The historic Ballumbie House mansion was hit by a devastating fire in 1981
Ballumbie House went up in smoke 40 years ago following a devastating fire that threatened to destroy the historic building.
More than 40 firefighters fought for more than an hour to bring the blaze under control in the building built in the 1800s.
Ballumbie House was built for David Miller in 1810 next to Ballumbie Castle which dates back to 1545 but was already a ruin in 1682.
Become a hotel in 1965
The Ballumbie House, on the Angus-Dundee border, was sold to the McGavin family in 1847, who traded flax and yarn at the height of the business.
The house was enlarged and embellished for the merchant Alexander Gilroy.
The mansion was converted into a hotel in 1965 and has been described as ‘the last venue for high class dining in the Dundee area’.
Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty performed at the hotel in the 1960s, which changed owners over the years before closing in early 1981.
The building became the target of a number of thefts and vandalism before tragedy struck on June 12, 1981 when it caught fire.
The remoteness of the building posed immediate problems for the seven aircraft that arrived on the scene.
Eventually, water was pumped from the nearest fire hydrant over a mile away and supplies had to be taken from the nearby burn to help fight a fire that had quickly set in.
A thick cloud of smoke blanketed the area and flames erupted into the air as firefighters used a rotating ladder to help contain the blaze.
Five jets continuously pumped gallons of water at the building from above, but the fire threatened to reduce the building to a shell.
The fire was finally brought under control, but 60% of the ground floor, the second floor and the attic were completely destroyed.
Remained in a sorry state
Firefighters remained on the scene overnight to cushion hot spots and ensure the flames did not wake up again.
Ballumbie House has been in a sorry state for decades.
The mansion was eventually restored to its former glory as the centerpiece of a new real estate development that began operating in the early 2000s.
A selection of apartments and penthouses have been created in the remains of the mansion thanks to a complete and sympathetic renovation.
Development work at Stewart Milne Homes found dislocated human remains to the northwest when they began preparing the site for construction in 2005.
The real estate developers informed the police and the Angus Council and brought in archaeological experts from SUAT Ltd to remove the remains to be buried elsewhere.
It was decided that full excavation was necessary as preservation was not an option.
Eight weeks of excavations have revealed the remains of the forgotten medieval church, associated with Laird’s Alley and the cemetery.
Medieval activity covered a completely unknown early Christian cemetery with a long cistus which was demarcated by a ditch.
The remains were found in May 2005.
Important archaeological discovery
The alley contained the remains of at least four human burials, one of which was in a wall tomb in the south wall.
The church contained many layers of internal burial, concentrated at its western end, and included the burial of a priest.
This site has turned out to be one of the most important medieval rural church sites excavated in Scotland.
Nine coins were recovered, probably medieval, one, perhaps two, in silver.
Organic remains were found on several objects, including possible remains of a scabbard on a possible blade.
The vast majority of iron finds were nails, several with adhering wood.
All the iron objects were mineralized.
The copper alloy finds, all heavily corroded with varying degrees of surface preservation, were represented by coins, various fragments, spoons, tags and buckles and two tubular bracelets, one with much detail remaining.
This also presented a small fragment of adherent textile and traces of contact with the leather.