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Dalmeny, Main Street, Dalmeny Parish Church

Church (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Dalmeny, Main Street, Dalmeny Parish Church

Classification Church (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Dalmeny Kirk; St Cuthbert's Church

Canmore ID 50567

Site Number NT17NW 29

NGR NT 14448 77503

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2017.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Dalmeny
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County West Lothian

Archaeology Notes

NT17NW 29.00 14448 77503

(NT 1444 7750) Church (NAT) (11th Century Supposed)

OS 6" map (1856)

NT17NW 29.01 1444 7750 Cist

NT17NW 29.02 14459 77480 Churchyard

Dalmeny parish church, dedicated to St Cuthbert, is the most complete Romanesque church in Scotland; it is still in ecclesiastical use. Built in the 12th century, it originally consisted on a W tower, now demolished, an aisleless nave, chancel and apse. An aisle was added in 1671. There is a fine Norman doorway projecting on the S. The church was restored in 1937, a new W tower being added at that date.

In the church was an altar dedicated to St Bridget; another was dedicated to St Adamnan and St Columba.

RCAHMS 1929, visited 1927; SDD List 1964; A Reid 1915; C A R Radford 1965; H Scott 1915; H Scott 1950.

Dalmeny Kirk (NAT)

OS 6" map (1968)

This church, still in use, is generally as described.

Visited by OS (BS) 15 August 1974

Architecture Notes


Print room:

Inglis Photograph Collection

Exterior: 2 general views (3 prints)

the Rosebery Aisle

2 details of doorway (3 prints)

Interior: 2 views towards East (4 prints)

view towards West showing building work ? tower (between 1912 - 1931)

W Schomberg Scott Collection:

View of the new font and detail of carving on the chancel arch (4 copies of this, 1 of them in separate bound folder)

Scc. no. 1997/39

Edinburgh Architectural Association - Sketch Book - 1880-1802 - 6 plates - unlocated at time of upgrade.

Thomas Brown colour sketches, Volume 1, Nos 6 and 59 (Adv. MSS. 34.8) - 2 sketches of church and porch - unlocated at time of upgrade.


Moxon and Carfrae /CBooks. No. 300. 1816 - details of painting work - unlocated at time of upgrade.

(Undated) information in NMRS.


Publication Account (1985)

Situated on rising ground and dedicated to St Cuthbert, the church may have been commissioned by one of the wealthy lords of Dalmeny, either Gospatrick (died 1147) or his successor of the same name (died 1166). Quite simply it is the most complete Norman church in Scotland and the numerous masons' marks on the greyish-white sandstone inside link it with Dunfermline Abbey and Leuchars Church in Fife.

Like Leuchars (and the impressive ruins at Tyninghame, no. 17) it is well-finished and richly decorated; like those in Fife it is a three-cell structure of nave, chancel and sanctuary apse with a roofline (forgiving the ugly, squat tower of1937) stepped from west to east The only extension, the Rosebery Aisle, was built in 1671.

The south entrance is a superb combination of doorway and intersecting arcade above, surmounted by corbels. Its closest Scottish parallel at Dunfermline betrays influence from Durham, and a tympanum presumably once filled the half-circle below the twoorder arch. Far from being decorated with simple chevrons, however, the arch is festooned with carvings. The inner arch appears to include zodiacal signs, fabulous Bestiary figures, and an Agnus Dei; the outer arch projects eight grotesque heads. And either side is a sculptured figure-that to the east a male, with a garment reaching to mid-leg, a sword, spear and triangular sword.

Inside, chancel and apse are equally splendid, and roofed with rib vaults-similar, once again, to examples at Dunfermline. The supporting corbels are carved as heads, grotesque or human according to taste; and on the south side of the chancel, a muzzled bear. The nave has only one window in the north wall to three in the south wall-a local pecularity found also at St Martin's, Haddington (no. 59).

Behind the tapestry on the north chancel wall is a very imperfect painted inscription, the remains perhaps of painted scriptures or lives of the saints. Inset in the apse and chancel floors are several medieval graveslabs; outdoors there are some good 17th- 18th century gravestones, but also a massive stone coffin with head-cavity and decorated on three sides-winged beast at the foot, Christ and the Apostles in thirteen arches along the side. Was this the coffin of the church's builder?

Information from 'Exploring Scotland's Heritage: Lothian and Borders', (1985).


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