Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Horndean Church, church and burial ground

A Scheduled Monument in Mid Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 55.7397 / 55°44'22"N

Longitude: -2.1528 / 2°9'10"W

OS Eastings: 390503

OS Northings: 649595

OS Grid: NT905495

Mapcode National: GBR F2D2.QB

Mapcode Global: WH9YG.XZ1S

Entry Name: Horndean Church, church and burial ground

Scheduled Date: 25 March 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12932

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Ladykirk

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Mid Berwickshire

Traditional County: Berwickshire


The monument comprises the ruins of a church dedicated to the Holy Rood. The first mention of a church at this location occurs in the 12th century. The church lies within a fenced enclosure at a height of around 40m above sea level. The site is situated at the head of a slope running down to a stream on the east and to the River Tweed approximately 400m to the south.

Reduced to turf-covered foundations, the remains of Horndean parish church lie within an overgrown burial enclosure that is defined by a modern fence on the line of an earlier collapsed wall. The enclosure measures 34m ENE by 32m transversely. The church is aligned ENE-WSW and measures approximately 14.5m by 6.5m within walls up to 1m thick. The walls are best preserved on the N and E sides where they survive as a turf-covered mound up to 0.5m in height, while on the west and south the outline is less apparent and is overgrown by rank vegetation. The burial ground contains several gravestones, although others may have been removed (one report suggests several stones were sold for sharpening scythes). The church was founded in the 12th century and granted by William de Vetteriponte to Kelso Abbey. David de Bernham granted the income of the parsonage and vicarage to Kelso Abbey in return for a chaplain. It is not known when the church was abandoned, but it may have been out of use by the late 16th or 17th century, although burials continued in the burial ground into the 19th century.

The area to be scheduled is sub-rectangular on plan, to include the remains described, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground elements of all burial monuments, as well as the above-ground elements of all fences and stone walls, and the wooden enclosures around the saplings to allow for their continued maintenance. Also specifically excluded from the scheduled area is a 3m x 3m burial plot, located towards the N corner of the burial ground and centred on NT 90505 49611, as shown on the accompanying map.

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 an upstanding form and Horndean parish church is a good example of its type. As the structure only survives as turf-covered wall footings, it is likely that Horndean was abandoned relatively soon after the Reformation and did not undergo substantial alteration as a consequence. Therefore, the remains of the structure have potential to preserve the form and dimensions of the medieval parish church. There is also potential for the preservation of sculpture and ecclesiastical fixtures and fittings within the burial ground as an account of the site from 1847 mentions a font being visible. The burial ground itself is likely to contain interments associated with one or more phases of use of the church; gravestones dating to the 1600s were recorded in 1955. In addition, buried deposits may reveal valuable information about the environment and people in the later medieval period, and could also reveal the presence of other associated remains in antiquity, not now visible.

Contextual characteristics

This church was part of a network of parish churches covering Scotland and served as a central place of worship, baptism, marriage and burial for the local community. It was a focal point for society. The medieval parish of Horndean lay within the jurisdiction of the See of St Andrews and was part of the wider organisation of religion in later medieval Scotland. The parish was amalgamated into the parish of Ladykirk in the 1500s and the church fell into disuse. Comparison of the local ecclesiastical architectural features in this area with those in other Scottish churches of a similar date may enhance our understanding of regional variation in ecclesiastical architecture in this period.

The church is located around 725m to the east of the settlement of Horndean. Also noted at the church's location is a reference to a St Leonard's Hospital. Robert Byseath, Lord of Upsetlington, granted the hospital to Kelso Abbey in around 1240. It is also mentioned about 1300 when it was still held by Kelso and had provision for a chaplain and two poor people. Nothing further is known and there are no surface remains. It is unclear whether there was any relationship between the hospital and the church.

Associative characteristics:

The existence of Horndean parish church is known from the 12th century when William de Vetteriponte, the local landowner granted the church to Kelso Abbey. The church was dedicated to the Holy Rood (the cross used for Christ's crucifixion) by David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews, in 1246 when he arranged that Kelso Abbey would supply a chaplain for Horndean in return for its parsonage and vicarage. Evidently this practice continued until the Reformation when the parish of Horndean was united with Ladykirk and Hutton to increase the annual salary of the minister. In 1574 Horndean was one of four churches listed in the charge of the new minister. Worship evidently continued at Horndean until the end of the 16th century as a number of readers and exhorters, effectively lay preachers, are recorded. The church was described as a ruin by 1725 and may have been abandoned as a place of worship in the 17th century. However anecdotal evidence suggests that annual open air services were held at Horndean in the early years of the 20th century, only ending at the onset of the First World War, when descendents of those buried in the graveyard were still in attendance.

The Holy Rood was a relic considered of especial importance. Several fragments of the one true cross are recorded at various locations in later medieval Britain. Queen Margaret of Scotland, wife of King Malcolm Canmore, is believed to have brought a fragment of the cross to Scotland in the 11th century.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular later medieval church organisation and religious practice in SE Scotland. This potential is enhanced by the relative rarity of this type of monument as unaltered later medieval churches in rural locations are not common. The importance of Horndean is supported by documentary sources dating from as early as the 12th century and the church is specifically mentioned in 1246. 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



RCAHMS records the monument as NT94NW 16. The Scottish Borders Council SMR identifies the monument as record 1190002.


Binnie, G A C 1995, The Churches and Graveyards of Berwickshire, Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Dent, J and McDonald, R 1997, Christian Heritage in the Scottish borders, Scottish Borders Council: Hawick.

Cowan, I B 1967 'The parishes of medieval Scotland', Scottish record Society 93, 83.

RCAHMS 1980, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Berwickshire District, Borders region, RCAHMS: Edinburgh, 49, No. 426.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.