The Monks

Twelth Century to 1581

In the 12th century King David I granted the Cistercian monks of Melrose the lands where Newbattle Abbey now stands, which included the area around Monkton House, to farm, pan for salt and to mine for coal.


Sometime between 1450 and 1490, the monks built the original two towers as a safe house. As protection against witches and evil spirits they incorporated scallop shells in the stone, placed a black basalt block in the base to allow witches to exit but not enter, and embedded dead cats in the wall.

They continued adding to the building, and at one point Monkton House and Monkton Cottage were joined by wings to form a courtyard, within which stood the Routing Well, which is now covered over. This well was said to predict storms by roaring or making a rumbling noise like the din of copper smiths.

Newbattle Abbey was immensely powerful, and owned vast tracts of land all over the lowlands of Scotland. The Abbey hosted kings and queens numerous times over the centuries, advising them in times of trouble. It was burnt down by the English on several occasions, so many of the original records have been lost.