Ancient Monuments

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Temple, Old Parish Church

A Scheduled Monument in Midlothian South, Midlothian

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Latitude: 55.8169 / 55°49'0"N

Longitude: -3.0943 / 3°5'39"W

OS Eastings: 331523

OS Northings: 658720

OS Grid: NT315587

Mapcode National: GBR 61T5.WN

Mapcode Global: WH6TF.F2Q1

Entry Name: Temple, Old Parish Church

Scheduled Date: 28 April 1920

Last Amended: 29 October 1999

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1191

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Temple

County: Midlothian

Electoral Ward: Midlothian South

Traditional County: Midlothian


The monument comprises the remains of Temple Old Parish Church and claustral remains. The monument was first scheduled in 1920 and rescheduled in 1971. On each occasion an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The site of the church (originally known as Balantrodoch) was the principal preceptory of the Templars in Scotland. Its foundation is attributed to David I, although the first documentary evidence for the house is from 1175-1199. At the suppression of the Templars in 1312, their lands at Temple were transferred to the Hospitallers, after which time the church became a parish church, in use until the present church was built in 1832

The remains of the upstanding church consist of a single chambered oblong structure measuring about 17m by 5.5m internally. The medieval fabric is remarkably intact although the west end of the church was rebuilt and perhaps extended after the Reformation. This area of the church contained a gallery or loft, and other 17th-century alterations included the addition of a simple bellcote to the east gable.

The medieval fabric was laid out symmetrically with buttress at each end of the east gable and along the lateral walls: those on the northern wall are missing. The lateral walls each had three windows, with a small pointed lancet at the west end and two large windows at the east end, each of three lights infilled with intersecting geometric tracery.

However, the westernmost traceried window in the north wall has been blocked up. The east gable is almost filled with a very large window, again of three lights with intersecting geometric tracery. The eastern entry to the church was through a pointed trefoil headed doorway in the north wall. Within the interior of the church several medieval features survive, two sedilia, a piscina, and a tomb recess.

The form of the tracery in the windows suggests a 14th-century date for the majority of the church, although it may contain fragments of older masonry which relate to the Templar occupation of the site.

The area to be scheduled includes the church itself and an area around it, in which associated claustral remains can be expected to be found. The area is irregular in shape defined to the S and W by the boundary wall of the burial ground. Any active burial lairs are excluded from the scheduled area. The area has maximum dimensions of 46m NW-SE and 48m NE-SW as marked in red on the attached map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a rare example of a well-preserved 14th-century parish church; as such it contributes to an understanding of medieval art, architecture, religious practices and material culture. Its importance is enhanced by the well-documented association of the site with the Hospitallers and, before them, with the Templars, and is further enhanced by its potential for adding to our knowledge of the Templar's principal preceptory in Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NT 35 NW 1.


Cowan, I. B., Mackay, P. H. R. and Macquarrie, A. (1983) (eds) The Knights of St John of Jerusalem in Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish History Society.

Easson, D. E. (1975) Medieval religious houses in Scotland: with an appendix on the houses in the Isle of Man, London, 131.

Hay, G. (1973) The architecture of Scottish post-Reformation churches, 1560-1843, Oxford, 266.

MacGibbon, D. and Ross, T. (1896) 'The ecclesiastical architecture of Scotland from the earliest Christian times to the seventeenth century', 3v, Edinburgh, 486-91.

RCAHMS (1929) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Tenth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the counties of Midlothian and West Lothian, Edinburgh, 176-8, No. 268.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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