The remains of a medieval bridge have been found in a river in the Borders.
Parts of the original Ancrum Bridge near Jedburgh, which dated back to the mid-1300s, have been discovered on the Teviot’s riverbed.
For the last two years, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has funded the work of Ancrum and District Heritage Society (ADHS), a local voluntary archaeology group.
Working in partnership with Dendrochronicle and Wessex Archaeology, it has undertaken an investigation that led to the discovery.
The remains were found under the Old Ancrum Bridge, which was built in 1784.
The community project used a combination of historical research, field survey, drone photography, dendrochronology, underwater archaeology and radiocarbon dating in its work.
Using radiocarbon dating of the discovered bridge timbers, experts confirmed a date of the mid-1300s, making it the oldest scientifically dated remains of a bridge found in its original position across one of Scotland’s rivers.
They believe the bridge was in use for about 400 years.
Initial archive research by ADHS led to the discovery of cutwater platforms and oak timbers that once supported the piers of a multi-arched bridge, hidden under the River Teviot.
These are the last remaining but also the first built parts of the bridge.
Constructed during the reigns of David II of Scotland and Edward III of England, the bridge crossed the River Teviot, carrying the “Via Regia” (The Kings Way), on its way from Edinburgh to Jedburgh and the border.
James V would have crossed here in 1526, as would Mary Queen of Scots returning from her tour of the Borders in 1566 and the Marquis of Montrose on his way to battle at Philiphaugh in 1645.
ADHS also enlisted the help of dendrochronologist Coralie Mills who helped them take samples of the timbers in the riverbed.
She was able to identify them as native oak, which is rarely found at Scottish sites after around 1450 when imported timber becomes more frequent.
Underwater archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology undertook a survey and assessment of the remains.
Timber samples were then sent to the Scottish Universities Environment Research Centre in East Kilbride for “wiggle match” radiocarbon dating and returned the results, giving a date range in the middle of the 1300s.
Kevin Grant, archaeology manager at HES, said: “HES are delighted to have played a part in funding one of the most exciting and significant archaeological discoveries in Scotland in recent years.
“This project shows that discoveries of immense importance remain to be found by local heritage groups – and what can be achieved by bringing archaeological science and expertise together with local knowledge which has helped to unlock a centuries-held secret that will add to the fabric of Scotland’s story.”
Geoff Parkhouse from ADHS said: “(The original) Ancrum Old Bridge now has a 14th century date.
“In Scotland there is not a standing bridge that is earlier than the 15th century.
“In those times, during flood or high water, the Ancrum Bridge may have been the only place to cross the Teviot between Hawick and Berwick, making it one of the most important structures in medieval Scotland.”