Peebles, Cross Road, Cross Kirk
Church (13th Century), Friary (15th Century)
- Council Scottish Borders, The
- Parish Peebles
- Former Region Borders
- Former District Tweeddale
- Former County Peebles-shire
NT24SE 4.00 25062 40725
NT24SE 4.01 2506 4072 Cist; Cross
(NT 2506 4072) Cross Kirk (NR) (remains of)
(NT 2506 4074) Remains of (NAT) Monastery (NR)
OS 25"map, (1965).
The ruins of the Cross Kirk, together with some fragments of conventual buildings, stand on a slight eminence in the N outskirts of Peebles, outside the medieval burgh.
The church was founded by Alexander III following the discovery of a cross on the site in 1261 (see NT24SE 4.1). It first comes on record in 1296, and was raised to conventual status as a house of Trinitarian friars in 1474, domestic buildings and a cloister being erected to the N of the church. The W tower was probably added at the same time. The church was burnt by the English in 1549, but the fabric appears to have been repaired before the dispersal of the friars in or about 1561, the church then being used as the parish church of Peebles. It was abandoned in 1784, when a new church was built (at NT 2503 4039 - see NT24SE 6). Of the 13th century nave, only the N wall stands to its original height; the E end of the S wall is fairly entire, but the W end is reduced to its lowest courses, above which a modern wall has been built as a boundary to the burial place of the Hays of Haystoun. The W gable wall rises to its full height at the junction with the N wall of the nave, the remainder being level with the first floor of the tower, which rises 50' high, and has incorporated 5 storeys. Except for a small part of the N wall of the chancel, the walls both of the chancel and sacristy are reduced to their lowest courses, and have disappeared in places. The remains came under guardianship of the Department of Environment in 1925, having carried out excavations there in 1923, exposing some fragments of the conventual buildings and of the E end of the church. RCAHMS 1967, visited 1959.
The remains are as described.
Visited by OS(SFS) 19 September 1974.
The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh:
The 'uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton', numbered 89, 90 and 95, Vol.
Collegiate Church - which was situated at the western extremity of the Old Town, and of which little more
than the steeple can be seen above ground. A pencil sketch of the Cross Church or Monastery of the Holy
Cross, which stood a few hundred yards north from the Old Town.
This sketch, dated about 1800, is accompanied by a drawing of the south door. Out of all the square
surrounded by Conventual Buildings of the Cross Church, nothing is now to be seen but a fragment of the
See NMRS: PB/264 and PB/265 for photographic copies of Hutton's sketches.
Scottish Record Office:
Repair of the Earl of Morton's burial place. Payment of £84 to Lord Morton
for the work.
James Hay's 'Account of the Earl of Morton's Money'
1687 GD150/2401/1 Page 20
Publication Account (1977)
Prior to the Reformation the church in the 'Old Town' dedicated to St. Andrews served as the parish church for Peebles. It existed at least as early as the first quarter of the twelfth century (Lawrie, 1905, 46). Little is known of its original fabric or condition. Foundations have occasionally been discovered through gravedigging and it has been suggested that the church had two aisles, one on the north side of the choir and another on the north side of the nave and that it was larger in size than the later dedication, the Cross Kirk (Gunn, 1908, 201). It suffered extensive damage in 1549 when it was burned by the English and the tot al repair bill was too great for the parishioners to meet. In 1560 the townsmen were granted use of the Cross Kirk and the church of St. Andrews slowly fell into ruin. Some attempt was made to preserve what fabric and burial ground remained in use, but there was much quarrying and in 1609 a 'dowcot' was built in the church steeple (Williamson, 1895, 10). Tradition maintains that Cromwell stabled his horses in the church during his siege of Neidpath Castle, but this incident is not recorded in the burgh records (Renwick, 1910, xxi). In 1856 the structure consisted of a few broken walls and a massive tower (Chambers, 1856, 51) and the tower was 'drastically' restored in the second half of the nineteenth century (RCAHM,1967, 210).
