Mount Lothian Parish Church

Mount Lothian Church, north west corner, 1

Summary description

Abandoned after 1653; fragmentary remains.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

What appears to be the earliest surviving reference to the church of Morham is a note of its dedication by Bishop David de Bernham of St Andrews on 9 March 1245.(1)  In the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in 1275, the rector of ‘Morame’ was recorded as having paid two merks 5s 4d in taxation.(2)  Morham remained an independent parsonage throughout the fourteenth century but what appears to be the first record of a named rector occurs only in 1397-8 when one John of Strathavon, rector of Morham, occurs as a witness to a charter concerning the nearby church of Bothans.(3)  Its independence, however, ended in 1421 when the revenues of the church, both parsonage and vicarage, were annexed to a prebend in the new collegiate church of Bothan, with a chaplain with a ‘suitable portion’ (unspecified) being appointed to serve the cure.(4)  It is unclear, however, if the union was immediately effective or if the incumbent became the canon and prebendary in the collegiate church since in 1445 it emerges that John of Stathavon was still in possession and described as ‘rector of Morham’.(5)  At that date John gave the value of the church as £12 sterling per annum.  He was still in possession as rector in 1447 but disappears, presumably dying, shortly thereafter.(6)

Rectors of Morham, presumably prebendaries of the collegiate church, are named in the 1450s, when it was also established that the patronage of the church lay with the family of Hay of Talla.(7)  Archibald Tod, vicar of Morham and a pebendary in St Giles’ in Edinburgh, occurs in 1524, but in 1556 the church was being served by only a curate, named as Thomas Dairly.(8)  The union with the collegiate church remained effective at the Reformation, when the parsonage was held by Thomas Godrell and set for £50.(9)  There is no reference to the provision made for the curate at that date although it was noted that £16 from the parsonage was assigned for the support of the minister and reader.

Notes

1. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (Edinburgh, 1922), 525 [Pontifical Offices of St Andrews].

2. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 34.

3. Calendar of Writs Preserved at Yester House, 1166-1625, eds C Harvey and J McLeod (Scottish Record Society, 1930), no.40 [hereafter Yester Writs].

4. Yester Writs, no.45.

5. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, iv, 1433-1447, eds A I Dunlop and D MacLauchlan (Glasgow, 1983), no.1183.

6. Yester Writs, no.85.

7. Yester Writs, no.118.

8. NRS Haddington Burgh Protocol Books, James Meldrum, 1520-33, B30/1/1, fol. 80; NRS Protocol Book of Thomas Stevin, 1548-1565, B30/1/5, fol. 157.

9. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 170-171.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Confirmed to Holyrood (with chapel of St Catherine in the Hopes) in 1240. The parsonage and vicarage were with the abbey, served by a chaplain.(1)

1247 Church included in a papal confirmation of the possessions of the abbey by Innocent IV.(2)

1251 Vicarage settlement by David de Bernham, bishop of St Andrews, parsonage with abbey, and served by a chaplain.(3)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage and vicarage with Holyrood, set (along with chapel of St Catherine in the Hopes) for £25.(4)

1582 (19 Apr) Complaint made to the Presbytery of Dalkeith by the parishioners that they have no person to baptise their children (and have not had for some time) and have to travel to adjoining parishes of Lasswade and Pencaitland.(5)

[Mount Lothian parish annexed to Penicuik in 1635]

1648 (17 Aug) During a visitation by the Presbytery of Dalkeith the minister regretted that the kirk yard dykes were not built and that the east end of the kirk was without glass and that they wanted a bell. The heritors are willing to sort it out.(6) 1648 (2 Nov) in the survey of the parishers of the Presbytery of Dalkeith it was noted that Penicuik consisted of three kirks, 1) Penicuik, 2) St Katherine in the Hopes, 3) St Marys in Mount Lothian. It also notes that Penicuik was in lay patronage and the other churches belonged to Holyrood house.(7)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Thomas McCourtym 1797): ‘There are the remains of two chapels in the parish [of Penicuik], St Mary’s at a place called Monklothian at the south, and St Katherine’s at the north end of the parish’.(8)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Scott Moncrieff, 1843): ‘The vestiges, for they can scarcely be called ruins’ of both the ancient churches [Mount Lothian and St Katherine’s] may still be traced’.(9)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 152.

2. Holyrood Liber, App, i, 8.

3. Holyrood Liber, no. 75.

4. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 91.

5. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 23.

6. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1639-1652, CH2/424/3, fols. 256-257.

7. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1639-1652, CH2/424/3, fol. 261.

8. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1797), x, 420.

9. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1843), i, 39.

Bibliography

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1.

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1639-1652, CH2/424/3.

Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh.

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

Liber Cartarum Sancte Crucis, 1840, ed. C. Innes, (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

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

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

Architectural description

The church had been granted to the Augustinian abbey of Holyrood some time before 1240, since in that year it was confirmed to the abbey by Bishop David de Bernham, together with its chapel of St Catherine in the Hopes. In 1251 that same bishop gave permission for the cure to be served by a chaplain.(1)

The parish was annexed to that of Penicuik in 1635, after which it passed out of use. By the late eighteenth century it could be said that ‘there are the remains of two chapels in the parish of St Mary’s [Penicuik] at a place called Mountlothian at the south, and St Katherine’s at the north end of the parish’.(2) But by the mid-eighteenth century all that could be said was ‘the vestiges, for they can scarcely be called ruins...may still be traced’.(3)

The site of the church is on a knoll east-north-east of Mount Lothian Farm. Fragments of partly reconstructed rubble masonry remain at its west end, rising to greatest height at the north-west corner. 

In 1993, following an illicit disturbance, it was found that the floor of the chancel area had been covered in tiles of alternating black and yellow glazes.(4) In 2006, repairs, consolidation and reinstatement of ground levels were carried out following further illicit disturbance, and it was concluded that the church had been a multi-phase building.(5) The chancel appears to have measured about 7.9 by 6.3 metres.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 152-3.

2. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, vol. 10, p. 420.

3. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 1, p. 39.

4. C. A-Kelly, ‘Mount Lothian’, Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, Edinburgh, 1993, p. 62.

5. Martin Cook, AOC Archaeology Group, ‘St Mary’s Chapel, Mount Lothian’, Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, Edinburgh, 2006, p. 107.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Mount Lothian Church, north west corner, 1

  • 2. Mount Lothian Church, north west corner, 2

  • 3. Mount Lothian Church, 1

  • 4. Mount Lothian Church, 2