Coldingham Church

Boundary Wall(s), Church, Priory

Site Name Coldingham Church

Classification Boundary Wall(s), Church, Priory

Alternative Name(s) Coldingham Priory Church; Coldingham Priory, Claustral Remains; Coldingham Benedictine Priory

Canmore ID 60143

Site Number NT96NW 11

NGR NT 90394 65949

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Coldingham
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Berwickshire
  • Former County Berwickshire

Archaeology Notes

NT96NW 11.00 90394 65949

NT96NW 11.01 NT 904 559 Coin hoard

NT96NW 11.02 NT 90500 65962 Manse

NT96NW 11.03 NT 9042 6604 Excavation

NT96NW 11.04 NT 90372 65941 Transept Arch

NT96NW 11.05 NT 90315 65975 Hearse House and Grave Digger's Store

NT96NW 11.06 NT 90358 65969 Churchyard

NT96NW 11.07 NT 90313 65968 Gate Piers and Gates

(NT 9040 6593) Ch and rems of (NAT)

Priory (NR) (Benedictine)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1976).

For bronze terret held in the vestry, see NT96SW 19.

Coldingham Priory church is said to have been originally cruicform on plan, consisting of an aisleless choir and sanctuary, a nave with aisles, N and S transepts with E chapel-aisles, and a tower 90ft high over the crossing.

The existing remains are the N and E walls of the choir and sanctuary and a few fragments of the S transept with indications of an E aisle. Nothing survives of the conventual buildings apart from a large rectangular structure, known locally as 'Edgar's Walls', which may have been the refectory (see RCAHMS 1915 plan, fig.30). In 1662 the S and W walls of the choir were reconstructed and that part of the church adapted for use as a place of worship; it was again repaired in 1854-5, when the S porch was added.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1896; RCAHMS 1915, visited 1914.

About 1098, King Edgar granted the shire of Coldingham to the (Benedictine) monks of Durham and a church, not yet monastic, was built, and dedicated about 1100. Only the church of Coldingham is mentioned in 1127, but in 1139 and again in 1140-1, charters refer to the monks serving the church of St Mary and St Cuthbert of Coldingham. The first prior of Coldingham is recorded about 1174, but the priory was obviously founded before this date. In 1215/6 the priory was plundered by King John's forces. During the Anglo-Scottish wars of the early 14th century, the monks were compelled to abandon Coldingham for a time. An abortive attempt was made to erect the priory into a collegiate church in the mid-15th century. In the 16th century, the priory suffered severely during invasions and was garrisoned both by Scottish and English forces. It was finally dissolved in 1606, and in 1648 most of the remaining buildings were destroyed by Cromwell.

I B Cowan and D E Easson 1976.

The fragmentary remains are as described. The N and E walls of the church (which is still in use) are in a considerably restored condition and not very impressive. No Norman foundations are visible on the ground, nor are any of the nave and aisles. The remaining wall of the refectory is in a crumbling condition. There is a well in the garden just S of the church porch. A number of early grave slabs were also noted.

Visited by OS (JLD) 1 November 1954.

No change.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 26 January 1966.

Recent excavations have located a cemetery and two long cists, and finds from the excavations include a cross- head, possibly of 11th or 12th century date.

H Clarke 1969; G A Elliot and T D Thomson 1970; D Noble 1971; T D Thomson 1971; D Noble 1973; T D Thomson 1973; D Noble 1976; RCAHMS 1980, visited 1979.

Photographed by the RCAHM in 1980.

RCAHMS AP catalogue.

NT 904 659 A survey recording the location of previous archaeological excavations at Coldingham Priory was undertaken ahead of a proposed programme of works to develop the immediate area into a tourist attraction for the 900th anniversary of the priory in 1998.

The extent and location of the original excavation trenches and major features were recorded. These included three walls which appear to be post-medieval in date, and a possible medieval foundation raft. Three sections were also recorded prior to the infilling of the trench.

Sponsor: Scottish Borders Council.

S Bain 1998

NT 905 661 An archaeological watching brief was undertaken in August and September 2001 on a small site close to the remains of Coldingham Priory (NMRS NT96NW 11.00), on the site of a former garage and filling station destined for redevelopment for housing. Several short stretches of walling were located which related to buildings previously occupying the site. Parts of a smithy shown on the OS 1st edition map of 1857 were recorded together with associated garden walling. A narrow and shallow ditch on a different alignment to the structural building remains was also recorded. The most significant archaeological feature located was a broad ditch 2.5-3m wide and 1-1.5m deep, aligned E-W across the centre of the site, with a presumed break in its length towards the eastern half of the site. This may relate to the priory vallum.

Report to be lodged with the NMRS.

Sponsor: Berwickshire Housing Association.

G Mudie 2001.

Scheduled as Coldingham Priory, claustral remains.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 21 May 2002.

Architecture Notes

NT96NW 11.00 90394 65949

NT96NW 11.01 NT 904 559 Coin hoard

NT96NW 11.02 NT 90500 65962 Manse

NT96NW 11.03 NT 9042 6604 Excavation

NT96NW 11.04 NT 90372 65941 Transept Arch

NT96NW 11.05 NT 90315 65975 Hearse House and Grave Digger's Store

NT96NW 11.06 NT 90358 65969 Churchyard

NT96NW 11.07 NT 90313 65968 Gate Piers and Gates



Gordon and Dey, Edinburgh - new furnishings 1854-1855

Wm. I. Gray Architect - Alterations during restoration, 1854 - Rebuilding West and South fronts clearing away surrounding structures, new roofing and refitting interior. In 1855 during this work excavation revealed earlier nunnery buildings.


A collection of designs and record drawings executed in connection with the restoration of Coldingham Priory by the architect, Wiliam J Gray of Gray and Paterson 1835-1858. Includes designs for new work in the style of the original and surveys of old work removed during restoration.

Deposited by the Berwickshire Naturalist Club, 1979. Inventory 95


National Archives of Scotland:

See RHP 6506/1-8 Plans R. Matheson and 2 interior prints said to be 1788.

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC23213- DC23321, 1854,1954 & 1923.



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