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Haddington, Bullet Loan, St Martin's Church

Church (12th Century)

Site Name Haddington, Bullet Loan, St Martin's Church

Classification Church (12th Century)

Alternative Name(s) St Martin's Kirk; St Martin's Chapel

Canmore ID 56540

Site Number NT57SW 5

NGR NT 52101 73942

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NT57SW 5 52101 73942

(NT 5210 7394) St Martin's Church (NR) (rems of)

OS 6" map, (1969).

St Martin's Church, originally a chapel belonging to St Mary's Nunnery (NT57SW 10) was a small, rectangular structure comprising nave and chancel, of which the roofless nave is the only structure that remains. However, excavations a few years before 1896 revealed the foundations of the chancel; these were not found during DoE excavations in 1912. It was built in the early 12th century, and was altered in the 13th century when a structure was vaulted and buttresses added. In the 17th century, it became a Protestant place of worship but was ultimately allowed to decay. The structure had been thoroughly repaired by the DoE.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1896; RCAHMS 1924, visited 1912; W D Simpson and S Piggott 1970; SBS Haddington 1977.

Architecture Notes

Now demolished


Field Visit (23 March 1920)

The Church of St. Martin, dating from the beginning of the 12th century, stands on a slightly elevated plateau at the eastern extremity of the burgh of Haddington. It has been a small rectangular two chambered structure comprising nave and chancel, of which the nave is the only portion that remains; but it is stated* that in course of a previous excavation the eastern termination was found and measured 12 feet square; the excavations carried out by H.M. Office of Works in 1912, however, failed to reveal these foundations.

The nave (fig. 78 [plan]) measures internally some 55 ¼ feet by 16 ½ feet; the lateral walls and west gable are 41 feet thick and the chancel wall 3 ½ feet thick, all built of irregularly coursed freestone with ashlar dressings. The nave is covered with a slightly pointed barrel-vault, which may not be an original feature; of this a portion at the western end still remains. Above the vault there has been an upper storey lighted by windows in the west gable. An external offset course returns around the walls at wallhead level.

In the 13th century buttresses were added to the lateral walls, apparently in connection with the construction of the vault. These have a projection of 4 feet and rise from a splayed basement course in three stages to a steeply pitched weather table under the offset course.

There is a doorway on the north and another on the south; the windows, one on the north and two on the south, are narrow round-headed lights with chamfered jambs and wide-splayed ingoings, their scoinson arches are semi-circular. An aperture in the west wall appears to have been a window similar to those just described. The chancel arch (fig. 79) 7 feet wide, is not centred in the east wall, probably to provide space for an altar on the north. It is semicircular in form and springs from a simple impost moulding 61 feet above the ground. The arrises are chamfered. A round-headed piscina with a fragmentary basin is placed south of the chancel arch; on the jamb and head is wrought a grooved chamfer.

The walls are pierced by three tiers of holes resembling those at St. Helen's Church Berwickshire [RCAHMS 1915, No.46]. Their purpose is obscure, and their position negatives the suggestion that they held put-logs for scaffolding. The structure has been thoroughly repaired by H.M. Office of Works.

HISTORICAL NOTE. Alexander de St. Martin got various lands near Haddington from Countess Ada, mother of William the Lion, at some date between 1153 and 1178 (1), but his connection, if any, with the church is not known. His name lands may have carried the saint's name from an earlier foundation. The lands and tenements of St. Martinsgate with mills and other pertinents were gifted by Alexander de St. Martin to the Nunnery at Haddington (2),which, in time, acquired also the tithes of the church (3). The Nunnery held courts ‘apud Ecclesiam S. Martini in lie Nungait’ (4).

RCAHMS 1924, visited 11 July 1912.

* Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland vol. i, p. 363.

(1) Laing Charters, No.2; (2) Archaeol Scot., i., p. 109; (3) Lamp of Lothian, p. 382; (4) R.M.S. (1566) No. 1753.

Publication Account (1978)

The chapel of St. Martin dates from the beginning of the twelfth century and belonged to a nearby nunnery (RCAHM, 1924, 343). In the seventeenth century it became a Protestant place of worship but was ultimately allowed to decay. Located in Nungate, the chapel was originally a small rectangular two-chambered structure comprising a nave and chancel of which the nave is the only portion that remains (RCAHM, 1924, 43).

Information from ‘Historic Haddington: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1978).

Project (25 April 2018 - 31 May 2018)

NT 52096 73940 Geophysical surveys were conducted in and around the old kirk of St Martin’s, 25 April – 31 May 2018, as part of research associated with the Haddington 700 celebrations. The geomagnetic, electrical resistance and GPR surveys almost certainly detected a number of archaeologically significant features and added value to existing knowledge of the site.

Some of the most prominent anomalies reflect the course of a former path, which entered the churchyard from the S and turned around the church passing through both doorways. The GPR survey detected evidence for the remains of a former chancel at the E end of the church, extending c4m E from the nave. Within the western part of the chancel, next to the chancel arch, both resistance and GPR surveys detected a strong anomaly consistent with the presence of a large stone, possibly the consecrated stone upon which the results of the Nungate Bailie and Magistracy elections were proclaimed, according to documentary sources. A number of possible graves were also identified within the limits of the GPR survey, close to the church, particularly on the N side.

Both resistance and magnetic surveys detected evidence for a former road across the northern part of the study area, as shown on a plan of 1766. Narrow curvilinear anomalies heading S then SW from the eastern part of the road could reflect an earlier boundary for a much larger churchyard, detected as a possible wall footing in the N and a foundation trench in the S. All three techniques provided evidence for landscaping in the churchyard. Areas towards the eastern, southern and western edges of the churchyard appear to contain re-deposited or made ground. Some of this material was probably derived from in and around the ruined church while other materials, including probable building rubble, appear to have been brought in. Elsewhere in the E of the site, traces of former cultivation were detected, as well as occasional possible soil-filled features.

Archive: NRHE

Funder: East Lothian Council and HES

Duncan Hale – Archaeological Services, University of Durham

(Source: DES Vol 19)

OASIS ID: archaeol3-318466

Ground Penetrating Radar (25 April 2018 - 28 April 2018)

Ground penetrating radar survey. The works were commissioned by East Lothian Council and conducted by Archaeological Services Durham University. Information from Archaeological Services, Durham University.

Resistivity (25 April 2018 - 28 April 2018)

Resistivity survey. The works were commissioned by East Lothian Council and conducted by Archaeological Services Durham University. Information from Archaeological Services, Durham University.

Magnetometry (25 April 2018 - 28 April 2018)

Geomagnetic survey. The works were commissioned by East Lothian Council and conducted by Archaeological Services Durham University. Information from Archaeological Services, Durham University.


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