Rossie / Rossinclerach Parish Church

Rossie Church, exterior, from south west, 1

Summary description

The medieval church was abandoned after 1670. In about 1863 it was adapted as a chapel and mausoleum, possibly incorporating parts of the surviving medieval shell.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Laurence the Martyr and St Coman(1)

A fine Pictish sculptured cross-slab at the church site plus references to the abthain of Rossinclerach and a widely-spread network of dependent chapels that subsequently achieved independent parochial status point to Rossie as having originally been the mother-church of an extensive district in the eastern part of the Carse of Gowrie and possibly the location of an early monastery.(2)  David I originally granted parts of the abthain, including the church of Rossie and its dependent chapel of Fowlis Easter, to Matthew the archdeacon of St Andrews, confirmation being given by Bishop Robert of St Andrews.  The charters of King David and Bishop Robert do not survive but they are mentioned in the confirmation given to Matthew by King Malcolm IV in 1153 x 1159.(3)

Matthew subsequently granted his possessions in Rossie to the canons of St Andrews priory.  Again, the original charter does not survive but a confirmation of the gift by Bishop Arnold (1160-1162) records that the archdeacon had given the toun of Rossie and its church to St Andrews priory, with the bishop himself adding the right to all episcopal renders from the same church, and also the chapel of Fowlis.(4)  Bishop Arnold ratified these grants as part of a general confirmation of all of the priory’s possessions(5) and between 20 November 1160 and 13 September 1162 King Malcolm IV also confirmed Matthew’s gift to the canons.(6)  Regular confirmations of the priory’s possessions were made thereafter, starting in 1165 x 1166 with Bishop Richard of St Andrews.(7)  Between 1165 and 1169 King William included Rossie in his general charter of confirmation to the priory and in 1178 x 1184 Bishop Hugh of St Andrews issued a further general confirmation.(8)  Reinforcement of the priory’s possession was provided by a series of papal confirmations, starting with a bull of Pope Alexander III in 1163 and continuing in 1183 with Pope Lucius III, Gregory VIII in 1187, Clement III in 1188, Innocent III in 1206, and Honorius III in 1206.(9)

A royal confirmation of 1178 x 1188 records the subinfeudation of the lands of Rossie, the church and the mill, by the canons to James of Perth and reveals that all that the priory hitherto possessed was the patronage of the church with no appropriated revenues.(10)  This right of patronage was passed to James of Perth along with the landed property.  The subinfeudation and the question of the patronage was to become a source of controversy and may lie behind the papal mandate of 1226 whereby Pope Honorius III instructed that William of Greenlaw be compelled to resign the church to the canons of St Andrews in accordance with an earlier agreement between them, and the priory was then instructed to provide William of St Germain, papal chaplain, or to provide with another benefice of equal worth.(11)  Overall, the question of control of the patronage was an issue which dragged on until a final resolution by Bishop David de Bernham in 1240, by which it was adjudged that John, son and heir of Duncan of Inchyra, who was then holder of the lands of Rossie and disputing possession of the patronage with the priory, had no right to it and that he should in future pay them one merk of silver or one ‘modium’ of wine annually for the lands.(12)

The resolution of the question of patronage was part of a wider settlement concerning the church.  In November 1240 Bishop David annexed the church to the priory in proprios usus reserving his episcopal dues and with the stipulation that a suitable portion be thereafter assigned for the support of a vicar perpetual.(13)  It was as a vicarage perpetual that the church continued at the Reformation.  Three years after this settlement, on 13 August 1243, Bishop David rededicated the church, it perhaps being on this occasion that St Laurence the Martyr was added to an earlier St Coman dedication.(14)

According to Walter Bower, William of Lothian, prior of St Andrews (1340-54), ‘observing that the church of Rossie in Gowrie was in poor condition and very old … rebuilt it at great expense after pulling it down completely to the ground and moving it to another site’.(15)  It is unknown how far from the present church site the pre-mid-fourteenth-century was located.

The later medieval history of Rossie is a complete blank.  At the Reformation, the parsonage remained annexed to the priory and valued at £32 annually.  The vicarage, which was held by David Henryson, was valued at £10 per annum.(16)

Notes

1. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree in Scotia (Bannatyne Club, 1841), 348 [hereafter St Andrews Liber].

2. J Romilly Allen, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1903), pt.iii, 306-308; H Coutts, Ancient Monuments of Tayside (Dundee, 1970), 66.

