Ancient Monuments

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Newburn Old Parish Church

A Scheduled Monument in East Neuk and Landward, Fife

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.2211 / 56°13'15"N

Longitude: -2.8836 / 2°53'1"W

OS Eastings: 345301

OS Northings: 703522

OS Grid: NO453035

Mapcode National: GBR 2N.D03G

Mapcode Global: WH7SJ.PW1P

Entry Name: Newburn Old Parish Church

Scheduled Date: 12 December 2001

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM9848

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Newburn

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: East Neuk and Landward

Traditional County: Fife

Description

The monument consists of the shell of the medieval parish church of Newburn, with later additions and modifications, together with the surrounding churchyard.

A church was in existence here by the second quarter of the twelfth century, when it was confirmed to Dunfermline Abbey by the Bishop of St Andrews, having been granted to the abbey a short time previously by David I. A dedication by Bishop David de Bernham is recorded in 1243, though this was probably a conditional dedication unrelated to any building operations.

In its final state the church appears to have been a two-cell structure, with a rectangular chancel of 3.8m internal width, and a rectangular nave of 4.5m internal width; the overall internal length is 16.8m. There are signs of a chancel arch having been removed.

The main entrance is a round-headed doorway towards the W end of the S wall, and there are traces of a number of doorways and windows of various dates along the S face of both nave and chancel. The absence of medieval windows in the E and W gable walls, together with the scarcement at the height of the eaves of the side walls, indicates a late medieval date for the church in its existing state.

The walls and gables are largely complete to the wall-head. Around the site of the principal altar, at the E end of the chancel, are a number of liturgical fixtures. There is part of an arched piscina in the S wall, now cut by the damaged jamb of a blocked window. In the N wall is a sacrament house with a moulded pointed arch above a rectangular aumbry. There are two rectangular aumbries in the E wall, which may be medieval in origin.

Various changes were made to adapt the church for reformed worship. An early 18th century rectangular laird's aisle was added on the N side, giving the church a T-shaped plan, entered through an arched doorway with block keystone and imposts in the middle of the N wall. The elevated floor level of the aisle suggests there is a burial vault below.

Around the same time a square birdcage bellcote was built at the apex of the W gable; it has baluster shafts and a strapped ball finial. The former existence of a loft within the W end of the church is indicated by an elevated blocked doorway in the W gable wall.

The church was abandoned for worship in 1815 when a new church, to the designs of Alexander Leslie, was completed to its W. That later church has itself now fallen out of use, and was converted into a house in 1970. After abandonment for use for worship, the old church was put to use as a burial enclosure, and now contains a number of memorials.

The area to be scheduled is a rectangle measuring about 46 m from east to west and 45m from north to south Any residual burial rights are also excluded. This area is marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a largely complete example of a two-compartment medieval parish church. It derives additional interest from the evidence it provides of the adaptations that were carried out to adapt it for reformed worship.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NO 40 SE 1.

References:

Anderson, A. A. (1922) 'Early Sources of Scottish History', Vol. 2, 523.

Cowan, I. (1967) 'Parishes of Medieval Scotland' (Scottish Record Society), 156.

Gifford, J. (1988) 'Buildings of Scotland, Fife', 334.

RCAHMS (1922) Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 'Inventory of Fife', 222.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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