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Cross Kirk, site of church

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland South, Shetland Islands

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Coordinates

Latitude: 59.9018 / 59°54'6"N

Longitude: -1.3318 / 1°19'54"W

OS Eastings: 437479

OS Northings: 1113160

OS Grid: HU374131

Mapcode National: GBR R22K.LFB

Mapcode Global: XHD4H.2C3Y

Entry Name: Cross Kirk, site of church

Scheduled Date: 29 October 2003

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM10976

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Dunrossness

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland South

Traditional County: Shetland

Description

The monument consists of the site of the Cross Kirk, the medieval parish church of Dunrossness, which lies within sand dunes to the north of the Bay of Quendale.

The church is now visible in the landscape as a low grass covered sand mound with a single visible recumbent graveslab on the top. The mound, which is roughly rectangular, is 2-3m high and is approximately 40m N-S by 55m E-W.

The church may have been dedicated to St Matthew, while a third of the corn teinds of the parish were in the possession of the bishop of Orkney. Post-reformation references to a prebend called the Cross Stouk in the 'college-kirk' of Dunrosness and to the 'prebendarie callit the Croce Kirk foundit within the college kirk of Dunrossness in Yeitland' suggest that Cross Kirk was a collegiate church.

The church was abandoned in 1790 when the present parish church was built, the old church being unsuitable for worship or burial for some time due to drifting sand and the encroachment of the sea. The stones of the abandoned church were apparently robbed to construct a nearby Haa or Laird's House, Quendale House, which dates from around 1800.

Three large and fine 17th-century tombstones, dedicated to various members of the Quendale branch of the Sinclair family, were within the burial ground and the church at Cross Kirk. They were removed from the site in the early 20th century.

The area to be scheduled consists of the low sand-covered mound. The scheduled area is rectangular and measures 50m N-S by 60m transversely, as is indicated in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the site of medieval parish church which had some form of collegiate foundation attached. The Cross Kirk at Dunrossness is the only collegiate church in Shetland and appears to have been a church of some considerable status, with teinds being appropriated from lands within other parishes in Shetland. Its importance continued in the post-Reformation period, becoming the parish church for the combined parish of Dunrossness, Sandwick Cunnisburgh and Fair Isle.

Although all that remains of the site is now a low sand covered mound, it is very likely that significant and substantial archaeological remains of the church and the burial ground remain buried within the wind blown sand. These have the potential to increase our understanding of the ecclesiastical organisation of Shetland in the medieval and post-Reformation periods.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as HU31SE 4.

References:

Cowan I B 1967, 'The Parishes of Medieval Scotland' SCOT REC SOC, Vol. 93.

Easson D E 1957, MEDIEVAL RELIGIOUS HOUSES IN SCOTLAND: WITH AN APPENDIX ON THE HOUSES IN THE ISLE OF MAN, London, 178.

Fotheringham W 1907, 'Notes on the old Crosskirk at Quendale in Dunrossness, Shetland, and its monumental stones', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 41, 173-180.

Goudie G 1878, 'Notice of two charters in the Norse Language, found among the papers of the Sheriff-Court in Shetland' PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 12, 472-492.

Goudie G 1904, THE CELTIC AND SCANDINAVIAN ANTIQUITIES OF SHETLAND, Edinburgh.

RCAHMS 1946, TWELFTH REPORT WITH AN INVENTORY OF THE ANCIENT MONUMENTS OF ORKNEY AND SHETLAND, 3v, Edinburgh, 14, No. 1137.

Ritchie A 1997, EXPLORING SCOTLAND'S HERITAGE: SHETLAND, Exploring Scotland's Heritage series, Edinburgh, 32.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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