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Dairsie, Old Church

Church (16th Century)

Site Name Dairsie, Old Church

Classification Church (16th Century)

Alternative Name(s) St Mary's Old Parish Church

Canmore ID 32904

Site Number NO41NW 11

NGR NO 41408 16098

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/32904

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Dairsie
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NO41NW 11 41407 16098

(NO 4140 1609) Church (NAT)

OS 6" map (1920)

The church of Dairsie was built by Archbishop Spottiswood in 1621, and bears an armorial inscription in confirmation. It is a simple oblong building of ashlar masonry. It has been modernised internally, and the roof has been renewed.

RCAHMS 1933

The earliest reference to the church is in 1183. It was probably rebuilt in 1300, when it was granted to the Convent of St Andrews.

A H Millar 1895

Dairsie Church is well-preserved, and in use for public worship.

Visited by OS (JLD) 25 May 1964

The church is as described above.

Visited by OS (RDL) 25 May 1964

No longer in ecclesiastical use.

SDD List, 1 March 1984.

Following on from work carried out previously (DES 1999, 45), surveys were made of several churchyards in Fife.

NO 5410 1094 101 memorials were recorded. The survey concentrated on those stones around the church and not the later extensions.

Reports have been lodged with Fife Council Archaeology Unit and the NMRS.

Sponsors: Fife Council Archaeology Unit, Fife Family History Society, RCAHMS

S Farrell 2000

NO 414 160 As a condition of scheduled ancient monument consent, a narrow trench was excavated between the boundary wall of Dairsie (Old) parish Church, through the cemetery, to the NW corner of the church in advance of the installation of a new electric supply.

The trench excavated followed the route of an earlier electric cable trench. Consequently, the archaeology of the trench had largely been compromised by earlier works.

However, the excavations did reveal that undisturbed cemetery deposits including an abundance of human bones do exist at depths of 0.7m and greater below the ground surface.

No structural features or evidence of earlier church buildings was encountered.

Sponsor: Church of Scotland General Trustees.

R.C. Campbell-Brown, D.A. Spiers, 2006.

Architecture Notes

NO41NW 11 41407 16098

INFORMATION TAKEN FROM THE ARCHITECTURE CATALOGUE:

Errected 1621 by Archbishop Spottiswoode.

Unusual building in post-reformation Gothic.

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC23379, 1971.

Activities

Publication Account (1987)

The church shares the brow of a hill with Dairsie Castle and overlooks Dairsie Bridge which crosses the River Eden.

The building is a peculiar hybrid of Gothic and Renaissance features. The overall form is Gothic. The simple oblong plan is divided by buttresses into bays, each containing a pointed arch window decorated with 'plate' tracery. The window-sills extend into a string course which breaks upwards at doorways. The wall and buttresses in the south-west corner support an octagonal turret surmounted by a stone spire. The Renaissance door piece, dated 1621, occupies the west end of the building. Above it a panel contains the arms and initials of Archbishop Spottiswood who built the church. Below the shield are the initials 'IS' and the text 'IEHOV AH. DILEXl. DE/COREM.DOMVS TV AE'. This is executed in metal and translates as: Jehovah, I have loved the beauty of thy house'. The existing slate roof dates from the 18th century and replaced the original flat lead roof which was contained within a small parapet It is uncertain whether the parapet supported fmials over the buttresses but the composition could imply this. Rain-water from the flat roof was carrried through the parapet to outlets in the form of grotesque masks. The church is now in private use.

Dairsie Castle stands about 45m south-south-west of the church. The castle is now a ruined shell of a threestorey oblong block with two circular towers on diagonally opposite corners. The south-west tower was converted to a dovecote after the castle was ruined.

The fine medieval bridge below the church carries the initials and arms of James Beaton, Archbishop ofSt Andrews 1522-39, as on Guard Bridge (no. 15). The bridge is 29.5m long and has three arches, each with four stout chamfered cut-waters, one of which is carried up as a refuge. The parapets and approach at either end have been renewed but otherwise the bridge appears to be in its original condition.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Fife and Tayside’, (1987).

Excavation (28 April 2006 - 2 May 2006)

NO 414 160 As a condition of scheduled ancient monument consent, a narrow trench was excavated from 28 April - 2 May 2006 between the boundary wall of Dairsie (Old) parish Church, through the cemetery, to the NW corner of the church in advance of the installation of a new electric supply. The trench followed the route of an earlier electric cable trench. Consequently, the archaeology of the trench had largely been compromised

by earlier works. However, the excavations did reveal that undisturbed cemetery deposits including an abundance of human bone exist at depths of 0.7m and more below the ground surface.

No structural features or evidence of earlier church buildings were encountered.

Report deposited with Fife SMR, Historic Scotland and with RCAHMS.

Funder: Church of Scotland General Trustees.

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