3. Regesta Regum Scottorum, i, The Acts of Malcolm IV, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1960), no.120 [hereafter RRS, i].

4. St Andrews Liber, 126-7.

5. St Andrews Liber, 131.

6. RRS, i, no.194.

7. St Andrews Liber, 141-144.

8. Regesta Regum Scottorum, ii, The Acts of William I, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1971), no.29 [hereafter RRS, ii]; St Andrews Liber, 144-7.

9. Scotia Pontificia: Papal Letters to Scotland Before the Pontificate of Innocent III, ed R Somerville (Oxford, 1982), nos 50, 119, 148, 149; St Andrews Liber, 71-81.

10.RRS, ii, no.211.

11. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, i, 1198-1304, ed W H Bliss (London, 1893), 98-117.

12. St Andrews Liber, 162-3.

13. St Andrews Liber.163.

14. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (Edinburgh, 1922), 524; St Andrews Liber, 348.

15. Walter Bower, Scotichronicon, eds D E R Watt and others, iii (Aberdeen, 1995), 423.

16. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 16, 18, 77.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: The church was granted to the priory of St Andrews in c.1162, but only the patronage was involved. The church was finally granted for the use of the priory in 1240. The parsonage teinds thereafter continued so annexed, while the cure was a perpetual vicarage.(1)

According to Mackinley the church was dedicated to SS Lawrence and Conan.(2)

1153 x 1159 Malcolm IV confirmed to Matthew, archdeacon of St Andrews, the grants made by David I and Robert, bishop of St Andrews, to the archdeacon in the apdaine of Rossie.(3)

1160 x 1162 Arnold, bishop of St Andrews, confirmed the grant made by Matthew, archdeacon of St Andrews, (with his council) to the priory of the vill and church of Rossie. The bishop himself gave (dare) to the canons the episcopal renders of Rossie in perpetuity. He also conceded (concedere) the chapel of Fowlis Easter pertaining to the church of Rossie.(4)

1160 x 1162 Arnold, bishop of St Andrews, confirmed (general confirmation) the church and vill of Rossie as a gift of Matthew, archdeacon of St Andrews; also Bishop Arnold conceded that which was owed to the bishop from the church.(5)

1160 x 1162 Malcolm IV confirmed to the priory the vill of Rossie and the church of Rossie (including the royal interest in the church), as Archdeacon Matthew had given the priory. Arnold, bishop of St Andrews, attested the charter.(6)

1165 x 1166 Richard, bishop of St Andrews, confirmed (general confirmation) the church and vill of Rossie and also that which was owed the bishops of St Andrews as a gift of Matthew, archdeacon of St Andrews.(7)

1165 x 1169 William I confirmed (general confirmation) to the priory the vill and church of Rossie (including the royal interest) as a gift of Matthew, archdeacon of St Andrews.(8

1178 x 1184, Hugh, bishop of St Andrews, confirms (general confirmation) the church and vill of Rossie as a gift of Archdeacon Matthew and also the gift by Bishop Arnold of the rents which the bishop held in the same church.(9)

Papal Confirmations

The cathedral priory consistently claimed the church of Rossie in papal confirmation. 1163, Pope Alexander III confirmed vill and church of Rossie as a gift of Archdeacon Matthew; and the gift by Bishop Arnold of the episcopal rents pertaining to the same church owed to the bishop. 1183, Pope Lucius III confirmed the vill and church of Rossie as a gift of Archdeacon Matthew; from the gift of Bishop Arnold the episcopal rents in the same church owed to the bishop of St Andrews. The church of Rossie with lands and mills was confirmed by Gregory VIII in 1187, Clement III in 1188, Innocent III in 1206, and Honorius III in 1206.(10)

1178 x 1188 William I confirmed subinfeudation of the vill of Rossie, the mill, and other temporal rights along with the advowson of the church (cum donacione Ecclesie) to James, provost of Perth. The charter is attested by Hugh, bishop of St Andrews.(11)

1226 (29 Jan) Honorius III wrote to the archdeacons of Dunkeld and Dunblane and to a canon of Dunkeld ordering them to compel William de Grenlaw to resign the church of Rossie in accordance with an earlier agreement made between him and the cathedral priory (represented by Eustace and Henry, canons and proctors of the house). The cathedral priory was then ordered to institute William de St German, papal chaplain, to the benefice or provide another of equal value.(12)

