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St Kentigern's Church, Lanark

A Scheduled Monument in Clydesdale North, South Lanarkshire

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Latitude: 55.67 / 55°40'11"N

Longitude: -3.7699 / 3°46'11"W

OS Eastings: 288780

OS Northings: 643252

OS Grid: NS887432

Mapcode National: GBR 223W.M9

Mapcode Global: WH5SK.2R35

Entry Name: St Kentigern's Church, Lanark

Scheduled Date: 28 April 1920

Last Amended: 7 August 2017

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1144

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Lanark

County: South Lanarkshire

Electoral Ward: Clydesdale North

Traditional County: Lanarkshire


The monument is the remains of St Kentigern's Church, constructed in the 13th century. The church is visible as the standing remains of an aisle, formed of an arcade of six arches, south wall, east and west gables. A second aisle formerly extended to the north and survives as buried remains. The monument is located within St Kentigern's burial ground, at about 220m above sea level.

The standing remains of the church, measuring 24.4m by 7.3m, survive to wall height. The south wall is built of sandstone rubble with small lancet windows interlinked by a string course which arches around the window heads as a hood-moulding. The principal focus of this elevation is a doorway of three orders, the two outer orders with nook shafts, water-holding bases and foliate capitals. Near the east end a rectangular door inserted in the late 17th century gives access to the mausoleum of the Lockharts of Cleghorn. The east gable contains the chancel arch measuring about 2.5m wide and an infilled lancet window. The arch originally opened onto a chancel, the standing remains of which have since been removed. The west gable was partially rebuilt in 1872-3 at which date a doorway was inserted. Above the doorway are three medieval graveslabs relocated here when the wall was reconstructed. The six bay arcade was reconstructed in 1954 following a collapse. The arcade consists of six broad pointed arches carried on alternating cylindrical and octagonal piers with moulded capitals. The church extends around 8m north of the standing remains.

The scheduled area is irregular in plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling extends up to but does not include the Lockhart aisle to the east, the Smellie and Cleghorn aisles to the south, and specifically excludes all memorial stones, enclosure walls and active burial lairs.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument is the remains of St Kentigern's Church, Lanark, a medieval burgh church constructed in the 13th century. It is oriented east-west as is normal with in a medieval church but the extent of the surviving remains makes its plan difficult to interpret. Traditionally, it is thought to have consisted of two aisles with no central space, and potentially with a chancel attached to each aisle (Davidson 1912). However, the width the south aisle together with the proportions of the chancel arch at the east end and the external treatment of the south elevation, indicate that the south aisle could have been the central space of the church with an attached chancel and an aisle to the north (Fawcett 2011, 160-161). Such a plan would be less unusual than one with two chancels and was used at the church of Cambuskenneth Abbey (dating from around 1140 to the late 13th century).

The south aisle/nave survives as standing remains, the north aisle, chancel and belfry as buried features. A belfry was previously recorded as standing outside the west wall. The standing remains largely date to the 13th century, though records indicate there was a church at St Kentigern's from at least the 12th century. Therefore it is likely that the existing building occupies the site of an earlier church. Although the church has been partially demolished, the surviving elements retain considerable architectural and structural detail, including moulded and decorated stonework. The arcade has been described as the most impressive fragment of a thirteenth-century parochial nave arcade in Scotland (Fawcett 2011, 160).

The church continued in use as the parish church after the reformation, but appears to have become ruinous by the middle of the 17th century and abandoned by the late 17th century. A watch house was erected inside the south walls of the church in the early 19th century and demolished around 50 years later. The monument therefore had a long period of use and alteration and offers high potential to study changes in belief and religious practice over an extended time period.

There is no record of any excavation at this site. Therefore there is good potential for the survival of archaeological deposits spanning several centuries, including structural remains, human burials, artefacts and environmental remains such as charcoal or pollen, within, beneath and around the remains of the church. The buried archaeological deposits have the potential add to our understanding of ecclesiastical structure, land-use and environment during the medieval and post-reformation periods and to clarify the layout and chronology of the church.

Contextual Characteristics

St Kentigern's 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. The example at St Kentigern's is of particular significance because of its surviving architectural features and long history as an ecclesiastical site.  Additionally as the parish church of Lanark, it served an important medieval burgh. Lanark was the site of a major royal castle and was granted burgh status in the 12th century. Its importance was such that, in the 14th century, it was included in the Court of the Four Burghs following the loss of Berwick and Roxburgh to the English. St Kentigern's, therefore, played an important role in the life of this significant medieval burgh.

The church has the potential to broaden our understanding of the nature and chronology of medieval ecclesiastical foundations. Comparison of the local ecclesiastical architectural features in this area with those on other Scottish churches has the potential to enhance our understanding of regional variation in ecclesiastical architecture in the medieval and post-reformation periods.

Associative Characteristics

The church of St Kentigern's along with all the lands belonging to it was granted by David I to the Monastery of Dryburgh between 1150 and 1153. The grant was confirmed by Bishop Herbert of Glasgow, Malcolm the Maiden and by William the Lyon. The right of the monastery of Dryburgh to the church in Lanark was confirmed by various bishops, popes and kings from 1174 to 1258. In May 1228 Pope Gregory VIII took the church and other possessions of Dryburgh Abbey under his special protection. During the reign of William the Lion, Jordanus Brac granted the church of St Mary of Dryburgh and St Kentigern of Lanark certain lands in the parish as a charitable gift for the soul of King William. This gift was confirmed by his son John Brac. St Kentigern's has strong associations with William Wallace as traditionally it is the church where he met and married Marion Braidfute.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding of medieval and post-reformation ecclesiastical foundations, architecture and religious practices. It is an example of a multi-period ecclesiastical site with good potential for the preservation of buried features and deposits, including architectural remains and burials. The standing remains contain fine architectural detailing typical of Scottish 13th century ecclesiastical architecture. The scale and quality of the architecture reflect the significance of Lanark as a royal burgh. The monument can help us understand much about ecclesiastical architecture and the role of the church in medieval and post-reformation society. It has the potential to make a significant contribution to our knowledge of changing belief and religious practice and the development of places of worship over an extended time period. The loss or damage of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the origins and development of places of worship in Scotland and the role of the church in wider medieval and post-reformation life.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 46576 (accessed on 27/02/2017).

Close, R., Gifford, J. and Walker, F.A. (2016) The buildings of Scotland: Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire, London, p367-369.

Davidson, J M. (1912) St Kentigern's Church, Lanark', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 46, 1911-12.

Fawcett, R. (2011) The Architecture of the Scottish Medieval Church 1100-1560. London.

Irving and Murray, G V and A. (1864) The upper ward of Lanarkshire described and delineated, 3v. Glasgow. Vol.2, 279-80.

MacGibbon and Ross, D and T. (1896-7) The ecclesiastical architecture of Scotland from the earliest Christian times to the seventeenth century', 3v. Edinburgh. Vol.2, 266.

NSA. (1834-1845) The new statistical account of Scotland by the ministers of the respective parishes under the superintendence of a committee of the society for the benefit of the sons and daughters of the clergy, 15v. Edinburgh. Vol.6 (Lanark), 14-15.

Simpson and Stevenson, A T and S. (1981) Historic Lanark: the archaeological implications of development, Scottish burgh survey series. Glasgow, p5.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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