A Day at Abbot House Heritage Centre

Hi, I‘m Gillian Ramsay a human osteoarcheology graduate volunteering at Abbot House with the collections and education programmes. We are currently in the process of planning an exhibition for the late autumn/early winter which will celebrate 20 years since the first excavations were carried out at Abbot House. In 1992 a series of excavations were conducted by Fife Council before the building was renovated and transformed into Abbot House Heritage Centre. The excavation found evidence of occupation on the site stretching back to the 12th century, including workshops, stables and a late medieval graveyard. At the beginning of 2013 a new excavation conducted by Fife Council will start on an area of land right beside Abbot House. The excavation will prepare for the construction of a new Dunfermline Museum. The aim of our exhibition is to show the public what was found during previous digs, and to excite them about archaeology in general and about discoveries that might be made during the new excavation.

The Archaeology Exhibition is all part of our new renovation and rejuvenation scheme for Abbot House. We are trying to encourage local people to visit the house more often with a series of family events, night- and day-time lectures, and rotating exhibitions. In intention is that by 2014 the house will have been completely renovated, bringing the exhibits and facilities right up to date, with more hands-on interactive exhibits and engaging displays aimed at all ages.

The exhibition will display a number of the artefacts found at the sight within the context of what they can tell us about life in medieval and early modern Dunfermline. The majority of the artefacts will be loaned from Fife Council, although the displays will also include finds from Abbot House’s own collection. Abbot House has a small collection in storage on the property. The artefacts had been placed in boxes in the attic and forgotten about for 20 years so in preparation for the exhibition we brought them out of the attic, washed, catalogued, bagged and tagged the finds, and placed them in more suitable boxes.

As part of the exhibition we are considering having a stratigraphy display depicting the levels of activity at the site, with objects from the excavation placed within their respective horizons. So on the Day of Archaeology we began by going through the collection housed at Abbot House looking for artefacts for each layer.

Abbot House also runs a successful schools programme called Step into Medieval Dunfermline, which includes a mock excavation where kids can dig for finds and record them. On Wednesday a visiting school group managed to find all the objects in record time— so we thought it might be best to bury a few more artefacts! In the afternoon we selected a few more child-friendly and durable artefacts from the collection to bury in the dig pits.


For more information on Abbot House, the archaeology exhibition this autumn, our schools programme, or any of our other events, Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (@abbothouse), log onto our website, or give us a ring at 01383 733 266. Abbot House is a registered charity (SC018318), and is actively seeking support and sponsorship through our Friends scheme; for more information please ring the House.