1228 Alexander II confirmed (general confirmation) the vill and church of Rossie to the priory.(13)

1240 The church of Rossie was given (dare) in proprios usus to the cathedral priory by David de Bernham, bishop of St Andrews; save episcopal due and the sustenance of an honest vicar.(14)

c.1340-54 According to Bower, William of Lothian, prior of St Andrews (1340-54), ‘observing that the church of Rossie in Gowrie was in poor condition and very old, he rebuilt it at great expense after pulling it down completely to the ground and moving it to another site’.(15)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage with priory of St Andrews, valued at £32. Vicarage with David Henryson, value £10.(16)

1658 (13 June) Reference in the kirk session that ‘as the heritors of the parish do not uphold the fabric of the church’, the session are finding it necessary to ask the presbytery to deal with the ‘thereanent’.(17)

1662 (2 Aug) On that day the kirk of Rossie being measured by Patrick Jack, mason, it was reckoned in breadth and length to be 7 ‘ruindes’ wanting 4 yards. The subsequent repairs cost; £2 14 for the capstones, 18s for slates, 6s for slate pins, 5s for nails, £7 4s 2d for lime.(18)

1662 (22 June) It was noted (in the kirk session) that the day’s collection was given to the slaters who visited the church. The following year (22 Feb 1663) the session decide that a collection is required for mending the glass windows of the kirk and to buy timber to be pillars to the loft.(19)

1666 (4 Nov) Reference to collection money being given to the slater for mending the roof of the church. Under the same ref it was noted that £15 4s 6d was spent in the previous year on the repair of the church.(20)

1670 (26 Jan - 30 Oct) Various further references to the costs of mending the windows (£6), replacing the slates of the church roof (£4 5s), and pointing the church.(21)

1676 (9 Jan) Further payment of £4 5s for the slater who has mended the roof. On 26 Nov Patrick Floors was paid £2 4s for mending a part of the roof. The following 7 October 1677 payment was paid for pointing the church, £10 paid to a slater and £5 on lime and other necessities.(22)

1681 (2 Jan) Further repairs of the church at a cost of £9 10s, including 200 slates and 2 bolls of lime.(23)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Millar, 1791): ‘This parish (Inchture) and that of Rossie were united in 1670, and the church of Rossie is now a ruin’.(24)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev J A Henry, 1842): ‘On a somewhat romantic elevation at the foot of the den, and the southern terminus of the hill, are the interesting ruins of the ancient church of Rossie, overgrown with ivy and ash’.(25)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 173.

2. Mackinley, Non-Scriptural Dedications, p. 395.

3. RRS, i, no. 120. This church may have originally been an important regional matrix ecclesia in Gowrie. Its pendicles may have included Fowlis Easter, Inchture, and Kinnaird. The churches of Fowlis Easter and Inchture originated as chapels and only later became fully parochial (Kinnaird continued as a chapel of Inchture). Thus, in this case, the matrix ecclesia fragmented creating several parish churches.

4. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 126-7

5. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 130-2.

6. RRS, i, no. 194.

7. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 141-4.

8. RRS, ii, no. 28.

9. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 144-7.

10. Scotia Pontificia, nos. 50, 119, 148 & 149, Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 71-6; 76-81.

11. RRS, ii, no. 211.

12. CPL, pp. 98-117.

13. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 232-6 & 162-3.

14. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 163-4.

15. Chron. Bower, iii, 423.

16. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 16, 18 & 77.

17. NRS Inchture and Rossie Kirk Session, 1650-1682, CH2/188/1, fol. 61.

18. NRS Inchture and Rossie Kirk Session, 1650-1682, CH2/188/1, fol. 83.

19. NRS Inchture and Rossie Kirk Session, 1650-1682, CH2/188/1, folss. 91, 94 & 96.

20. NRS Inchture and Rossie Kirk Session, 1650-1682, CH2/188/1, fol. 134.

21. NRS Inchture and Rossie Kirk Session, 1650-1682, CH2/188/1, fols. 162, 165 & 173.

22. NRS Inchture and Rossie Kirk Session, 1650-1682, CH2/188/1, fols. 213 & 227.

23. NRS Inchture and Rossie Kirk Session, 1650-1682, CH2/188/1, fol. 265.

24. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), iv, 191.

25. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1842), x, 831.

Bibliography

NRS Inchture and Rossie Kirk Session, 1650-1682, CH2/188/1.

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

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.

Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree in Scotia, 1841, ed. T. Thomson (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

Mackinley, J.M, 1914, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland. Non-Scriptural Dedications, Edinburgh.

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

Regesta Regum Scottorum, Acts of Malcolm IV (1153-65), 1960, Edinburgh.

