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Herdmanston, Chapel

Chapel (13th Century), Grave Slab(S) (Medieval)

Site Name Herdmanston, Chapel

Classification Chapel (13th Century), Grave Slab(S) (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Herdmanston House Policies, Chapel

Canmore ID 54693

Site Number NT46NE 4

NGR NT 47158 69812

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council East Lothian
  • Parish Saltoun
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District East Lothian
  • Former County East Lothian

Archaeology Notes


NT46NE 1.00 4724 6980 House

NT46NE 1.01 472 698 Wall

NT46NE 1.02 4714 6984 West Gate

NT46NE 1.03 4729 6986 East Gate

NT46NE 4 47158 69812 Chapel

NT46NE 3 4710 6997 Dovecot

NT46NE 39 4700 6967 Icehouse

NT46NE 46 4730 6992 Stable

(NT 4716 6981) Chapel (NR)

OS 6" map (1909)

This barrel-vaulted building, in the grounds of Herdmanston House, appears to be the W part of a chapel. Oblong and orientated, it measures externally 36 1/4ft by 21ft. A cross wall footing within suggests the demarcation of the sanctuary and that the structure continued farther E, the present E gable being modern. Details of a window in the W wall suggests that the structure is of 13th century date, but there are no other features to corroborate this. Within it are two monumental slabs to members of the St Clair family; one is dated 1594. Rebuilt about 1840 (C McWilliam 1978), the chapel is kept in good repair; an elaborate 12th century Norman stone stoup from it is in the NMAS.

The chapel, dedicated to St John the Evangelist, was founded at some date in the early 13th century by John Sinclair of Herdmanston with a chaplain for the convenience of his family and guests.

RCAHMS 1924, visited 1913; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1958

This building, the family vault of the St Clairs, is in good repair and is as described.

Visited by OS (BS) 25 July 1975.


Field Visit (28 August 1913)

Within the grounds of Herdmanston House (No. 163) on the south bank of the Tyne four miles south-south-west of Haddington, is a vaulted structure apparently the western portion of a chapel (fig. 155 [plan]). The building is oblong and is orientated, measuring externally 36 feet 3 inches by 21 feet. A cross wall footing within suggests the demarcation of the sanctuary and that the structure was continued farther eastwards, the east gable being comparatively modern. Interiorly the structure is 14 feet wide, 24 ½ feet long to the footing and 31 ¾ feet to the west gable. A small window in the west wall with a daylight of 1 foot 10 inches has an obtusely pointed head and interiorly a shouldered scoinson arch. A smaller window is set in the south wall. A semicircular barrel vault with an extreme height of 10 ½ feet ceils the structure and is covered with a wooden roof. The detail of the west window suggests that the structure belongs to the 13th century, but there are 'no other features to corroborate this.

STOUP. Against the north wall is a fine 12th century stoup of freestone, originally. engaged and projecting from a wall. On four engaged shafts, terminating in moulded bases of flattened section, which follow the contour of the shafts, is a block carved as a multi-cubical capital with a rectangular abacus; the top is hollowed into a basin 6 inches deep and roughly circular in form with a diameter of 1 foot 2 inches. The shafts have projected 1 foot 4 inches from the wall face and are 6 inches in diameter. The base is 7 inches high; above this the shafts rise 1 foot 5 inches and terminate at the necking of the capital. The total height of the stoup is 2 feet 11 inches, and the diameter of the capital at the top of the abacus is 1 foot 4 ¼ inches by 1 foot 5 inches.

MONUMENTAL SLABS. Before the south window are two monumental slabs: (1) measures 5 feet 11 inches by 2 feet 3 inches ;it bears a shield with the field recessed leaving the charge, an engrailed cross (Sinclair) in relief. The initials W S flank the shield. Around the edge of the stone is inscribed in Gothic lettering:


Each angle is occupied by a square panel recessed leaving in relief an engrailed cross

(2) Measures 5 feet 10 inches by 2 feet 4 inches and has a shield bearing three cocks and a crescent (Cockburn). On the top of the shield is the letter D and on the dexter side the initial S, on the sinister side the initial C. Around the edges of the slab runs the legend in Gothic characters:


The chapel is kept in good repair.

HISTORICAL NOTE. This chapel was founded at some date in the early 13th century by John Sinclair of Herdmanston (cf. [RCAHMS 1924] Introd. p. xx) with a chaplain for the convenience of his family and guests. Provision was made against any possible loss in the way of gifts by the ‘mother church’ of Salton, which belonged to the Abbey of Dryburgh; the chaplain was made subject to Salton Church, and the Abbey was granted a small piece of land in consideration of the concession (1). The chapel appears in deeds as ‘the chapel of St. John the Evangelist near the castle’ of Herdmanston.

RCAHMS 1924, visited 28 August 1913.

(1) Reg. de Dryburgh, pp. 135-6; Inquisit. Special. Hadd. Nos. 340, 388. Reg. Mag. Sig. (1505) s.a.


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