Greyfriars Garden


The foundations of the last monastic house to be founded in Scotland are laid out within a public garden.

A group of followers of St Francis of Assissi, known as Observant Fransiscans, opened a number of religious houses in Scotland in the later 15th century. The last of these, at Jedburgh, was in existence by 1505 AD. This house suffered badly in a series of English attacks on Jedburgh, mostly notable in 1523, 1544 and 1545. The last of these raids was particularly destructive and the friary was amongst a list of places described as "brent, rased and caste down". The friary may not have been properly repaired after this final attack and may have closed before the Reformation in 1560. In the following years, all of the buildings were demolished and the stones reused elsewhere in the town. The site was excavated by archaeologists during the early 1980s and was laid out as a garden in 1993.

Steps provide access to Garden. Rough grass paths to view parts of old friary, trees and herb garden. Steps to further viewpoint. Even though nothing remains standing above ground, what remains is still the most extensive Franciscan Friary to be seen in Scotland. In the 15th century, Sir Andrew Ker of Ferniehirst provided this site so that the religious order of St Francis might establish a community in Jedburgh. To distinguish them from the ‘black friars’ of the Dominican order, the Franciscans were known as ‘grey friars’ from the colour of their habit or gown. Unlike other orders, the ‘grey friars’ had close links with the community and they provided services such as healing the sick and teaching the locals. Much of the former Friary was used as a market garden and in 1982 development proposals led to an archaeological investigation.

The site was investigated over two years with the Cooperative Society providing funds for further work in 1991-92. The following year, Borders Regional Council consolidated the site. To illustrate where there are remains under ground, brown gravel between sandstone edging represents original walls, drains are shown with grey cobbles and graves are marked by white gravel. Remnants of walls under the car park are marked by red setts and drains by grey. The present garden is based on historical research and has been laid out to reflect medieval interest in horticulture and the science of healing. The friars would have been self-sufficient in most things as they grew flowers, vegetables, medicinal herbs and plants that were used for other purposes, such as floor covering and dyes for clothing.