Bonawe Iron Furnace: Charging House


Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace © David Gill

The Bonawe Iron Furnace was established in 1753 by the Newland Company of Cumbria. This event is marked in the series of Ministry style signs that help to interpret the buildings and installations. The site is in the care of Historic Scotland.


Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace © David Gill


Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace © David Gill

The water wheel was installed in the pit adjacent to the blowing house. It was around 3.7 m in diameter. Water was fed from a lade. The wheel provided the power to work the bellows in the adjacent blowing house.


Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace © David Gill


Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace © David Gill

The casting house was located adjacent to the blast furnace.


Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace © David Gill


Bury St Edmunds Abbey: Warnings


Bury St Edmunds Abbey © David Gill

Bury St Edmunds Abbey was placed in State Guardianship in 1955. Signs indicating different parts of the abbey and the precinct were placed around the remains (e.g. crypt, crossing, lecture room). Visitors were discouraged from climbing the walls. Similar signs can be seen at Kirkham PrioryHadleigh Castle and Pickering Castle.


Bury St Edmunds Abbey © David Gill

What appears to be a pre-Ministry sign threatened those who damaged the walls with prosecution. However workmen from the Ministry had assisted with the consolidation of the ruins in 1928 and these signs may date to this phase (and see also Brough Castle).

Bury St Edmunds: Norman Tower


Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Norman Tower © David Gill

The Norman Tower was constructed in the period 1120 to 1148 under Abbot Anselm. It stands opposite the end of Churchgate Street, and in front of the west end of the abbey church. It served as a gateway to the abbey (completed in 1095) and the bell tower to the adjacent church of St James (now St Edmundsbury Cathedral).

Abbot Anselm was also responsible for the construction of the precinct wall, the church of St James, and the church of St Mary (at the south-west corner of the precinct).

The present ground level is well over the original street level. The tympanum over the western entrance was removed in 1789, and the battlements on the tower in 1842-46.

The Norman Tower, along with other parts of the abbey remains, is in the care of English Heritage.


Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Norman Tower © David Gill

Rendlesham Conference


Rendlesham Conference © David Gill

Some 450 delegates attended a conference at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds to hear about the results of the survey and excavations (2008-14) at the vicus regius of Rendlesham in Suffolk. One of the themes explored was the relationship between this apparent elite site on the Deben with the ship-burial site at Sutton Hoo. A further discussion was on the place of the former Saxon Shore fort at Walton Castle (near Felixstowe).

Papers were:

  • Sir Michael Bunbury, The landowner’s perspective
  • Faye Minter, How Rendlesham has been investigated
  • Jude Plouviez, Results: the Roman period
  • Christopher Scull, Results: the Anglo-Saxon period
  • Andrew Woods, Interpreting the early medieval coins
  • Charlotte Scull, Beasts and feasts: the animal resources
  • Kelly Kilpatrick, The place-names of a royal Anglo-Saxon landscape: a toponymic survey of Rendlesham and the Deben valley
  • Tom Williamson, Rendlesham in context: the changing geographies of early medieval England
  • Andrew Rogerson, Not always a backwater, the northern half of the East Anglian Kingdom in the 5th-9th centuries
  • Christopher Scull, Suffolk, East Anglia and the North Sea: the importance of Rendelsham in the 5th to 8th centuries AD

Martin Carver chaired the final session and emphasised the international significance of the discoveries. Christopher Scull outlined plans for publication (including an article in Antiquity) and future grant applications.

The conference was organised by Suffolk County Council with support from the Sutton Hoo Society, Council for British Archaeology East, and University of Suffolk.

The conference was sponsored by Suffolk Archaeology, Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB, Suffolk County Council, British Sugar and the National Trust.

Byland Abbey: Rood Screen


Byland Abbey © David Gill

The rood screen separated the lay brothers’ choir (at the west end of the abbey church) from the retrochoir. The nave altar stood at this point.

Note the square ends to the columns in the lay brothers’ choir.


Byland Abbey, Lay Brothers’ Choir looking eastwards © David Gill

Tours of Border Abbeys



I have noted before the souvenir guide for the Border Abbeys, published in 1964: Dryburgh, Kelso, Jedburgh and Melrose. A small card guide (with colour printing) to Melrose Abbey was issued by MPBW in 1963. On the reverse was a tour of the abbey, ending at the ‘attractive museum’. The cost was 4d (with the adult entry to the site at 1s). The suggested station was Melrose.



The MPBW card guide (monochrome on blue card) to Jedburgh Abbey is less elaborate with the tour inside with small sketches to illustrate the key features. The cost of this guide was 2d (with the adult entry to the site at 1s).


A further leaflet was available for Kelso Abbey.

Lincluden Collegiate Church: Princess Margaret


Lincluden, tomb of Princess Margaret © David Gill

Lincluden Collegiate Church lies on the northern side of Dumfries and is in the care of Historic Scotland (HES). The tomb of princess Margaret (b. before 1373; d. 1450/51) [ODNB], daughter of king Robert III (d. 1406) [ODNB] and widow of Archibald, 4th Earl of Douglas (c. 1369-1424) [ODNB], is located in the choir of the church. Her brother was king James I of Scotland (1394-1437) [ODNB].