South Scotland

Treasures unearthed in work at Sir Walter Scott's home

Abbotsford House
Image caption A major renovation process is currently under way at Abbotsford

An array of "architectural treasures" has been unearthed as the former home of Sir Walter Scott in the Scottish Borders undergoes a major overhaul.

Decorated floors, an ancient well and a private gas works are among the items discovered at Abbotsford House.

Curator Matthew Withey said they had expected the renovations would "yield some fascinating finds".

The main house is closed to the public until next year but a new visitor centre is due to open this summer.

Kelso company M&J Ballantyne is currently carrying out the conservation and refurbishment works on the estate which Scott bought a little more than 200 years ago.

It will see many of its famous rooms restored, new offices and an education suite developed as well as converting a wing of the house into visitor accommodation.

The works have already revealed a number of surprise discoveries.

The floors under carpets outside Scott's former study are painted in a marble effect.

It is thought to be part of the original decorative scheme commissioned by Scott from David Ramsay Hay who later decorated Holyrood Palace for Queen Victoria.

Other secrets

Tradesmen have also unearthed part of the private gas works at Abbotsford.

The house was one of the first in Scotland to have gas lighting - although the fumes from the works are reputed to have contributed to Scott's poor health in later years.

Workers have also discovered a well within the house which appears to come from the period before Scott purchased the estate at Abbotsford in 1811.

Mr Withey said: "We always hoped that the restoration work at Abbotsford would yield some fascinating finds and we have not been disappointed.

"The treasures uncovered so far are a wonderful insight into the history of this amazing property and help tell us much about the way Scott lived and his love of craftsmanship and innovation.

"We're greatly looking forward to seeing what other secrets will be uncovered as the project progresses."

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