No evidence of ice house at site

A LOCAL senior citizen with a keen interest in the history of Arbroath has approached us concerned about the buildings to be erected on the site of the former Harry Farmer Court and an adjacent area.

It is the nearby area that is causing him concern, because he believes that underneath it lies the remains of Arbroath Abbey’s ice house.

When he was a wee boy, many years ago, he and his pals used to play on that ground, and it was always known of as the location of the ice house.

At present the site is occupied by some derelict garages, and is otherwise in a rough condition.

The planning application was approved at the December meeting of Angus Council’s Development Standards Committee, and the application number was 10/00960/FULL.

We asked Historic Scotland, custodians of the Abbey, if they could shed light on the matter, but a spokeswoman said that the development site, between Sidney Street and Carnegie Street is outside the scheduled area of Arbroath Abbey so the application would not be referred to Historic Scotland.

She continued: “Our understanding is that the council consulted their archaeological advisors (the Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service) prior to the determination of the application and the permission is subject to the following archaeological condition:

“‘That no works shall take place within the development site until the developer has secured the implementation of a programme of archaeological works in accordance with a written scheme of investigation which has been submitted by the applicant, agreed by the Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service, and approved by the Planning Authority. Thereafter the developer shall ensure that the programme of archaeological works is fully implemented and that all recording and recovery of archaeological resources within the development site is undertaken to the satisfaction of the Planning Authority in agreement with the Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service.’”

We then consulted the Archeology Service, and found that the investigation has already taken place.

A spokesman told us: “The ‘Programme of Work’ was undertaken by Cameron Archaeology just before Christmas but no archaeology or structures of any kind were recorded, I am afraid.

“When trenches are excavated they are taken right down to the natural sub-soil and nothing was revealed.”

We have also been told that in the 1980s and ‘90s excavations were undertaken in the town by the Scottish Urban Archaeological Trust, but there is no mention in their reports of an Abbey ice house.

Another local man well-versed in the history of the town is Councillor Bob Spink, but he was unaware of an Abbey connection to the piece of ground, nor did he think it featured as a Common Good property.

So there the matter rests for the present.

But if any reader has information about an ice house at the Abbey - and one would think there would have been such a structure - we would be delighted if they would get in touch and share their knowledge with our readers.