Pupils from Jedburgh Grammar School braved windy conditions to undertake an investigation of the Old Burial Ground in Crailing this week. Only a short bus ride from their school, the Old Burial Ground was the perfect case study for the pupils to use and develop some of the ‘history detectives’ skills that they have been learning in school.
The site holds the remains of the 14th century church that once served the parish of Crailing, as well as a monument to the Cranstons, a wealthy borders family who once had a castle near the burial ground (although no traces of it remain), and some incredible headstones that are rich in iconography. All this archaeology in such an enclosed space made for a fantastic afternoon of investigating, with pupils being met off the bus and given maps, helping them plot where they were in the landscape and also identifying where they were going to be going.
Once they arrived at the site, pupils explored the remains of the church, theorizing on why it is no longer there and tracing out its outline that they felt could clearly be seen via the bumps and undulations in the ground!
The pupils then used their powers of detection to examine the Cranston Monument, which has been badly damaged and eroded over time. The class spotted that although the monument is not in good condition, its many carefully crafted parts now lay on the ground, next to the monument. This allowed the group to piece it back together in their heads, carefully examining discarded stonework and matching it up with a picture from the 1930s.
The headstones that are dotted around the burial ground are truly remarkable, with fantastic stone masonry iconography which gives deep clues to those who are buried on the site.
Using modelling clay and information on what the emblems and markings mean, the pupils set about making old headstones in the styles of the ones dotted around. The iconography really captured the pupils (and teachers!) imaginations and they produced some incredible models.
The pupils came up with some amazing headstones of their own, with each pupil showcasing theirs to the their peers, describing what the markings on their clay-stone represent.
The session finished with pupils discussing their thoughts on the site, evaluating the available evidence and thinking about the importance of the site to historians but also to the wider community. The pupil’s comments can be heard by using the link below;
Archaeology Scotland would like to thank Jedburgh Grammar School’s pupils and staff for taking part, Tim Abbot and Chris Bowles for all their help, and Linda Coles for her support in organizing the event.