Inverkeithing begins archaeological exploration of 14th century convent remains

An exciting archaeological exploration of the Category A listed Friary Hospital in Inverkeithing is underway.

The building is the remaining fragment of a religious community dating back to the 14th century. The Hospitium was the part of the convent where guests were accommodated and was popular with wealthy pilgrims passing through the influential and important medieval town of Inverkeithing.

Slots for volunteer participation were taken quickly and there are high hopes for the potential of the excavations.

As a public site, archaeologists and volunteers will make every effort to welcome daily visitors to the area and explain progress as they work. A family session at the dig will take place on the afternoon of Sunday 26th June, with Forth Pilgrim heritage engagement specialists on hand to help children and adults better understand medieval life and the why, where and how pilgrimages and the Brethren of Inverkeithing.

Emma Griffiths, Training and Development Manager for the Fife Historic Buildings Trust, explained: “The excavations are the latest community engagement activity in the Burgh Inquiry, a key part of Inverkeithing’s heritage regeneration project. The results of the excavations, the two ongoing surveys of the buildings, and the research into the history of the community, will be compiled in book form.The accessible volume will also help inform future developments in the city, particularly the areas of archaeological sensitivity.

The dig follows a recent ‘reinvention challenge’ for pupils at Inverkeithing High School. Working with mentor archaeologists, planners and heritage professionals, students learned about the convent and the importance of the gardens, then pitched their ideas for creative reuse.

A student, with her back to the camera, sitting on the ground drawing the drawing for the convent outside

The youngsters said they had found the “really enjoyable experience” which had “made them more proud to come from Inverkeithing”. They skillfully presented outstanding ideas for Friary Gardens taking into account accessibility, renewable energy, economic viability and the needs of different audiences.

Fife Council’s Inverkeithing Heritage Regeneration Project is generously co-funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic Environment Scotland. Fife Historic Buildings Trust is working in partnership with Fife Council to deliver the project.

Emma added: “It has been an absolute privilege to work at Inverkeithing on this project. Before starting the role, I had no idea of ​​Roya Burgh’s long and rich medieval history. Working with local people to explore it further has been incredibly rewarding. Excavation is a particularly exciting activity, I can’t wait to see what unfolds.”

Cllr David Barratt, South & West Fife Area Committee Organiser, said: ‘It’s great to see that community members of all ages have the opportunity to learn about their historic town and develop skills through this project. Forth Pilgrim and Fife Historic Buildings Trust will be at the Inverkeithing Children’s Gala on Saturday June 25 from 12-4pm and I encourage people to stop by and chat with them about the project. It will continue until 2024 so that local people have many more opportunities to get involved.”

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