Regesta Regum Scottorum, Acts of William I (1165-1214), 1971, Edinburgh.

Scotichronicon by Walter Bower in Latin and English, 1987-99, D. E. R. Watt, Aberdeen.

Scotia pontificia papal letters to Scotland before the Pontificate of Innocent III, 1982, ed. R. Somerville, Oxford.

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

Architectural description

Rossie is thought to have been a location of worship since early Christian times on the basis of a cross slab that was found within the churchyard. The main face of the slab has a cross decorated with interlace and key-patter, flanked by beasts, while the rear also has a cross with related decoration to the head and arms, but with horsemen on the shaft, and with an angel, horsemen, beasts and symbols flanking the cross.(1)

Further indications of an early date of foundation come from the evidence that the medieval church originated as a pendicle of an uncertain foundation of ‘Rossim’.(2) In about 1162 the patronage was granted to St Andrews Cathedral Priory, though the patronage evidently later reverted to James de Perth; however, in 1240 Bishop David de Bernham granted the church to the uses of the priory, with the cure a perpetual vicarage.(3) That same bishop carried out a dedication of Rossinclerach on 13 August 1243.(4)

Amongst periodic references to post-Reformation repairs, in a report of 2 August 1662 by the mason Patrick Jack, the church was said to be 7 ‘ruindes’ (?) wanting 4 yards in width and length.(5) It is uncertain what that means, though it may have been ‘ruids’ that were intended, which is a measurement of area equivalent to 36 square ells.(6)

In its present form the building appears still to be essentially the rectangular medieval structure, albeit in heavily remodelled form, and it measures 20.4 by 6.87 metres. The walls are of red sandstone rubble, and the blank east wall with a chamfered intake at the base of the gable suggests a relatively late medieval date.

Although the rubble construction makes it difficult to be certain, it is possible that some of the buttresses represent original features, though the offsets and facings are clearly of the nineteenth century. The only opening that appears to be largely original is the doorway towards the west end of the otherwise blank north wall; it has two orders of continuous mouldings, the inner order being of slightly inset convex quadrant form, and the outer order a narrow chamfer.

In 1670 the parish was united with that of Inchture and the church at Rossie was abandoned, so that by the 1790s it could be described in the Statistical Account as a ruin.(7) The New Statistical Account referred to the ‘interesting ruins of the ancient church of Rossie, overgrown with Ivy’.(8)

In about 1863 the building was restored for the ninth Lord Kinnaird, whose seat was the nearby Rossie Priory, which had been built for his father by William Atkinson in 1807-15.(9) The restoration of the church, which may be attributable to by Charles Edward, who is known to have worked on Rossie Priory in the years around 1865,(10) and was possibly undertaken with the intention of use for Episcopal worship, but also as a burial place for the family of its restorer. As part of this operation a bellcote was added over the west gable and a porch on the south side of the nave, and a number of windows were inserted or replaced. More changes were made when it was further adapted for mortuary purposes in about 1875.(11)

Set into the chancel floor is a worn Tournai marble ledger slab with a male and a female figure within tabernacles.

Notes

1. J. Romilly Allen and Joseph Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1903, pt. 3, pp. 306-8.

2. For a brief reference to Rossim see Ian B. Cowan and David E. Easson, Medieval Religious Houses, Scotland, 2nd ed., London and new York, 1976, p.54.

3. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 173.

4. Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, Edinburgh, 1922, vol. 2, p. 524.

5. National Records of Scotland, Inchture and Rossie Kirk Session, 1650-82, CH2/188/1, fol. 83.

6. The Concise Scots Dictionary, ed. Mairi Robinson, Edinburgh, rev. ed., 1996, p. 573.

7. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, vol. 4, p. 191.

8. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 10, p. 831.

9. Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 4th ed., New Haven and London, 2008, p. 81.

10. Online Dictionary of Scottish Architects.

11. John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Perth and Kinross, New Haven and London, 2007, pp. 681-3.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Rossie Church, exterior, from south west, 1

  • 2. Rossie Church, exterior, from south west, 2

  • 3. Rossie Church, exterior, from north west

  • 4. Rossie Church, exterior, east gable, from north east

  • 5. Rossie Church, exterior, east gable, from south east

  • 6. Rossie Church, exterior, north door

  • 7. Rossie Church, exterior, south wall, to west of porch

  • 8. Rossie Church, graveyard monument

  • 9. Rossie, cross slab (Allen and Anderson)