A path connected St. Andrews Church with the later dedication, the Cross Kirk, also in the 'Old Town'. The Cross Kirk was established by Alexander ill after the 1261 discovery of holy relics on the site, including a cross and the ashes of bones allegedly belonging to 'St. Nicholas the Bishop' (Cowan and Easson, 1976, 109). At first, Cross Kirk was non-conventual and the only building on the site was the church, an aisleless rectangle. A community of Trinitarian friars appears to have been established there with the approval of the bailies by 1448 (Cowan, 1976, 110) and in 1474 the domestic buildings and cloisters were erected to the north of the church (RCAHM, 1967, 204). In January 1560-1, the Trinitarians quit their convent and the Cross Kirk was fitted up as a Protestant place of worship. Despite the change in religious order, the Cross Kirk remained a haunt for pilgrims at least until 1601, when a notice appears that in the year following 'there was no resorting of people into the Croce Kirk to commit any sign of superstition there' (Gunn, 1912, 67). The Cross Kirk served as the parish church until 1784. In the middle of the sixteenth century a western tower was added and alterations to the building in the seventeenth century included the construction of a new parish church on the Castlehill the roof of the Cross Kirk was removed but the walls were kept entire and in 1809 an application was made to turn the church into a coal fold, although this plan was ultimately abandoned (Chambers, 1856, 53) . Chambers relates that as late as 18ll the foundations of the cloisters were still visible but they were eventually cleared away when the ground was enclosed and planted (1856, 53). In that same year part of the south wall of the church collapsed (RCAHM, 1967, 204).
The Town Council of Peebles in 1773 agreed to contribute towards the building of a new parish church on the Castlehill and gave the necessary ground between the High Street and the bowling green (Buchan, 1925, ii, llO). Chambers caustically observed that the church stood 'awkwardly awry to the direction of the public street, the fabric generally and the steeple in particular bear the unmistakable marks of the dearth of taste which pervaded during the reign of George ill' (1856, 55). The present parish church on this site dates from the late nineteenth century.
Information from ‘Historic Peebles: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1977).
Publication Account (1985)
The original late 13th century church consisted of an aisleless nave, chancel and sacristy. It forms the bulk of the surviving structure. The north wall of the nave rises to something like its original height; the east end of the south wall is also fairly complete, as well as the main doorway in the west gable. In its pre-17th century form, the chancel seems not to have been separated from the nave.
Fordun records that a "magnificent and venerable" cross had been found in 1261, lying on a stone inscribed with "the place of Saint Nicholas the bishop". The surviving fragments of a sculptured sandstone slab portraying an ecclesiastic, presumably St Nicholas, are, however, mid 16th century in date (cast: original in Tweeddale Museum). The church was apparently completed and the shrine dedicated in 1268, and a cult of St Nicholas developed, for pilgrimages are known to have been made at least from the later 14th to the early 17th century.
Consequently, the late 15th century Trinitarian Priory church and tower were designed from the first to incorporate shrine and relics; and in brder not to enclose or conceal this, the now-fragmentary priory buildings were added, unusually, to the north side of the church.
A more recent addition to the north wall is the burial site of the Douglas Earls of March, dating from 1705; adjoining the south wall at the point there formerly the feretory or repository for the saintly relics was located, stands the aisle of the Earls of Maxton and later the Erskines of Venlaw, mainly 18 th or 19th century.
Abandoned at the Reformation, the cloister and associated buildings were used to isolate plague victims in 1666; and schools were held there in the early 18th century. By 1796, however, little remained.
Information from 'Exploring Scotland's Heritage: Lothian and Borders', (1985).
Standing Building Recording (2013)
NT 25062 40725 This small collection was assessed in November 2013. It is in many ways typical of the kind of carved stone that tends to remain at a minor monument, comprising small column shafts, stair treads, jambs and voussoirs of fairly simple design. Among the collection there is a group of four stones which were originally part of window(s) in the church, comprising window jambs and a mullion, still with their glazing checks.
This and other inventories of carved stones at Historic Scotland’s properties in care are held by Historic Scotland’s Collections Unit. For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Márkus, Archetype, 2013
Visibility: Upstanding structure, which may not be intact.
Information from Scottish Borders Council.