A GRAND OPENING

Monday, 8 July 2019 12:01


The restoration of one of the most significant hilltop monuments in the Scottish Borders -– the Monteath Douglas Mausoleum, near Ancrum – has been completed following a £128,000 funding injection and the heroic efforts of a group of local volunteers. Almost five years of campaigning and fundraising by the Friends of the Monteath Mausoleum finally paid off on 7th July, when the building was officially opened by Lord Lothian. In the picture are (L to R) Wendy Reid (BCCF), David Freeman (Friends), Lord Lothian, Debbie Playfair (Fallago), Gareth Baird (Fallago) and Nicola Toneri (Friends). Photo © Borders Aerial Photography.

Grants from the Fallago Environment Fund (£59,444), FCC Communities Foundation (£59,450) and BCCF Environmental (£10,000) have enabled the Friends to fulfil their dream of restoring this gem of Victorian architecture to its former glory and improving public access to the site for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, families and tourists.

Restoration work began last June, with craftsmen stonemasons from Sandy McLean & Co of Duns brought in to repoint the beautiful curved stone dome, often filling paper-thin cracks, and to repair the building’s curved flank wall which features two life-sized stone lions, one awake and one sleeping. The roof’s 48 beautiful glazed stars were individually surveyed, with glass precision-cut and replaced. New doors were crafted from green oak, using original ironware and the boundary walls were repaired.  The newly wind and water tight building now protects the impressive interior carvings of two tall guardian angels. A new level pathway from the car park was created to facilitate disabled access to the enclosure and a new lightning conductor was installed and railings replaced.

The mausoleum is now open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders throughout the year to admire the monument and enjoy the stunning surroundings. Information Boards on site detail the history of the building for those curious about how and why this enigmatic monument was built here. The more adventurous may want to look inside the crypt, where two huge carved angels with pink wings guard the sarcophagus, with pale sunlight filtering down from the star-studded dome. A key for the crypt is available from Lothian Estates Office at Bonjedward, TD8 6UF for the payment of a small fee.

Additionally, for six weekends each year the track from the A68 road will be opened for vehicle access, with a Guide available to assist visitors, show them around the crypt and answer questions. These Open Weekends will be particularly suitable for less-abled visitors and families with small children who might otherwise find it difficult to access the site.