Where is 12th century treasure?

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The daughter of a former Arbroath minister wonders what happened to the 12th century ‘bird bath’ that was in their front garden.

Mrs Lynne Arnott, daughter of the late Rev. W.E. Gladstone-Millar, MC, who was minister of St Margaret’s Church from 1922 to 1960, apart from five years when he was away on war service, relates that she was born and brought up in the manse in Keptie Road.

Shortly after her father retired in 1960, the building was demolished as the kirk session was of the opinion that ‘no modern minister would live in it’.

She continued: “In front of the manse was a rockery built of old stone and a bird bath. It was only in comparatively recent times when I was looking at photographs that a thought struck me.

“I sent copies of the photographs to Mr Graham Ritchie, who was then director of the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland with a query - what did he make of the bird bath?”

The reply came back: “It is difficult to tell from an old photograph, but I would say almost certainly that it is a hand-hewn 12th century mortar from Arbroath Abbey, and that looks like a carved capital beside it.”

Mrs Arnott then asked the logical question: “What happened to the ‘bird bath’ when the manse was demolished. Did it get thrown into a skip or did someone save it and use it as a bird bath as we did?”

She made inquiries and a friend did a thorough search around what is left of the trees in what was the manse garden, but nothing was found.

Mrs Arnott, a well-known former journalist, would be pleased if someone knew what had happened to the ancient stone item. If anyone has any information she can be contacted by telephone on 0131 441 3567.

Alternatively, call the Arbroath Herald on 01241 872274, by e-mail at arbroath.herald@jnscotland.co.uk, at www.facebook.com/arbroath.herald or www.twitter.com/Arbroath_Herald.