Ancient Monuments

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Whitekirk, remains of Pilgrims' Houses around Tithe Barn

A Scheduled Monument in North Berwick Coastal, East Lothian

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Latitude: 56.0259 / 56°1'33"N

Longitude: -2.6491 / 2°38'56"W

OS Eastings: 359639

OS Northings: 681629

OS Grid: NT596816

Mapcode National: GBR 2X.SBT1

Mapcode Global: WH8VR.8SRW

Entry Name: Whitekirk, remains of Pilgrims' Houses around Tithe Barn

Scheduled Date: 27 November 1998

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7850

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: domestic buildings

Location: Whitekirk and Tyninghame

County: East Lothian

Electoral Ward: North Berwick Coastal

Traditional County: East Lothian


The monument comprises the remains of early 15th-century pilgrims' houses associated with the pilgrimage centre which developed around the medieval parish church of St Mary, and its nearby healing well, in the late medieval period.

Documentary sources indicate that the houses were built in the early 15th century and demolished in the early 16th, with much of the masonry being re-used in the construction of a tower house, built for Oliver Sinclair ca. 1540. The tower house was extended and adapted in the 17th century to form the parish's tithe barn and was converted to a permanent dwelling in the late 1990s.

Excavation to the immediate W of the tithe barn in 1995 revealed the in situ and demolished structural remains of two buildings believed to form part of the pilgrims' houses complex. A watching brief to the immediate S of the tithe barn identified similar evidence of other demolished structures. The tithe barn stands near the centre of a long ridge of high ground with the holy well lying 200 ENE. It is likely that the pathway which linked the houses with the well followed the crest of the ridge.

The area to be scheduled is approximately oval in shape and follows the contour at the base of the ridge of ground on which the tithe barn sits. It has maximum dimensions of 38m N-S and 95m ENE-WNW and includes the excavated remains and the remainder of the ridge, on which associated remains are expected to survive. Excluded from the scheduling is the tithe barn itself and an area around it which extends 3m beyond its walls. The area is marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the remains of 15th-century Pilgrims' houses associated with the pilgrimage centre at St Mary's Church, Whitekirk. The monument has the potential to increase our understanding of the nature of medieval pilgrimage in Scotland and our knowledge of the domestic and ecclesiastical architecture of that period.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NT 58 SE 12.


GeoQuest Associates (1995) Geophysical Surveys at Whitekirk, near North Berwick, East Lothian.

Headland Archaeology Ltd. (1997) Data Structure Report for an archaeological evaluation and watching brief at Whitekirk Tithe Barn, East Lothian.

McGibbon, D. and Ross, T. (1897) The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, Vol. III, 269-179.

McWilliam, C. E. (1978) The Buildings of Scotland: Lothian, 467-468.

RCAHMS (1924) Inventory of Historical and Ancient Monuments: East Lothian.

Sydeserff, D. (1996) East Lothian Field Names. Transactions of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalist Society, Vol. XXII, 49-85.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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