the monthly weekly, and daily disbursements of each seat-holder.   His calculations were stopped by a Mr. Greenfield, of Pallinsburn, who stood up and reminded the minister that these remarks would have been better made at the close of the service, and that the congregation did not desire to hear there arithmetical problems in domestic economy solved in the pulpit, and paid enough already for the little good they got from attending Crookham Church.   At this point Mr. Strutt, the collector of the seat rents, started to his feet, and objected to Mr. Greenfield abusing the minister, and hope he would hold his tongue.   Mr. Greenfield retorted, and closed by proposing that the rents for the seats remain as at present.   This met with a seconder in Mr. Patterson of Branxton, and, on being put to the congregation, which  had been gradually dwindling down to small proportions, was on a show of hands, declared to be carried, and the meeting dispersed. – Scotsman.





THE CROOKHAM CHURCH - NORTHUMBERLAND – The church at Crookham has gained a notoriety over the whole of North Northumberland for the eccentricities not only of the minister, but also of the congregation.   The Presbytery met recently to investigate into the recent irregular proceedings, and among the other complaints made against the minister it was stated that he did not attend to his pulpit on Sundays, but came into the church a quarter and sometimes half an hour too late.   The beadles, however, on being interrogated, said “that the minister was aye ready when he was wanted.”   The minister complained that some of the congregation stood at the door and did not come into the church at the appointed hour.   It would still seem, however, that the caution the presbytery administered has had little effect, and that both minister and people have fallen back into their old habits, and the use of a hand-bell has had to be resorted to.   It was used for the first time on Sunday morning and rather startled the inhabitants of Crookham who are not all dissenters.



It is with great regret that we have to record the death of Mr. George Dodds, farmer of Encampment, which took place very suddenly at Crookham, on the 8th inst.   It appears that Mr. Dodds left home in perfect good health, and journeyed to Crookham Post Office with the intention of getting the result of the poll for the Berwick–on-Tweed Division.    On his arrival at the post office the result of the poll had not been telegraphed, so he expressed a desire to go for a short walk, but had scarcely left the premises when he was seen to stagger and fall, and on being picked up immediately after was found to be quite dead, heart disease no doubt being the cause of death.   Mr. Dodds was very much respected by all who knew him, and was well-known along the Borders, and his sudden demise has caused a profound sensation in the neighbourhood.   Great sympathy is expressed for Mrs. Dodds and her family, who are all young.   Mr. Dodds was only in the prime of life.   He was a great supported of Mr. Askew-Robertson and was a member of the Primrose League. 







Corporal Thomas Steel, 2nd Service Company, Northumberland fusiliers Volunteers, arrived at Coldstream Station on Friday with the 6 o’clock train from Berwick, and was accorded enthusiastic reception.   Coldstream Band was in attendance, and on the train approaching the station, struck up “See the Conquering Hero Comes”.   Amongst those on the platform to welcome the “returning brave” were Mr. Hogarth, school master, Crookham, representing the Reception Committee;  Mr. Thomas Steel, father;  Mr. Knox, schoolmaster, Wark;  Mr. Dodds, Crookham;  Mr. R. Steel, Crookham; and other friends.   Brakes were ready at the station, and conveyed the party to Crookham, where another enthusiastic reception was given to the hero.   In passing the Blue Bell salutes were fired from a cannon above 100 years old in the possession of Mr. George Young.   The little village of Crookham, which is delightfully situated, was gaily deck with flags.   A triumphal arch was erected at the entrance to Corpl. Steel’s home, with the words “Welcome Home” inscribed over it.


Source for the above extracts: British Newspaper Archive, www.britishnewspaperarchives.co.uk in partnership with the British Library Board.

© 2016 Find My Past Newspaper Archives Limited..


Maureen Charlton, July 2016

Excavations took place at Wedderburn in the Scottish Borders in June 2016 as part of the Flodden Routeways Project with volunteers from TillVAS and elsewhere, directed by Hon. Member, Richard Carlton.


