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Yester, St Bathan's Chapel And Burial Vault

Burial Vault (Period Unassigned), Chapel (Period Unassigned), War Memorial(S) (20th Century)

Site Name Yester, St Bathan's Chapel And Burial Vault

Classification Burial Vault (Period Unassigned), Chapel (Period Unassigned), War Memorial(S) (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Bothans, Collegiate Church; St Cuthbert's; Yester House; Yester Old Parish Church; Yester Chapel; War Memorial Plaques

Canmore ID 56144

Site Number NT56NW 4

NGR NT 54457 67131

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NT56NW 4 54457 67131

(NT 54460 67124) Burial Vault (NAT) formerly (NAT)

St Cuthbert's Church (NR) (remains of)

OS 6" map (1970).

See also NT56NW 3.00 and NT56NW 9.

Bothans (now Yester) parish church was dedicated in 1241 and was erected to collegiate status in 1421; it was used for worship until 1710 when the present church was built (at NT 53482 68104: see NT56NW 3). The patron saint was St Cuthbert; there is no evidence of any connection with St Bothan, as is alleged by some authorities. Starting about 1753, the nave of the old church was demolished and the medieval choir and transepts converted into a T-plan mausoleum; this work, instigated by Lord Tweeddale, was completed by 1760. The base course of the transepts dates to the 15th century. There is no evidence of a central tower. The exterior of the building has been repaired and largely refaced. The E window is dated 1635. The building is still used as a mortuary chapel by the Tweeddale family.

J G Dunbar 1972; J Bulloch 1963; D E Easson 1948; 1955; C McWilliam 1978; RCAHMS 1924, visited 1913

As described.

Visited by OS (BS) 22 July 1975

Limited excavation was carried out to the exterior of the S, E and N walls of the chapel, before a new drainage system was installed as part of a scheme to make the building wind and watertight.

The initial trench along the S wall proved to be only 0.30m to 0.40m deep as the topsoil lay directly on to glacial sub-soil of hard packed clay and pebbles. Nevertheless the topsoil contained a large amount of disarticulated human bone and several skeletons in situ. These skeletons were left undisturbed.

The trench around the SE transept uncovered the headstones and skeletons of eight family pets as well as a large number of unmarked human skeletons and disarticulated bones, again where possible these were left undisturbed.

The trench along the N side of the building followed the line of an earlier drain and proved to have a much greater depth of topsoil (0.80m). As a result the chapel wall has much more substantial foundations protruding from the base of the wall.

The trench on the E wall of the building proved to be the most interesting as wall foundations for both the N and S walls extended beyond the present eastern termination of the chapel. These foundations were c2.00m wide and built of mortar-bonded rubble. A pit dug as a soak-away drain some 5.00m away from the present east wall also uncovered these foundations. It seems likely that the chapel was truncated during the construction of the extant 18th century building possibly as a result of subsidence associated with the river that flows some 10.00m from the present building. A large amount of human bone was found in this trench and reburied there after the excavation was completed.

Finds from the various trenches consisted of a large amount of 19th and 20th century pottery and bottle glass. Two copper alloy coins were recovered but are as yet unidentified. Copper shroud pins were also recovered from one of the skeletons.

Sponsors: Scotia Archaeology, Historic Scotland.

R Will 1991.


Photographic Survey (July 1956)

Photographic survey by the Scottish National Buildings Record/Ministry of Works in July 1956.

Standing Building Recording (7 November 2013 - 15 November 2013)

This report summarises the results of survey and recording works carried out in late 2013 and early 2014 by Addyman Archaeology at Yester Chapel, Gifford, East Lothian. The work was carried out on behalf of The Yester Chapel Trust. Initial survey and monitoring was undertaken in relation to urgent conservation work in the area of the exterior of the east wall of the south jamb (or transept) of the chapel. Here the existing stone saddle-and-trough roofing and associated cornice detail had failed, causing considerable ingress of water into the masonry fabric of the vault and upper walling of the jamb, expressed internally by the presence of green algal growth. Remedial works were carried out in November 2013 and February - April 2014. The opportunity was also taken to initiate a more general analytical and drawn record of Yester Chapel in order to establish a reliable base-line of information about this important structure, its history and physical evolution.

Information from OASIS ID: addymana1-180679 (K Macfadyen ) 2013

Project (February 2014 - July 2014)

A data upgrade project to record war memorials.

Geophysical Survey (17 March 2015)

NT 54457 67131 A resistance survey was undertaken on 17 March 2015, around Yester Chapel as part of a wider evaluation of the site. The aim of the survey was to define the footings of the original chancel and nave of the church. The survey identified some responses of potential significance, though it did not identify a clear footprint of the church. A series of weak linear trends and discrete anomalies to the W of the chapel do hint at the potential remnants of structural remains. However, interpretation is extremely cautious. The results are thought to be have been influenced by the lack of contrast between potential features and the surrounding glacial till. The likelihood of extensive robbing of potential foundations was considered a further complication.

Archive: Rose Geophysical Consultants

Funder: Addyman Archaeology

Susan Ovenden – Rose Geophysical Consultants

(Source: DES, Volume 16)


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