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Dr. James Curle


1862 - 1944

Solicitor and archaeologist. Curle was born at Priorwood in Melrose in the Scottish Borders, the son of a solicitor whose own father, another James, had been Sir Walter Scott's business manager. Educated at Fettes College, he read law at the University of Edinburgh and became a Writer to the Signet in 1886. He joined the family firm in Melrose, but was a keen traveller and collector who amassed an important collection of antiquities from Gotland that was purchased by the British Museum in 1921. He contributed to the archaeological excavation of several sites in Scotland, but is best known for his work at Trimontium Fort, the Roman site at Newstead in the Scottish Borders, which he discovered in 1904.

Curle served as a Councillor on Roxburgh County Council (1889 - 1929), a Trustee of the National Library of Scotland and a Member of the Royal Company of Archers from 1897. He was appointed a curator of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland from 1908 and served as a Commissioner to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (1925-44), an organisation previously run by his younger brother Alexander Curle (1866 - 1955). By the 1920s, he was the first to display the distribution of Roman sites in Scotland on a map. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Aberdeen (1925)

He lies buried next to his brother in the grounds of Melrose Abbey.


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