Biggar Town – Urban Archaeological Project and brief history

Limited excavation was undertaken at Covington Tower and Doocot in 1982 in advance of proposed consolidation works on the site to make it safe as a visitor attraction. The restoration scheme as envisaged was never completed. A few archaeological details of the site were however revealed.

A Project to investigate the townscape of Biggar was initiated in 1999 by Biggar Archaeology Group (BAG). The intent was to test pit at available locations within the town boundary to establish the nature of any archaeological deposits which may have existed.

The town of Biggar is surrounded by ancient archaeological sites dating back to the Late Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Early and Late Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages, and Roman and later periods. The Roman road from the south almost certainly passed somewhere through the town (RCAHMS 1978). Artefacts from all these periods have been found out with the town, which also has a history dating back to the mid-12th century.

Biggar appears on historical record in 1164 with mention of Robert, who was the first parson of Biggar (Irving & Murray 1864). Stone fragments of a 12th century church are preserved in the existing church which dates to 1545-7. The town has a massive motte which probably held the timber castellated caput of Baldwin De Bigre, the first Sheriff of Lanark who is on record from 1170. The plan of Biggar still retains the classic early medieval layout with the nucleus of church, castle mound and Main Street. Later medieval land boundaries are traceable in the closes and pends, which lead off the broad market street, itself originally much wider, to the back lands of crofts and rigs.

Download the Biggar Town – Urban Archaeology project Report