Carnbee / Kellin / Kellie(?) Parish Church

Carnbee Church, exterior, from south

Summary description

A building of 1793-4, possibly incorporating medieval fabric.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

It is not known when the first grant of the church of Carnbee or Kellin was made to the monks of Dunfermline, but it was confirmed in their possession by King Malcolm IV between 1157 and 1160.(1)  Bishop Richard of St Andrews (1163-1178) confirmed their possession of the church in a general confirmation of all of the properties of Dunfermline.(2)  The church was confirmed to the monks in proprios usus by Bishop Hugh on account of the great burden of hospitality that was incurred by the abbey.(3

It was noted in the Pontifical Offices of St Andrews that Bishop David de Bernham dedicated the church on 19 June 1243.(4)  A vicarage settlement followed at some uncertain date before the mid-1270s, when the church is recorded simply as a vicarage in Bagimond’s Roll (assessed at 20s),(5) and the cure was a vicarage perpetual in the early fifteenth century.(6)  At the Reformation, the parsonage remained annexed to the abbey and was valued at £266 13s 4d, while the perpetual vicarage was valued at £42.(7)

Notes

1. Regesta Regum Scottorum, i, The Acts of Malcolm IV, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1960), no.157.

2. Registrum de Dunfermelyn (Bannatyne Club, 1842), no.94 [hereafter Dunfermline Registrum].

3. Dunfermline Registrum, no.99.

4. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (London, 1922), 523 [Pontifical Offices of St Andrews].

5. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 37.

6. Calendar of Papal Letters of Pope Benedict XIII of Avignon 1394-1419, ed F McGurk (Scottish History Society, 1976), 116.

7. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 39, 69.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Known until 13th century as Kellin; confirmed to Dunfermline by Malcolm IV (1157x60). Parsonage held by abbey until the Reformation.(1)

No dedication mentioned in Place Names of Fife vol. 3, or in Mackinlay.(2)

1403 Mandate to release Robert de Preston, described as vicar of Carnbee, from a certain oath… Robert had been in litigation with John Days over the church following the death of previous vicar John de Crail.(3)

1428-30 John Days is perpetual vicar, petitions for absolution after celebrating a clandestine marriage and being accused of playing at dice and publicly maintaining a concubine.(4)

1430 Days is dead, succeeded by Walter Blare (MA from university of Paris) who resigns in favour of Alexander de Ogilvy.

1435-64 John Swan is vicar having obtained the church through exchanged with Ogilvy.(5)

1464 On death of Swan the bishop of St Andrews provided John Dryburgh (£9).(6)

1467 (15 Apr) Notarial instrument narrating that Mr John Dryburgh, vicar of the parish church of Carnbee, made resignation in the hands of John Arthur, one of the bailies of St Andrews, of an annual rent of 28s due to the said Mr John from a tenement belonging to David Geddie (Geddy), whereupon the said bailie gave sasine of the said annual rents to a certain image of the Blessed Bartholomew the Apostle in name of his altar within the parish church of St Andrews and to the chaplain serving thereat, by placing a penny upon the foot of the said image.(7)

1478 (29 Oct) Charter by John Dryburgh bachelor in decreets, perpetual vicar of the parish church of Carnbee, founding two chaplainries at the altar of St Bartholomew in the parish church of St Andrews.(8)

1502 Reference to James Wilson, vicar of Carnbee and dean of Fife, 1502-04) as chaplain of the altar situated in the parish church section of Dunfermline.(9)

1548-51 16 People (6 women, 10 men) from the parish registered their testaments at the St Andrews Commissary court. 13 specified burial in the parish church of Carnbee and several paid a fee of 4s. Alexander Bride, the curate of Carnbee witnessed a number of the testaments.(10) 3 specified burial in the cemetery of the parish church and 1 did not specify a burial location.(11)

1560 (20 Dec) David Weymis represented the church at the first meeting of the General Assembly in Edinburgh.(12)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage with Dunfermline, value £266 13s 4d. Vicarage of Carnbee valued at £42.(13)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicarage £14.(14)

1696 (5 Aug) The presbytery being informed that the church and manse of Carnbee are ruinous and need reparation, appointed a visit. The visitation on 19 Aug found repair of the kirk necessary (also the manse). Thomas Oliphant, wright, William Webster, wright, Thomas Brown, slater and Andrew Haggard, mason reported that 406 5s Scots were required for repairing the ‘present ruins’ of the said church, manse and ‘other things thereto belonging’.(15)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Alexander Broadie, 1791):

 ‘The church of Carnbee is a very old building of gothic construction with pillars. It has undergone many expensive repairs with in these 40 years, and from the faulty state of some parts of it, the heritors it is probably will find more for their interests to build a new one than to keep in good repair the old fabric’.(16)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Anstruther Taylor, 1837): ‘The church… was built in 1793’.(17) [no reference to any remains from the old building]

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): Some late additions. Increasing timber imports from Scandinavia in 18th century led to ‘gawky’ new churches like Inverarity and Airlie and Carnbee. Stone of the old belfry was used in making a new one (1793).(18)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 28.

