Lost Monastery close to being found as Book of Deer Project

The Book of Deer Project is celebrating a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £10,000 to further its archaeological work.

The project, a community-based initiative, has been the catalyst for renewed academic interest in research in this part of Aberdeenshire.

Archaeological teams have been searching for the lost Monastery of Deer for more than nine years and are now tantalisingly close to being able to say that it has been found. 

Book of Deer Project Chair, Anne Simpson, said: “This is a tremendous boost for our project and will allow us to continue the exciting search for the monastery of Deer which seems so close after last year’s dig.” 

A two-week excavation with an associated schools programme featuring local Aberdeenshire primary and secondary schools, medieval pottery workshops and storytelling will take place from June 24 to July 8.

Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland, said: “Uncovering where, and how, our ancestors lived helps communities to understand their own history and identity. Thanks to National Lottery players, HLF is able to support projects such as the Book of Deer Project that produce tantalising clues about the past and provide volunteers with new skills.”

Project Archaeologist, Ali Cameron, said: “This is my fifth year working on the project and this is the closest we have come to buildings which may date to the early medieval period.

“It is a wonderful project with great volunteers and we would all be so excited if this turns out to be the monastery we have been looking for. This would be the icing on the cake!”

Aberdeenshire Council Archaeologist, Bruce Mann, said: “The finds from last year suggest the lost monastery has finally been located. This summer I’m hoping that definitive evidence can be found which confirms this.

“The community effort over the last few years to try to find the site has been tremendous and deserves to be rewarded.”