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Clachan Of Campsie, St Machan's Church

Burial Ground (Medieval) - (Post Medieval), Church (Medieval) - (Post Medieval), Churchyard (Medieval) - (Post Medieval), Cross Incised Stone (Early Medieval)

Site Name Clachan Of Campsie, St Machan's Church

Classification Burial Ground (Medieval) - (Post Medieval), Church (Medieval) - (Post Medieval), Churchyard (Medieval) - (Post Medieval), Cross Incised Stone (Early Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Old Church Of Campsie

Canmore ID 45185

Site Number NS67NW 2

NGR NS 61023 79643

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council East Dunbartonshire
  • Parish Campsie
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Strathkelvin
  • Former County Stirlingshire

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project

Clachan of Campsie (St Machan), Dunbartonshire, cross-incised stone


Stone type: sandstone

Place of discovery: NS 6102 7964

Present location: in the consolidated west gable of St Machan’s Church.

Evidence for discovery: found during survey work in 2016 on the ruined church, built into the early modern wall core of the interior wall of the west gable, about 3.5m above ground level.

Present condition:


One broad face of this oblong stone is incised with a simple equal-armed cross.

Date range: early medieval.

Primary references: DES 2016, 56-7.

Desk-based information compiled by A Ritchie 2019.

Archaeology Notes

NS67NW 2.00 61021 79641

NS67NW 2.01 61055 79624 Lennox Family Vault and Waiting Room

(NS 6102 7963) St Machan's Church (NR) (Remains of)

OS 6" map, (1958)

The old parish church stands in its graveyard at the Clachan of Campsie. It, or its predecessor, was dedicated to St Machan, a disciple of St Cadoc, who was buried at Campsie (Mackinlay 1910). A church of Campsie was mentioned among the prebendal churches of Glasgow in a bull of 1216 (OPS 1851). It was abandoned in 1828, when the new parish church was built (at NS 6282 7800), and is now reduced to a fragment consisting only of the W gable, part of the N wall, and the footings of part of the S wall. Its original length is uncertain, but may have been about 77'; its breadth is 26'8" over walls 3'10" thick. The W gable is built in a style suggestive of the 17th century, but it is on record that the gable was taken down and rebuilt at some unstated time (Cameron 1892) and this seems to be corroborated by the break appearing in the masonry where the N wall joins the gable. The N wall is reduced to a greatest height of about 6'10" and is 29'5" in length; its end is original and has been plastered, and probably marks one side of the opening of a central N aisle. The S wall returns only 4'5" from the W end, though its footings continue a further 23' until interrupted by a burial enclosure.

On the E side of the graveyard is the Lennox family vault, a harled, two storeyed structure 16'6" by 16'2", now thickly covered by ivy. The keystone above the entrance is dated 1715. The upper storey is said to have been added early in the 19th century.

Orig Paroch Scot 1851; J M Mackinlay 1910; J Cameron 1892; RCAHMS 1963, visited 1953.

St Machan's Church and the Lennox mausoleum are as described by the RCAHMS.

Visited by OS (J L D) 25 March 1957 and (W D J) 2 May 1966.


Field Visit (February 1982)

Campsie, Old Parish Church and Burial-ground NS 610 796 NS67NW 2

All that remains of this church, abandoned in 1828, is the W gable, part of the N wall and the footings of part of the S wall. It is on record in the 12th century but the visible remains may be of 17th-century and later date. RCAHMS 1982, visited February 1982

(Stat. Acct., xv, 1795, 367-8; OPS 1851-5, i, 44-5, 503; Cameron 1892, 61-73; RCAHMS 1963, pp. 161-2, No. 157; Cowan 1967, 26)

Standing Building Recording (27 July 2016 - 31 July 2016)

NS 61021 79641 A standing building survey and gravestone recording exercise undertaken, 27–31 July 2016, at St Machan’s Church formed the field school element of the Certificate in Field Archaeology course. Students completed a measured drawing of the severely truncated remains of the church, created a ground plan of the church ruins and the shape of the churchyard using tape offsets, and recorded grave memorials in the churchyard using the proforma Mytum system.

A desk-based assessment of the site established the medieval background of the church, first documented in the 12th century, and the traditional burial place of St Machan. An octagonal medieval font, which once resided on site, is now kept in St Machan’s Church, Lennoxtown.

The church was made redundant in 1828 but the graveyard remained in use until the 20th century.

As this was a training exercise, only a fraction of the total number of memorials was recorded. This established the rapidly deteriorating nature of the gravestones since their last recording. Collapsing sections of the churchyard wall were noted as an imminent threat to the survival of several

memorials. The pear-shaped churchyard wall may retain the partial footprint of an earlier curvilinear enclosure. The site of the supposed St Machan’s Well (NS67NW 17) was not located with confidence, as the area N of the churchyard was severely modified by 19th-century bleachworks, but a small spring currently marked with floral tributes and initials carved into tree trunks indicate continued use of the site.

The survey of the church fabric determined that the remnants of the N gable are in a precarious state, exacerbated by plant growth causing cracking and spreading of the masonry towards the E end. The W gable is in very good condition and was drawn up to the level of the doorway lintel. Breaks in the coursing and differences of masonry and pointing techniques were recorded which suggest a provisional phasing of the

building with the N wall being earliest, and the W gable added on possibly in the 17th century, with further phases of building above sill level. At a later stage, the surviving foundations of the S wall were consolidated with a hard capping, and the stump of the exposed wall core in the W gable was also consolidated with recycled masonry and cement pointing. There were no diagnostic traces of an in situ medieval predecessor, although it is clear that masonry from previous structures was incorporated into the early modern fabric. The clearest example of this is what appears to be an early cross-incised stone built into the consolidation of the wall core as seen in the E-facing (interior) elevation drawing of the W gable (shown). This oblong stone bears a simple incised equal-armed cross. It is difficult to date this as the surface of the stone has clearly been cut back with a wide chisel, but the incised cross appears to predate these modifications. Early Christian cross-marked stones are rare in this area; the nearest parallels are from St Kessog’s, Luss.

There are no current plans to continue this work, but using existing local heritage groups to mobilise an effort to fully record the conditions of the gravestones was recommended. The N gable of the church is also in need

of stabilisation. This report was prepared by the contributor, assistant

supervisor Jamie Barnes and the following students: Irene Dayer, Hilary Fawcett, Lynda Frazer, Eric Gardner, Andrew Gemmell, Alan Gifford, Carol Hewitt, Catherine Hooper, Jacqueline Macmillan, Chris Morrison, Karen Norton, Hannah Ridley, Marion Sandilands, Edward Smith, Ailsa Smith, and William Yates.

Archive: East Dunbartonshire Council HER (intended)

Adrián Maldonado – Centre for Open Studies, University of Glasgow

(Source: DES, Volume 17)


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