2. Taylor & Markus, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume Three, pp. 133-136.

3. CPL, Ben, 116.

4. CSSR, ii, 192, CSSR, iii, 12.

5. CSSR, iii, 71-2, CPL, viii, 155, CSSR, iv, no. 181, CPL, viii, 549-50.

6. CSSR, v, no. 989.

7. StAUL, Burgh Charters and Miscellaneous Writs, B65/23/46c.

8. StAUL, Burgh Charters and Miscellaneous Writs, B65/23/81c.

9. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, no. 125.

10. NRS St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1, fols. 2, 2-3, 13, 106-7, 240-1, 260, 303, 304, 322, 334 & 346.

11. NRS St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1, fols. 150, 299 & 267.

12. Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, i, p.4

13. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 39 & 69.

14. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 13.

15. NRS Presbytery of St Andrews, Minutes, 1693-1698, CH2/1132/20, fols. 124 & 137.

16. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), xiii, 29.

17. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1837), ix, 918.

18. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 80, 169, 196 & 256.

Bibliography

National Records of Scotland, St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1.

St Andrews University Library, Burgh Charters and Miscellaneous Writs, B65/23/46c.

St Andrews University Library, Burgh Charters and Miscellaneous Writs, B65/23/81c.

Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1839-45, ed. T. Thomson (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

Burgh Records of Dunfermline, 1488-1584, 1917, ed. E. Beveridge, Edinburgh.

Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, 1893-, ed. W.H. Bliss, London.

Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1976, ed. F. McGurk, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1423-28, 1956, ed. A.I. Dunlop, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1428-32, 1970, ed. A.I. Dunlop; and I.B. Cowan, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1433-47, 1983, ed. A.I. Dunlop and D MacLauchlan, Glasgow.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1447-71, 1997, ed. J. Kirk, R.J. Tanner and A.I. Dunlop, Edinburgh. Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh.

Donaldson, G., 1949, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh.

Hay, G., 1957, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, 1560-1843, Oxford.

Kirk, J., 1995, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, (British Academy) Oxford.

New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, Edinburgh and London.

Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, ed. J. Sinclair, Edinburgh.

Taylor, S and Markus, G., 2009, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume Three. St Andrews and the East Neuk, Donington.

Architectural description

The discovery of the fragment of an early medieval cross at Carnbee Farm has raised the possibility that there is a longer history of Christian worship here than had hitherto been suspected.(1) Known as Kellin until the thirteenth century, the church of Carnbee was confirmed to the Benedictine abbey of Dunfermline by Malcolm III (1153-65) and Bishop Richard (1163-78).(2)

The medieval building appears to have been a complex structure. In the 1790s it was said to be ‘a very old building of Gothic construction, with pillars &c’,(3) which presumably indicates that it had at least one longitudinal aisle. The same account said that, although it had undergone ‘many expensive repairs within these 40 years,...from the faulty state of some parts of it, the heritors it is probable will find it more to their interest to build a new one, than to keep in good repair the old fabric’.

Rebuilding took place in 1793-4, to the designs of the wright Andrew Horsburgh, and with David Ness as mason.(4) The result is a rubble built oriented rectangle of 20.3 by 10.9 metres, with four round arched windows containing timber Y-tracery along the south face, and a single window in the west wall. Rectangular doors are positioned at each end of the south face. There is a balustered birdcage bellcote capped by a pyramidal spire on the west gable, and a small session house at the southern end of the west wall.

The proportions of the late eighteenth century building, together with the description of what it replaced, make clear that the later church does not replicate the plan of the former. There is, however, some evidence that parts of the fabric of the earlier church were retained.

Close inspection of what appears to be a horizontal building break at mid-height along the north wall suggests that wall has been doubled in height at some stage. Beyond that, the lower part of the wall embodies extensive areas of squared masonry that appear to be medieval, and that might date from as early as the thirteenth century. It might be added that the lower courses of the south wall also embody squared masonry, with very different tooling from that of the rest of that wall.

On the basis of the masonry evidence, it may be suspected that the north wall has embodied a considerable length of the north wall of its medieval predecessor. But the use of similar masonry in the lower part of the south wall is more difficult to understand. It may be simply that the stones have been re-used in that wall. However, taking account of the description of the medieval church as having had ‘pillars’, is it a possibility that the south wall of the present church is on the line of the outer wall of a south aisle and that the lower courses of that wall were retained?

Notes

1. Simon Taylor, The Place Names of Fife, Donington, vol. 3, 2009, p. 132.

2. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 28.

3. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 13, pp. 29-30.

4. John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Fife, London, 1988, p. 120.

Map

Images

Click on any thumbnail to open the image gallery and slideshow.

  • 1. Carnbee Church, exterior, from south

  • 2. Carnbee Church, exterior, from south east

  • 3. Carnbee Church, exterior, from south west

  • 4. Carnbee Church, exterior, west gable bellcote

  • 5. Carnbee Church, exterior, north wall from north east

  • 6. Carnbee Church, exterior, north wall from north east, detail

  • 7. Carnbee churchyard, gravestone, 1

  • 8. Carnbee churchyard, gravestone, 2