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St Andrew's Church, North Berwick

A Scheduled Monument in North Berwick Coastal, East Lothian

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Latitude: 56.0608 / 56°3'38"N

Longitude: -2.7177 / 2°43'3"W

OS Eastings: 355403

OS Northings: 685562

OS Grid: NT554855

Mapcode National: GBR 2V.Q1CT

Mapcode Global: WH7TD.7X2L

Entry Name: St Andrew's Church, North Berwick

Scheduled Date: 15 April 1999

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6681

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: North Berwick

County: East Lothian

Electoral Ward: North Berwick Coastal

Traditional County: East Lothian


The monument consists of the remains of the original parish church of North Berwick, thought to have been built in the 12th century, although the dedication of the site to St. Andrew may date from an earlier century.

The church is located in the harbour area of North Berwick. It was excavated by the late Dr R.S. Richardson in 1951. Indication of the existence of a church here is given prior to 1177 in a charter by Duncan, Earl of Fife, which was witnessed by Richard, chaplain of St. Andrew of North Berwick.

Originally the church was a simple rectangle consisting of a nave, choir and presbytery. The church was widened in later years, arcading replacing the original side walls creating N and S aisles and small projecting transept aisles. A W tower and a S projecting porch, were added in the 15th century. The only substantial portion of the church surviving is the S porch, although much of the ground-plan survives as foundations varying in height from about 0.2m to 1.4m. The base of a large stone font lies near the W end. Most of the surrounding graveyard and the E end of the church has been eroded away by the sea.

The remains of the church measure about 22m E-W by about 15.5 m N-S overall. The S porch (protected beneath a modern slate roof) is rectangular, gabled with a vaulted ceiling. It has central buttresses on its E and W walls. It measures about 5.6m E-W by 3.8m N-S. A segmental-headed entrance with a bold quirked edge-roll moulding survives in the S gable. The opening in the N gable has been enlarged from its original arched form and a lintel inserted. In the interior NW angle is a small fireplace and a stone basin adjacent to the E jamb of the entrance.

The church was abandoned in the seventeenth century due to undermining by the sea.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in shape with maximum dimensions of 26m E-W by a maximum of 44m SW-NE, to include the surviving remains of the church, but excluding the top 30 centimetres of the pedestrian path which bounds the E side of the area. The modern house impinging on the W tower foundation, is also excluded. The area is marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it is a good example, although reduced, of a parish church related through ownership to the Nunnery of North Berwick, and known to be in existence from the 12th century. The church was granted to the Nuns of North Berwick in a charter from Malcolm, Earl of Fife (d. 1228).

It was a resting place for pilgrims on their journey to St Andrews by the 'Earl's Ferry'. A hospital for pilgrims and the poor existed near here in the late 12th century. It was served by a vicar appointed by the Prioress of North Berwick until the Reformation.

The church is thought to have been the meeting place of the North Berwick witches in 1590, who under the leadership of Francis Stuart, Earl of Bothwell, plotted to drown King James VI. Although excavated in 1951, the remains of the church still preserve evidence for the evolution of a building from the single chambered chapel of the 12th century to the complex cruciform edifice with aisled arcades and W tower of the 16th century.

This development reflects local patronage, increasing sophistication in architectural taste, and the growth and importance of the burgh of North Berwick during the later Middle Ages.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NT 58 NE 3.


Ferrier, W. M. (1980) The North Berwick Story.

Grose, F. (1789-91) The Antiques of Scotland, Vol. 1, 77.

RCAHMS (1924) East Lothian, 57-8, No. 103.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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