THE RESTORATION of one of the Scottish Borders’ most significant hilltop monuments has been completed following a £128,000 funding injection and the efforts of a group of 30 local volunteers.

The Monteath Douglas Mausoleum, near Ancrum, a gem of Victorian architecture, has been restored thanks to the tireless effort of the Friends of Monteath Mausoleum.

The Mausoleum is the tomb of General Sir Thomas Monteath Douglas (1788-1868), whose daughter was married to Sir William Monteath Scott of Ancrum.

General Monteath Douglas had spent most of his life serving with the 35th Bengal Infantry in India and chose the solitary and commanding position at the top of Gersit Law on his son-in-law’s lands to build his tomb.

The tomb was built by local craftsmen in 1864, however it fell into disrepair after being abandoned in 1964 following the death of the last family member.

More than half a century of neglect had taken its toll on the Grade B listed building, which had been on the Buildings at Risk Scotland register, with wind and rain causing significant internal and structural damage.

However, renovation work began last June, thanks to generous funding from several charitable bodies, and features such as the 48 distinctive rooftop glass stars were painstakingly restored.

The Fallago Environment Fund, which shares the benefits of the Fallago Wind Farm Development right across the Borders, provided £59,444 whilst the FCC Communities Foundation, a charitable foundation run by waste management company FCC Environment, donated £59,450.

A further £10,000 was provided through a Berwickshire Community Councils’ Forum (BCCF) Environmental grant.

After the structural work had been completed, more than 200 volunteer hours were required before the Mausoleum was finally returned to its former glory, complete with new safety measures and improved accessibility.

Speaking on behalf of The Friends of the Monteath Mausoleum, David Freeman said; “The Friends are thrilled with the successful completion of this project and would like to thank Fallago, FCC Communities Foundation and BCCF Environmental for their generous funding package.

“We look forward to sharing the joy of this spectacular building for years to come.”

Gareth Baird, Chairman, Fallago Environment Fund, said; “The Fallago Environment Fund aims to enhance the cultural, natural and built heritage of the Scottish Borders and our support of this very special project fulfils all of those objectives.

“The Monteath Douglas Mausoleum is a beautiful piece of historic architecture in a stunning location with fabulous views over the countryside and we’re delighted that we have been able to able to support the restoration and preservation of such a fascinating Borders landmark for local people and visitors to enjoy.”

FCC Communities Foundation Grant Manager, Sophie Cade said: “We are delighted to have been part of this unique project.

“Huge congratulations to the Friends group for achieving a remarkable restoration and breathing life back into this magnificent building.”

A BCCF Environmental spokesperson said: “BCCF Environmental is pleased to have been able to provide financial support to the endeavours of the Friends and hopes the restored monument will prove to be a well-visited attraction.”

Walkers, cyclists and horse riders will have access to the Mausoleum throughout the year.

Vehicle access will be enabled during six Open Weekends each year, with a guide available to assist less-abled visitors and families to enjoy the surroundings.

Visitors wishing to see the angel sculptures and star chamber inside the crypt can obtain a key from the Lothian Estates office in Bonjedward for a small fee.

Friends of Monteath Mausoleum are currently in discussions with other stakeholders to improve footpath links to the mausoleum from other tourist attractions in the area.