On Sunday, 6th February 2022, His Grace, Charles 11th Duke of Roxburghe in his first engagement as Honorary Patron of Kelso Heritage Societyunveiled the Kelso Abbey Orchard Community Stone at a ceremony in the orchard.
His Grace noted:
“It is a privilege to be unveiling this Abbey Stone, a superb display of artisanal craft which will now be part of Kelso’s living history, and in its rightful home”
The short ceremony was led by former Kelso Laddie and Heritage Society Trustee Colin Henderson. Current Chairman Neil Rawlins introduced the sculptor Finn McCallum and Past Chairman and former Trustee Dr Derek Robeson gave the vote of thanks.
Chairman of Kelso Heritage Society, Neil Rawlins stated:
“As a heritage society we are delighted today to unveil this stone which will assist in broadening awareness of this historically significant site. Visitors to the stone within today’s abbey orchard can enjoy a small selection of old variety apple trees. We encourage visitors to close their eyes and imagine similar trees growing here nearly 900 years ago. Although medieval monks didn’t have iPhones, they did have apples.”
The stone, carved by local artist Finn McCallum depicts a monk gathering apples from a tree in the abbey garden on its south side and on its north you’ll see the two kings David I and Malcolm IV enthroned within the capitalised letter M, this was borrowed from the 1159 century Kelso Charter which confirmed the surrounding lands of Kelso to the Abbey.
Commenting on his inspiration for the design on the stone Finn said:
“In the autumn of 2019 while taking part in the archaeological excavations, up to my eyes in a pit just over there, digging around, covered in mud and completely in my element I came up with the idea of donating a wee stone for the new orchard.
Initially, I had planned to create something fairly small scale, maybe donating a weeks’ worth of carving at most whilst taking a back seat role on any design and organisation. Then I decided that since this is my hometown, I was going to develop the idea further and create something I can be proud of.
I hope that as this orchard matures, the stone will tie it in with the abbey and remind future generations of the importance of green spaces and of our town’s rich heritage.”
The provision of this stone purchased from a well-known local quarry for the Kelso Abbey Community Orchard and the carving of the stone was made possible through generous sponsorship from Creative Scotland, Fallago Environment Fund and Roxburghe Estates.
Creative Scotland said:
“Creative Scotland is pleased to support the creation of this new work in Kelso. This project represents the core of what we do, helping to sustain creativity and to develop artists’ practice, and helping to contribute to the perpetuation of stone carving as a craft in the Scottish Borders. We were pleased to see that the project has a significant level of local support from The Kelso Heritage Society, Kelso and District Amenity Society, Visit Kelso, Kelso Community Council and Mayfield Garden Centre and were glad that the funding from Creative Scotland has helped this project happen.”
Photo at top of page shows the stone with crests of Kings David I and Malcolm IV, and, left-to-right: Gavin Horsburgh, Leader of Kelso Community Council and honorary Provost of Kelso, Neil Rawlins, Chairman of Kelso Heritage Society, His Grace, Charles 11th Duke of Roxburghe, Finn McCallum, artist and stone carver.