The earliest map of Aberlady, General Roy’s military map of about 1750, shows a possible iron age fort at ‘Roond Point’
History – Page being updated
‘Aberlady does not appear to have been ever the scene of any very memorable event, nor is it famous in history as the birth-place, or place of residence, of any very eminent man’ – the Rev. John Smith, 1845
Bronze age – 1900BC
In 1929, groundskeepers at Kilspindie golf course were digging a new bunker when they discovered a grave that turned out to be a ‘short cist’ burial from the early bronze age. There were two graves: one was empty but for sand and a few pieces of pottery, they were later put together to make a small food vessel; while the second grave, covered over with a large stone slab, contained the skeleton of a woman aged about 40.
In 2007, as part of a project on the Beaker People in Britain, these remains were dated to between 1900 and 2200 BC.
Numerous crop-marks in fields around Aberlady, that can be seen in aerial photographs, may indicate settlement from this early period. These include a possible palisaded enclosure in the field in front of Craigielaw golf club and farmsteads at Luffness Mains.
Iron age and Roman – 100AD
Four brooches from the Roman period, which date roughly from the centuries either side of 100 AD, were found by a metal detector in the Glebe Field, which lies immediately behind Aberlady kirk. This find is enough to suggest that a settlement here may have its origins in Roman times or even before.
By the shore, at Kilspindie golf course there are traces of the ditches and banks from a circular fort which may date from the iron age. There is also a ‘smuggler’s cave’ that may have been a type of underground passage known as a ‘souterrain’.
Anglo Saxons – 500AD
The Glebe field is behind Aberlady Kirk an archaeological excavation there in May 2016 revealed the remains of a large stone building, possibly a hall, and a series of small cellular buildings that could have been workshops, These were dated to between the sixth and ninth centuries (500 to 800 AD).
Taken together with previous finds of metalwork in the same field and the fragment of a carved stone cross found in 1863 in the garden wall of the manse – dated on the basis of its style to about 700 AD – this suggests that Aberlady was a settlement of some importance in the Anglo-Saxon period.
Medieval Aberlady – 900AD – 1250AD
In the early years of the Kingdom of Scotland, between about 900 AD and 1250, Aberlady became part of the Diocese of Dunkeld. Unfortunately many of the records of Dunkeld have been lost, which leaves information about medieval Aberlady somewhat thin on the ground.
The earliest reference to Aberlady is from about 1170, when a toft (farm) was granted to the monks of Dryburgh by Richard, bishop of Dunkeld from 1170 to 1178. The first known name from the village is Gilbert, the chaplain of Aberlady, who witnessed a document in about 1221.
Luffness Friary – 1293AD
Luffness was a friary of the Carmelites, known as White Friars; it was first mentioned in 1293 and was probably established not long before. The remains show a long, narrow church building typical of the Carmelites – the church at South Queensferry is very similar in size and shape. There is a much-degraded stone effigy of a knight, wearing the armour of the late 1200s, it is in a position within the church usually reserved for a founder’s tomb.
Local tradition claims that the knight is Bickerton, a standard bearer to Sir William Douglas who turned traitor on his master at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388 and later met a grisly end. Others say it is Henry de Pinkey, a local landowner who supported Robert the Bruce during the famous Wars of Independence in the early 14th Century.