Ancient Monuments

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Little Dalton Church

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale South, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.0583 / 55°3'29"N

Longitude: -3.4275 / 3°25'39"W

OS Eastings: 308912

OS Northings: 574688

OS Grid: NY089746

Mapcode National: GBR 49HY.RJ

Mapcode Global: WH6XY.B422

Entry Name: Little Dalton Church

Scheduled Date: 7 November 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12101

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Dalton

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale South

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the remains of Little Dalton kirk, a medieval to early-modern parish church, with upstanding remains dating from the 13th to 17th centuries. It lies on the E side of Dalton Burn on a raised 'platform' within what is now pasture. It is marked on all editions of the Ordnance Survey map as Little Dalton Church (remains of).

Little Dalton is mentioned in several 17th-century documents, including a letter from James VI to the Privy Council, dated 1615.

The church is T-shaped in plan, with a rectangular nave oriented WSW/ESE, a square off-centre NNW aisle and a sacristy on the NNW wall. You enter the aisle through a round-headed arch with projecting imposts, on the NNW side of the nave. The Little Dalton Kirk Trust has consolidated the walls in the recent past. They stand to 2-4m in height. Three windows with rectangular rear-arches survive intact: a small lancet, one round-arched and one rectangular window. Tumble still exists internally but some rubble has been moved and is piled up on the northern side of the graveyard enclosure. Also included in the scheduling are the remains of a burial ground, enclosed by a wall, which continued in use into the 18th century. Most of the gravestones are 18th-century but one bears the date 1665. The burial ground is that of the Carruthers family of Holmains. The whole site is fenced off. There is an interpretation board, erected and maintained by the Little Dalton Kirk Trust, on the WSW end of the enclosed area.

The area proposed for scheduling is irregular on plan, to include the remains of the church, graveyard and enclosure and an area around them within which associated remains are likely to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Specifically excluded from the scheduling to allow for their maintenance are the above-ground elements of the interpretation board and the fence enclosing the monument.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is a relatively well-preserved example of a medieval and early-modern church with upstanding remains dating from the 13th to 17th centuries, and possibly earlier. Despite some evidence of consolidation into a romantic ruin in the Victorian period and some clearance of loose stone in the 1960s, this monument retains well-constructed drystone walls and diagnostic architectural features. It includes the church itself, as well as gravestones, an enclosure wall and archaeological remains likely to survive in situ.

The site has considerable potential to enhance understanding of medieval parish churches and religious practices in the area. Little Dalton represents the accumulated remains of successive renovations and repairs on a single site and therefore has the potential to provide information relating to at least six centuries. In the 1960s, archaeologists demonstrated by excavation that the church had been built in the 13th or perhaps even 12th century. The building underwent a phase of reconstruction in the 15th century, before falling out of use in the 17th century. The church therefore demonstrates the tendency before the 19th century to adapt existing buildings rather than construct new ones. The surrounding graveyard carried on in use until the 18th century, it being the family burial ground of the Carruthers of Holmains. The Little Dalton Kirk Trust has undertaken some conservation and consolidation in the recent past.

Excavators found some medieval pottery and a Richmond copper farthing (1625-34) during the 1960s excavations, as well as a rectangular stone feature against the E gable that may have been an altar. Excavators also found some skeletal material in a charnel pit in 1974.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is a good representative of a once numerous class. Of the 39 churches known to have held parochial status in eastern Dumfriesshire before the Reformation, substantial remains survive of only three, including St Mungo, Kirkbank, Dalton and Little Dalton. Factors including repeated modification and reconstruction, political and social unrest and natural attrition (for example, coastal erosion) have greatly reduced or even destroyed other churches. Together with the remains of churches such as St Mungo (also to be scheduled) and Dalton (already scheduled and Category B-listed), the remains at Little Dalton retain the potential to provide information on medieval and post-medieval religious practice. The survival of 17th-century documents relating to these churches enhances this potential. Comparison of the local ecclesiastical architectural features in this area with those on other Scottish churches may enhance our understanding of regional variation in ecclesiastical architecture between the medieval period and the 19th century. The existence of several phases of reconstruction and consolidation, potentially spanning six centuries or more, together with surviving primary documents, provides a unique opportunity to obtain a better understanding of the development of ecclesiastical architecture and religious life on a single site over a long period of time.

Associative characteristics

The monument is the product of medieval and post-medieval ecclesiastical, ritual and funerary practices. Developments in religious practice have affected the history of the site, particularly following the Reformation of 1560. Parliament united the parishes of Meikle Dalton and Little Dalton in 1609 but James VI then joined Mouswald to Little Dalton in a letter to the Privy Council of 27 May 1615. Dalton was united to Meikle Dalton again on 28 June 1633. Meikle Dalton Church then became the focus of worship for parishioners, Little Dalton Kirk falling out of use.

The church is associated with the village of Little Dalton, of which now only a ruined mill remains (...

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the church as NY07SE11. Little Dalton Church and Churchyard is Category B-listed (HB number 3375).


C/66651 20 March 1996 RCAHMS Little Dalton Church; burial ground: View of exterior from SW.

C/66652 20 March 1996 RCAHMS Little Dalton Church; burial ground: Exterior from WNW.

C/66653 20 March 1996 RCAHMS Little Dalton Church; burial ground: General view of church and burial ground from ESE.

C/66654 20 March 1996 RCAHMS Little Dalton Church; burial ground: General view of church and burial ground from NE.

C/66655 20 March 1996 RCAHMS Little Dalton Church; burial ground: Interior from SE corner, showing table-tomb.

C/66656 20 March 1996 RCAHMS Little Dalton Church; burial ground: View of interior from SW corner.

C/66657 20 March 1996 RCAHMS Little Dalton Church; burial ground: View from interior of lancet window in S wall.

C/66658 20 March 1996 RCAHMS Little Dalton Church; burial ground: Window in S wall.

C/66659 20 March 1996 RCAHMS Little Dalton Church; burial ground: Window in S wall.

C/66660 20 March 1996 RCAHMS Little Dalton Church; burial ground: Window-mouldings, lying on ground in front of N aisle.

C/66661 20 March 1996 RCAHMS Little Dalton Church; burial ground: Window-moulding, lying on ground in front of N aisle.

C/66662 20 March 1996 RCAHMS Little Dalton Church; burial ground: Window-moulding, lying on ground in front of N aisle.



Crowe C 1984, ?Excavation at Brydekirk, Annan. 1982-1984?, TRANS DUMFRIESSHIRE GALLOWAY ANTIQ NATUR HIST SOC (3rd series), 59, 40.

Gifford J 1996, DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY, The Buildings of Scotland Series, London, 218.



Thomson T H 1845, ?PARISH OF DALTON, PRESBYTERY OF LOCHMABEN, SYNOD OF DUMFRIES?, in The New Statistical Account of Scotland, 4, 371.

Truckell A E 1974, ?Little Dalton Church?, DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT, 29.

Williams J 1968, ?Little Dalton?, DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT, 17.

Williams J 1969, ?Little Dalton Parish Church?, DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT, 21.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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