Ancient Monuments

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Hilton Church, church and burial ground

A Scheduled Monument in East Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.7495 / 55°44'58"N

Longitude: -2.1938 / 2°11'37"W

OS Eastings: 387935

OS Northings: 650696

OS Grid: NT879506

Mapcode National: GBR F13Y.VT

Mapcode Global: WH9YG.8RL7

Entry Name: Hilton Church, church and burial ground

Scheduled Date: 11 August 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12516

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard

Location: Whitsome

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: East Berwickshire

Traditional County: Berwickshire


The monument comprises the former parish church of Hilton and its burial ground, likely to be late medieval in origin. It is visible as a ruined building, the earthwork remains of the adjacent burial ground and at least 25 burial markers. The church was dedicated by Bishop de Bernham in 1243. It occupies the crest of a small hill at the W end of the hamlet of Hilton, approximately 85m above sea level.

Preserved as turf-covered wall footings and a section of standing wall (at the church's E end), the remains of Hilton Church are surrounded by the overgrown burial ground. The church is aligned approximately ENE-WSW and measures around 15m ENE-WSW by around 7m transversely. The E gable survives, measuring around 2m in length, 1m thick and standing to around 10 courses high. The surrounding burial ground is irregularly-shaped and, although it does not have an obvious enclosure wall, the bank surrounding the site may represent the remains of one. Within the area numerous gravestones are visible. All visible gravestones appear to date from the 18th century although records indicate earlier examples may survive.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, bounded on the E, W and S by a post-and-wire fence and on the N by the base of the bank of the burial ground, to include the remains described. Specifically excluded are the above-ground elements of the post-and-wire fence marking the boundary and the above-ground elements of the telegraph pole in the NE corner, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

Rural church sites of the later medieval period rarely survive in any upstanding form and Hilton Church is a well-preserved example of its type. Although little of the building survives, we know the surviving remains predate the church's probable end of use in 1734, when the parish of Hilton was united to Whitsome. Many similar churches were reused as burial enclosures after they fell out of use, but this does not appear to have happened at Hilton, suggesting the surviving fabric has not been modified. There is excellent potential for the preservation of buried deposits around the church that could reveal earlier building phases as well as illustrating the construction and subsequent development of the present building. The burial ground is likely to contain interments associated with one or more of the phases of use of the church. In addition, buried deposits may reveal valuable information about the later medieval period in the area and the people living there at the time.

Contextual characteristics

This church was part of a network of parish churches covering Scotland and served as a central place of worship, prayer, baptism and burial for the local community. Hilton parish appears to have lain within the jurisdiction of the See of St Andrews, as Bishop de Bernham would appear to be David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews,who dedicated a number of parish churches in this region in 1243, including Ellem and Longformacus. Hilton Church was part of the wider organisation of religion in later medieval Scotland. Comparison of the local ecclesiastical architectural features in this area with those at other Scottish churches may enhance our understanding of regional variation in ecclesiastical architectural in the later medieval period. The location of the church, on a small hill crest overlooking the low-lying and relatively level farming land around would make it quite prominent in the landscape when it was complete.

Associative characteristics

Hilton Church was dedicated in 1243 by David de Bernham, the Bishop of St Andrews, and likely went out of use around 1734, when the parish of Hilton was united with that of Whitsome.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular later medieval church organisation and religious practices in SE Scotland. This potential is enhanced by the relative rarity of this type of monument and the good survival of this example enhances its value. The loss of this monument would impede our understanding of later medieval parish churches in SE Scotland and our ability to understand the later medieval and Reformation periods in Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The RCAHMS record the site as NT85SE 10: Hilton Church and Churchyard.


(No associated references)

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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