Scheduled Monument

St Abb's Kirk,church and monastic remains,St Abb's HeadSM2975

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Ecclesiastical: church; monastery
Local Authority
Scottish Borders
NT 91635 68712
391635, 668712


This rescheduling case arises indirectly from the RCAHMS list for Berwickshire District, through a report of an excavation on Kirk Hill, St Abb's carried out by Professor Alcock in 1980. The results of the excavation suggest that Kirk Hill, not St Abb's Nunnery, was the true location of St Abb's monastery (Coludesburh). Radiocarbon dates frm the excavation gave a calibrated date of 630-770AD for an enclosure on the hill. The monument on Kirk Hill which is scheduled is a Medieval church, graveyard, and out-building (probably priest's house). The area presently scheduled includes all three features and an area around them measuring a maximum of 100m E-W by 100m transversely.

The summit of Kirk Hill is relatively level with a low knoll roughly central to the plateau. To the SW the land falls away very steeply but less so to the NW and SE. To the NE are sheer cliffs to the sea. A rampart has been built on the lip of the plateau, around the NW, SW and SE sides to delimit and defend the site. There are two entrances through the rampart, at the NW beside the cliff-top, and at the SE approaching the site up a gully. About 10m S of the NW entrance the rampart bifurcates continuing towards the cliff-top as a double rampart. The rampart survives as a broad bank which is best preserved to the NW and SE. Along the SW side it has been damaged by erosion and rabbit burrows. At the SE end of the site, on a gentle slope towards the entrance are several rectangular house platforms. The monument measures c. 310m NW-SE by a maximum of c. 200m transversely. The location of the site, the rectangular house platforms and the results of the excavation (especially the radiocarbon dates) suggest that this site is a more likely candidate for Coludesburh that St Abb's Nunnery. The increase area to be proposed for scheduling includes the plateau, rampart, and an area around it in which traces of activity associated with the monastery's use will survive. The area respects the shape of the monument and measures 340m NW-SE by a maximum of 210m transversely.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is a relatively undisturbed Early Christian monastery which has the potential to enhance considerably our understanding of the spread and development of Christianity in S Scotland. It is of particular importance because such sites are rare. Recent excavations at Whithorn have illustrated the great quantity and quality of archaeological information which can be recovered from sites of this period.



RCAHMS records the monument as NT96NW 17

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

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Printed: 21/05/2024 01:48