Ancient Monuments

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Cranshaws House, church and burial ground 150m south east of

A Scheduled Monument in Mid Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.8472 / 55°50'49"N

Longitude: -2.5067 / 2°30'24"W

OS Eastings: 368371

OS Northings: 661670

OS Grid: NT683616

Mapcode National: GBR B0YT.3S

Mapcode Global: WH8WS.G9K9

Entry Name: Cranshaws House, church and burial ground 150m SE of

Scheduled Date: 20 February 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12422

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard

Location: Cranshaws

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Mid Berwickshire

Traditional County: Berwickshire


The monument comprises the remains of a later medieval church located to the north-west of an associated burial ground, now disused. The monument lies on a SE-facing slope of Cranshaws Hill, at around 230m above sea level.

The first known mention of the church, probably dedicated to St Ninian, dates to 1275, but excavated evidence suggests it may be an earlier foundation. Described as ruinous in 1660, the new parish church 850m to the east replaced it in 1739. The church survives as a single-cell rectangular structure that measures 19.5m east-west by 5m transversely. A 3m length of the E gable, of partially reconstructed rubble masonry, stands to a height in excess of 3m and 1m wide. Elsewhere piles of loose rubble about 1m in width and standing to a height of 0.5m mark the foundations. The foundations are less well preserved and discontinuous in the north and west of the structure. The two entrances in the southern side, identified by excavation in the 19th century, are visible as two breaks in the southern wall at its western end. A wall dividing the W end, also identified through excavation, is not now visible.

The burial ground is sub-rectangular in plan and defined by a later stone plantation boundary dyke. On its southern side this cuts into the raised area of the burial ground and in the NW corner it crosses a corner of the church foundations. A number of burials, some marked by upstanding gravestones, survive within the burial ground. Twelve sculptured stones were noted in 1925, including a figure in Jacobean dress. A portion of greywacke basin, previously noted within the boundary dyke, was not located in 1995.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in plan, bounded by the stone dykes enclosing the burial ground, to include the remains described and area around them within which related material may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Specifically excluded are the above-ground elements of the dykes, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The fragmentary upstanding remains and potentially well-preserved below-ground remains of this church have the capacity to add to our understanding of this specific early church foundation, its plan and internal arrangements, and the development of its architecture and use through time. Limited excavation within the church in 1889 uncovered burials and possibly two swords. Evidence for changed practices in worship after the Reformation, such as the probable creation of a vestry, are also present at the site, as well as evidence relating to its later state of disrepair and final abandonment.

In addition, the upstanding gravemarkers and potentially well-preserved below-ground remains of the burial ground have the potential to inform us of the development of burial traditions over time and may also inform the study of human pathology. The gravemarkers also have the capacity to contribute to knowledge of local genealogy.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is situated 150m to the south-east of Cranshaws Castle, a 16th-century tower house within which there may have been an associated chapel. A walled burial ground belonging to the castle is located within its grounds 50m to the south-west. The medieval parish church and its 18th-century successor have the capacity to inform our understanding of the inter-relationship between secular and ecclesiastical power, ecclesiastical structure and its development over time, as well as themes such as patronage and the local social hierarchy. The defensive nature of the tower house illustrates the history of aggression in this remote corner of the March, a context within which the church itself may have required defensive features, as yet unrecognised but with the potential to further inform our knowledge of this period.

Associative characteristics

Documentary sources and the historical associations that these describe greatly enhance the monument's importance. These indicate that the area has been held by various families including the Earls of March, Douglas and, from 1400 until 1702, the Swintons. In 1296 the vicar of the church, Robert de Stivelin (Stirling), swore an oath of fealty to Edward I at Berwick and had his rights restored. The church is thought to be dedicated to St Ninian as in 1515 a burial is recorded 'before the altar of St Ninian in the parish church of Cranshaws'. The church was annexed to the chapel Royal of Stirling from 1501 to 1598, and was likely to have been a prebend supporting a vicar pensioner. Documentary sources list ministers for the church from 1500 onwards.

A stone tablet displaying the arms of the Royal House of Stuart, installed in the old church in the reign of King James IV to remind the minister to offer prayers for the Royal family, is now in the present parish church. The church fell into a state of disrepair and the local community finally abandoned it in the late 17th- and early 18th centuries, largely due to sectarian tensions. Documentary sources mention related disputes concerning the non-payment of tithes and the glebe between the laird and the minister, as well as the Jacobite sympathies of the minister in the early 18th century. Evidence from the monument relating to this final phase has the potential to inform our knowledge of this period of history and augment the documentary record.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to further our understanding of a pre-Reformation rural church foundation and the development of rural ecclesiastical architecture. It also has the capacity to augment our knowledge of, and illustrate, the practical effects of the Reformation and sectarian tensions within this area and on a national scale. The monument also has an inherent potential to inform our understanding of burial practice and funerary architecture through time, as well as human pathology and local genealogy. Spatial analysis between this and other contemporary monuments may reveal valuable information on the layout and patterns of pre-Reformation religious sites within the landscape. The loss of the monument would impede our understanding of the placing of such monuments and the purpose and methods of their construction. It would also destroy evidence of the nature of the site's relationship with monuments in the immediate area.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NT66SE6. The Scottish Borders Council SMR records the church as 108/0004/01 and the burial ground as 108/0004/02.


Binnie G A C 1995, CHURCHES AND GRAVEYARDS OF BERWICKSHIRE, G A C Binnie: Berwick-upon-Tweed, 143-5, 149-51.

Brooke C J 2000, SAFE SANCTUARIES: SECURITY AND DEFENCE IN ANGLO-SCOTTISH BORDER CHURCHES 1290-1690, John Donald Publishers Ltd: Edinburgh, 50-1.

Dent J and McDonald R 2001, HERITAGE SITES IN THE BORDERS 25, Scottish Borders Council: Melrose.


RCAHMS 1980b, THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS OF BERWICKSHIRE DISTRICT, BORDERS REGION, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland Series No. 10, 47, No. 413, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Tranter N 1962, THE FORTIFIED HOUSE IN SCOTLAND, Vol. I, 16, Oliver and Boyd: Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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