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Douglas, St Bride's Church

Burial Ground (15th Century), Church (14th Century)

Site Name Douglas, St Bride's Church

Classification Burial Ground (15th Century), Church (14th Century)

Canmore ID 46529

Site Number NS83SW 5

NGR NS 83587 30952

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/46529

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

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council South Lanarkshire
  • Parish Douglas
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Clydesdale
  • Former County Lanarkshire

Archaeology Notes

NS83SW 5 83587 30952

(NS 8359 3095) St Bride's Ch. (NR) (Remains of).

OS 6" map, Lanarkshire, 1st ed., (1898).

The church of Douglas existed in the 12th century but the present structure is of considerably later date. Some portions of Norman capitals, piled up in a recess of the south side of the later structure, are all that remain of it. The present structure of which little but the choir remains, appears to have been built about the end of the 14th century.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1897.

St Bride's Church: The ruins of the choir adjoin the modern chapel. On plan it measures 12.5m x 6.2m. Its walls are some 2.0m in height, save for the east gable which contains a clock tower. The whole structure including the tower, is of considerable age. This tower bears the date '1612' (?) faintly inscribed in stone , and also the date 'AD 1565' on the clock face. The arched entrance is in the south wall near the west end. The Norman relics are within the church precincts.

No additional historical information was encountered.

Visited by OS (JLD) 4 August 1954.

NS 835 309 Archaeological monitoring was undertaken in June 2004 during the excavation of a deep cable pit directly in front of the N entrance to the church (NS83SW 5). This work was part of a larger trenching exercise bringing a power cable across the N graveyard into the church.

The excavations revealed thin topsoil and paving overlying a thick single layer of brown graveyard material complete with dislocated human skeletal remains, overlying natural gravel. The main deposit in the graveyard is seen to bank against the foundations of the church and may have been an imported deposit to deepen the soil levels for inhumations, presumably post-14th century in date.

The trench exposed the substantial nature of the 19th-century reconstruction as well as revealing the absence of intact burials near the entrance of the church.

A further watching brief was undertaken in September 2004 during the installation of new services across the graveyard. Nothing of archaeological interest was revealed.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: HS.

D Stewart 2004

Architecture Notes

NMRS REFERENCE

Plans

National Buildings Record: Drawer 8. 2 sheets (ink) elevations and plans.

Measured and drawn by AR Mackenzie 1947.

Activities

Publication Account (1985)

Although a church at Douglas is on record in the 12th century, the present building is pobably ofIate 14th century date. It is in a much ruined condition with only the choir now roofed, and until the mid-19th century this too lay open to the elements but was covered during extensive restoration work carried out on behalf of Lord Home. The nave is missing but the shell of the south aisle survives, and from its east end rises the attractive octagonal bell-tower which was inserted in the 16th century.

The principal attraction of the church, however, lies in the interior, where there is an important series of medieval grave-effigies and burial-monuments, most of which are associated with the Douglas family who have been major local landowners from the medieval period to the present day. The oldest datable monument lies in the north wall, next to the door, and is reputed to be that of Good Sir James Douglas who died in Spain while on his way to the Holy Land with the heart of King Robert in 1331. The effigy, which was probably completed soon after his death, shows a knight drawing a sword, his head resting on a pillow and his feet on an animal; the canopy is of much later date, possibly 15th century)'. To the east of Good Sir James lies the monument of Archibald, 5th Earl of Douglas, who died in 1438. He is depicted wearing robes of state with a ducal coronet on his head, and his feet lie on a lion couchant. The surrounding monument (of mid-15th century date) is more elaborate than that of Sir James, with a lower frieze bealing a number of calVed figures which probably represent members of his family, and, above the ogee arch, a parapet pierced with quatrefoils. A third monument lies on the opposite wall of the church; it contains the effigies ofJames, 7th Earl of Douglas and his wife Beatrice de Sinclair. The Earl died in 1443 and, from the insCliption on the tomb, it is possible to establish that the monument was erected some time between 1448 and 1451. It is somewhat simpler than the two others described so far but this is probably a reflection of its later date. The Earl is shown in armour, his wife wears a flowing robe, and both have their hands clasped in prayer. Once again the lower frieze is decorated with a selies of can/ed figures representing their six sons and four daughters. The inscriptions on the tombs of the two Earls style them both 'Duke of Touraine', a title granted to the 4th Earl in 1423 by Charles VII of France in recognition of his valiant efforts in the royal service. The remaining medieval monument is situated at the south-west end of the choir; it is of early date and consists of a rather worn effigy of a woman vvith her feet resting on a bunch of foliage. In the centre of the church lies the Victorian marble tomb of the 7th Countess of Home, and at the west end there is a collection of architectural fragments including a number of Romanesque pieces which are the only traces of the earlier church.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Clyde Estuary and Central Region’, (1985).

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