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Whitekirk, Tithe Barn And Pilgrims' Houses

House(S) (Period Unassigned), Tithe Barn (16th Century), Tower (16th Century)

Site Name Whitekirk, Tithe Barn And Pilgrims' Houses

Classification House(S) (Period Unassigned), Tithe Barn (16th Century), Tower (16th Century)

Alternative Name(s) The Granary

Canmore ID 56676

Site Number NT58SE 12

NGR NT 59605 81615

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council East Lothian
  • Parish Whitekirk And Tyninghame
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District East Lothian
  • Former County East Lothian

Archaeology Notes (1962 - 1981)

NT58SE 12 59605 81615

(NT 5960 8161) The Granary (NR)

OS 6" map (1968)

See also NT58SE 41.

This tithe barn stands about 100 yds N of Whitekirk Church (NT58SE 11). It is a three-storeyed building measuring 66ft E-W by 19ft transversely; its gables are crow-stepped. The W end of this building represents the remains of the tower built about 1540 by Oliver Sinclair with stone from the pilgrims' houses (see NT58SE 41); this was extended in the following century.

C McWilliam 1978; RCAHMS 1924, visited 1913

This tithe barn was in good condition when seen in 1962. The remains of the tower at the W end have a barrel-vaulted basement and a garderobe in the N wall.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 15 November 1962


Watching Brief (May 1997)

NT 5960 8161 As part of the Scheduled Monument Consent works for the conversion of the Tithe Barn, Whitekirk, East Lothian into a dwelling house and for the creation of a sunken car park to the immediate W of the building, Headland Archaeology Ltd carried out an archaeological watching brief on ground breaking works within and immediatly outside the building and also on access roads to the site. During the construction of an access road to the car parking area to the W of the barn archaeological remains were identified. This meant the car park was eventually constructed further to the NW. The deposits and features found to the immediate W of the barn appear to be the remains of buildings and demolition debris. A section cut through these deposits shows atleast two phases of construction or demolition on the site. Pottery from the 12th to 15th centuries found in relation to these deposits support the identification of the building remains as those of the 'pilgrim houses' which were established on the site in the early 15th century, due to the proximity of the nearby healing well which was a major focus of pilgramage in the later medieval period. The report also says that a panel that may have come from a 14th century shrine was found, built into the 17th century extension to the building. To the S of the barn the watching brief of service trenches revealed a halo of demolition rubble in the vicinity of the tithe barn and a series of possible structural remains in the SW corner of the field.

Sponsor: George Tuer, Whitekirk Mains

NMRS MS/899/34 (May 1997 Headland Archaeology Ltd)

Archaeological Evaluation (1997)

NT 5960 8161. Archaeological evaluation and a watching brief in advance of groundworks at and in the vicinity of the late medieval tithe barn at Whitekirk identified the rubble remains of at least two small rectilinear buildings, associated with sherds of Colstoun ware and Scottish East Coast redware (D Hall, pers comm). Given the archaeological and historical background to the site, these may represent the remains of the early 15th- century pilgrim houses which were established on the site by James I. Further structural remains of medieval date were identified in the SW corner of the field, close to the churchyard.

Work inside the tithe barn revealed four fragments of grey sandstone upon which were incised a series of compass-drawn motifs, including the Cistercian rose or marigold figure and a four-armed cross. Two of the fragments join. The pieces are interpreted as the remains of a possible gable-end stone shrine: it may be identical to a shrine at the site which was procured from Melrose in 1309 and destroyed at the Reformation.

Full details are lodged with the NMRS.

Sponsor: Mr George Tuer, Whitekirk Mains.

C Lowe 1997

Geophysical Survey (October 2014)

An area ground resistance survey totalling 4, 000 sq. m. was carried out in October 2014 in part of a field to the North of the churchyard of St Mary's Parish Church at Whitekirk, East Lothian in the parish of Whitekirk and Tyninghame. The survey, centred on NT 59602 81568 (NT58SE 12) was arranged by Connolly Heritage Consultancy. Ten 20x20 grids were surveyed over an area of 100x40 sq.m in a gently sloping pasture. The area was bounded by the wall of the churchyard to the S, by the garden fence of the tithe barn to the N and by field and garden walls to the East and West. Resistance variations recorded revealed that the site was generally of a low resistance with the exception of three areas of higher resistances at the SE, extending from the NE and at the extreme E of the survey area.

Edinburgh Archaeology Field Society


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