This account is from Heather Waldron:-


Burials at Wedderburn

Home Family lore, as reported by the RCAHMS, asserts that a George Home was buried at the Wedderburn burial ground after a fatal skirmish with English raiders in 1497. His son and grandson, David and George, were subsequently reported to also have been buried there after Flodden in 1513. In addition, two members of the Home family were excommunicated for an offence against the Prior of Coldingham in 1474 and might have had to be buried outwith consecrated ground.

Up to now there has been no actual evidence of burials on the site other than the head of a cross on the surface. Last month Peter Ryder confirmed that the cross is medieval and a tentative dig immediately revealed the displaced socket stone for the base. (The column may have been robbed for a lintel.) Further digging has produced some scattered large dressed stones and an area of smaller stones, possibly used as infill.

A study of the Homes of Wedderburn family plot at Duns church would indicate that there have been no burials at the Wedderburn Castle site since 1608. However, remains from there may have been exhumed at some stage and reburied in the consecrated family plot at Duns.

The "Trewe Encountre" says that "maister Edmonde Hawarde....faught hande to hande with oone Sir Davy Home, and slew him with his oune hande..... " in the initial engagement on the English right flank.*


Is there a remote possibility that we could be close to that casualty from Flodden?



*The Trewe Encountre or Batyle Lately Don etc., Flaque, 1513 in Petrie, George, 'Account of Flodden in the 'Trewe Encountre' manuscript, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland, Vol. 7, Edinburgh, 1866-7, pp. 141-152.


Copyright © Heather Waldron, 2016


Photos by Heather Waldron:-

Somebody has to start!

The head of the medieval cross lying on the ground.

The excavation is well under way with Director, Richard Carlton, watching intently as John Home-Robertson trowels around the socket stone.

Richard Carlton cleaning up in the trench around the socket stone.

What is this? A boulder with runes or plough marks? The experts haven't decided except to say that the lines are not natural. Let us hope for runes! It would be a TillVAS first!

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© TillVAS


A new list of photographs of Branxton have been added to the archives.


See Archaeology News for information about our dig at Mardon


Congratulations to Ford School! See 'Village Atlas News' for details or  follow the link to the Berwickshire Advertiser for more details. http://www.berwick-advertiser.co.uk/news/heritage-heroes-are-the-first-in-england-1-4519447


Some very good news!

Please click on Archaeology News, above


This website continues in a new format and is being kept up-to-date with information about the battle, the ecomuseum, the 41 sites on the network and much more. Please click on the Links page, above, in order to access the site. There is also information about 'The Way Ahead' on the Archaeology page, above.


The Society has an extensive collection of documents and photographs held in its secure archives. These are invaluable for members wishing to study the local history of the area or wishing to gather information for e.g. the  Village Atlas Project. Please click on the tag above to see the catalogues. Anyone wishing to access the archives should contact the Society's Archivist, Maureen Charlton or the Assistant Archivist, Julia Day.


Please see a new section on the website—click on the appropriate tab above.  Please let us have your thoughts, in prose or in verse.


There are some important meetings of the Activity Groups scheduled over the next few months. Please click on the appropriate tag above, which will take you to the Village Atlas page and give you all the dates, times and places of the meetings.


Please click on the Latest Newsletter page to see information for the current month.


Click on Reports on Events, above, for detailed accounts and press reports.


The Society operates a bookstall at all its meetings.

Items for sale include:-

1. The Society's first publication Breamish and Till: From Source to Tweed at £10 per copy and

2. Vivian Wilcock's Andrew Todd 1844-1908 ( with research input by TillVAS members) at £5 per copy.

See the Publications page for more about these books. Copies of Breamish and Till are also available in Cornhill Village Shop and the Lavender Tea Rooms and Village Shop in Etal.


There are also archaeological books and journals for sale. Net proceeds of sale go to TillVAS funds.