The Kelso Abbey Community Orchard Stone

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In the summer of 2019, I participated in an archaeological dig to determine if there was anything of significance below the surface on the site of Kelso Abbey’s historic orchard. This was in preparation for the establishment of the Kelso Abbey Community Orchard. Although little was uncovered other than the likes of numerous post medieval pottery shards, I was inspired to propose the idea of carving a stone for the orchard. Initially, in cooperation with the Kelso Heritage Society, I had planned in keeping it as a small project, donating a few days carving time if the stone and design were provided. However, since Kelso is my hometown, I decided to scale up the project with the hope of creating a substantial sculpture to be proud of. 

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The original rough sketch.

With assistance from the Kelso Heritage Society and written endorsements from Visit Kelso, Kelso Community Council, Kelso and District Amenity Society and Mayfield Garden Center, we successfully applied for joint funding from Creative Scotland’s Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development and the Fallago Environment Fund with a donation from Roxburghe Estates.  

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With thanks to the funders.

The main face of the Orchard Stone is based upon one of the faces of the ruinous Abbey’s remaining west tower with the intricate scene of a medieval monk collecting apples carved in the negative space of the arch. In homage to the original medieval masons of Kelso Abbey, I made the arduous decision to carve every aspect using only a hammer and chisels.

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The reverse face comprises of a quatrefoil window opening, loosely based off what is left of the quatrefoil windows in the abbey tower. The below inscription, stylised after the 12th Century Kelso Charter, was composed by the Kelso Heritage Society and is capitalised by the illuminated letter M, borrowed from the Kelso Charter. It features the Scottish kings David I and Malcolm IV, the Charter originally confirmed the surrounding lands of Kelso to the Abbey.