A programme of archaeological works was undertaken by Rebecca Shaw Archaeological Services Ltd in March of this year in respect to construction of an extension to a house at Bereholm, Lesmahagow, South Lanarkshire. As there was a need for specialist analysis of the finds made during the course of this work, a report outlining the results has only recently been submitted. The works were undertaken as part of the requirement of the planning consent due to the proximity of proposed development area to the remains of Lesmahagow Priory. The Priory, which was excavated in 1978 in advance of development on the site, was founded in 1144 by Benedictine Monks. Excavations at that time uncovered the foundations of the cloister garth and walks, the south range including the complete layout of the refectory, most of the western range and part of the east range of the monastic complex.
Post-excavation view of in situ walling. Image copyright Rebecca Shaw Archaeological Services Ltd
During the current works, an initial trench was excavated across the footprint of the proposed new extension. Although the ground had been disturbed by both demolition works and insertion of large saltglazed pipes, a small section of in-situ walling was uncovered at a depth of 600mm. Four sherds of pottery were recovered in association with this wall, all dating from the 15th / 16th century. Four other sherds of medieval pottery were also recovered from within the more heavily-disturbed section of the initial evaluation trench.
As the initial evaluation had identified the survival of features and residual artefacts, a further phase of work was undertaken. The engineers for the project were able to develop a design to protect the walling from the concrete foundations required for the extension. This approach, essentially comprising a depth of compacted small stones, allowed the walling to remain in-situ, though monitoring was nevertheless required on the excavation of the foundation trenches. This revealed a further eight sherds of medieval pottery.
The pottery recovered during the two phases of fieldwork was analysed by Derek Hall, and with the exception of a putative imported sherd of tin glaze, was found to be of a similar type to those previously reported on from excavations at Lesmahagow Priory. Two fabric types found represented local variants of the redware pottery tradition identified elsewhere in Scotland, while a third type appeared to be an import from the whiteware producing areas further to the east. All the sherds were from glazed vessels, probably jugs, and there were no cooking wares present. This pottery allowed a date-range to be ascribed to various contexts identified on the site. The sherds of pottery found in association with the section of wall appear to date to the 15th or 16th centuries. Although the function of this wall could not be ascertained during the limited scope of the excavation, the pottery was found on its upper surface, suggesting that the wall is likely to pre-date this period.