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Seton Collegiate Church

A Scheduled Monument in Preston, Seton and Gosford, East Lothian

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Latitude: 55.9653 / 55°57'55"N

Longitude: -2.9335 / 2°56'0"W

OS Eastings: 341822

OS Northings: 675090

OS Grid: NT418750

Mapcode National: GBR 2L.X0XF

Mapcode Global: WH7TV.XB78

Entry Name: Seton Collegiate Church

Scheduled Date: 28 November 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13368

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: collegiate church

Location: Tranent

County: East Lothian

Electoral Ward: Preston, Seton and Gosford

Traditional County: East Lothian


The monument is the remains of Seton Collegiate Church, constructed mainly in the second half of the 15th century and the early 16th century on the site of an earlier church. It survives as a roofed building comprising an apsidal choir, sacristy, and transepts with crossing tower; the surrounding footings of the domestic accommodation for the college of priests; a collection of carved stones; and the boundary walls. The church is situated in landscaped woodland grounds, immediately to the E of Seton House. The monument was originally scheduled in 1920, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

Seton Collegiate Church is cruciform on plan and the upstanding remains survive in excellent condition. The choir is 16m long by 7m wide. It is of three bays and aisle-less, with a three-sided apse at its eastern end. It is roofed with a high pointed barrel vault, with decorative vault ribs confined to the apse. The two- and three-light choir windows have curvilinear tracery and have splayed jambs and pointed heads. A two-storey sacristy is entered from the N wall of the choir. On the central bay of the S wall of the choir, an external doorway has been built up. The current entrance to the church is through the western arch of the crossing, which is surmounted by a square central tower that terminates in a truncated broach spire. The tower is flanked by transepts to the N and S with barrel-vaulted ceilings. The walls of the church are of sandstone ashlar. A slated roof has replaced the original stone flags covering the choir, but stone slabs remain on the roof of the sacristy and transepts. Evidence of the nave is visible on the W external face of the tower. Seton church displays many outstanding architectural features and fine carved stonework. Of particular note in the choir are an elaborate stone piscina and a 15th-century monumental tomb with recumbent stone effigies of a man and woman.

The Bishop of St Andrews is recorded as consecrating a building at Seton in 1242, although there has probably been a church on this site from at least the 12th century. Investigations by the Ministry of Works revealed elements of rubble foundations which have been interpreted as the remains of an earlier chapel on this site. They also uncovered an extensive spread of wall footings to the SW of the church, which have been interpreted as the remains of domestic accommodation for the collegiate. After the Reformation, these buildings served as a mill and brew-house for Seton Palace nearby. Carved stones from Seton Palace are displayed against the E boundary wall.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan to include the remains described above and an area around them in which evidence for the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all services and signage, including the visitor services kiosk, railings, toilet block and the lean-to-shelter containing carved stones, as well as the top 200mm of all modern paths, drives and gravelled areas to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as one of the finest surviving, upstanding collegiate churches in Scotland, preserving rare evidence of the domestic accommodation for the collegiate. The monument survives in excellent condition. It displays many features characteristic of 15th-century ecclesiastical architecture and is notable for the lack of post-Reformation alterations. As such, it can make a significant contribution to our understanding of medieval ecclesiastical foundations in the Lothians. There is high potential for the survival of buried archaeological remains throughout this site, including structural and architectural remains, as well as further human burials. Study of these remains can provide important information about the development of the site from its origins in the 12th century or earlier, through the changes following its elevation to collegiate status in the later 15th century and subsequently, through to the post-Reformation period, including the domestic and religious life of the Collegiate. The loss of Seton Collegiate Church would significantly diminish our ability to understand the form, character, function and architectural decoration of medieval collegiate churches in the Lothians and their role in wider society.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records Seton Collegiate Church as NT47NW 4.


Baldwin, J 1997, Edinburgh, Lothians and the Borders, Exploring Scotland's Heritage series Edinburgh: Stationery Office, 144-5.

Cruden, S H 1958, 'Seton Collegiate Church', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 89, 417-437.

Fawcett, R 2002, Scottish medieval churches: architecture and furnishings, London: Yale University Press, 17, 42-43, 67, 75, 79, 84, 124, 175.

Hogg, S 2007, 'Seton Collegiate Chapel, watching brief, East Lothian (Tranent parish)', Discovery Excav Scot 8, 77.

Markus, S 2007, 'Seton Collegiate Chapel, Inventory, East Lothian (Tranent parish)', Discovery Excav Scot 8, 77.
Historic Environment Scotland Properties
Seton Collegiate Church
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Related Designations

Designation TypeGarden & Designed LandscapeStatusDesignated

Battle of PrestonpansBTL16
Designation TypeBattlefieldStatusDesignated

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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