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Bass Rock, St Baldred's Chapel

Chapel (Medieval)

Site Name Bass Rock, St Baldred's Chapel

Classification Chapel (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) St. Baldred's Chapel

Canmore ID 57845

Site Number NT68NW 2

NGR NT 6018 8732

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/57845

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council East Lothian
  • Parish North Berwick
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District East Lothian
  • Former County East Lothian

Archaeology Notes

NT68NW 2 6018 8732.

(NT 6018 8732) Chapel (NR) (Remains of)

OS 6" map (NG)

St Baldred died on Bass Rock in March, AD 606 and and a chapel existed on the island in remote times.

J P Lawson 1847

On the central of the 3 indistinct terraces which form the surface of Bass Rock 'are the ruins of a little oblong church, which was dedicated to St Baldred and occupied the traditional site of his cell.

I C Hannah 1913

St Baldred's Chapel on the Bass Rock. - The ruin of the chapel is perched on a grassy terrace on the southern side of the rock at an elevation of 200 feet above ordnance datum. It is a small undistinguished structure dating from the 16th century. On plan it is rectangular and measures externally 30 1/2 feet from east to west by 20 3/4 feet from north to south; it is orientated 15 degrees south of east. The ruin, despite its exposed situation, is in a fair state of preservation.

Historical Note -"1542, The V. day of January, M. Vilhelm Gybsone, Suffraganeus to David Beton, Cardynall and Archbysschop of Sant Andros, consecrat and dedicat the paris kirk in the Craig of the Bass, in honor of Sant Baldred, bysschop and confessor, etc (Abbotsford Club). According to an unprinted bull of Innocent VIII, the 'parish church' of the Bass was 'newly erected' in 1492 and the 'rector' at that time was Robert Lauder.

RCAHMS 1924

In 1542 a chapel was erected on the island (of the Bass), and, as is usually thought, on the site of the cell in which Baldred led a life of contemplation and austerity.

It is suggested that it may have been in use until the Reformation, when it seems to have been abandoned. In 1677 the ammunition of the garrison of the Bass was kept in it.

W F Gray 1948

The four walls remain. The east and west walls are intact and the others are about 7ft high. They are approximately 3ft, thick and in good condition.

Visited by OS Reviser (DAD) 29 June 1952

Activities

Field Visit (9 July 1920)

The ruin of the chapel is perched on a grassy terrace on the southern side of the rock at an elevation of 100 feet above ordnance datum. It is a small undistinguished structure dating from the 16th century. On plan (fig. 100) it is rectangular and measures externally 30 ½ feet from east to west by 20 ¾ feet from north to south; it is orientated 15 degrees south of east. The walling is rubble built mainly in the basalt of the rock but with a slight admixture of light coloured freestone, which has been imported. Against the west gable are the remains of a forestair, which led to a loft at the western end; the entrance to this loft had a hollow chamfer wrought on its jambs, which, being of freestone, are greatly eroded by weather. The north wall and east gable are blank; the south wall contains the entrance to the chapel towards the western end and east of this, two windows side by side. These openings have been lintelled and have segmental scoinson arches in rear, the dressings being executed in a greenish porphyry. The entrance is chamfered on jambs and lintel. The windows have been glazed and are rebated in front of the glazing check for shutters. The wall heads are 8 feet high, the gables are skewed and have rudimentary skew-puts.

Internally the structure measures 25 feet by 14 feet 6 inches. East of the entrance and in the same wall there is a benatura in freestone. The head is roughly ogival, but the bowl, which has projected, is broken. The east gable contains a recess, which also has a head roughly ogival, constructed in red porphyry. This was possibly a credence; in it lies part of an image too fragmentary to be identified. At the end of the south wall is a small rectangular recess, undressed. The ruin, despite its exposed situation, is in a fair state of preservation.

HISTORICAL NOTE. ‘1542, The v. day of January, M. Vilhelm Gybsone, Suffraganeus to David Beton, Cardynall and Archbysschop of Sant Andros, consecrat and dedicat the paris kirk in the Craig of the Bass, in honor of Sant Baldred, bysschop and confessor, &c’ (Extractae Variis Cronicis Scocie, Abbotsford Club, p. 255). According to an unprinted bull of Innocent VIII the ‘parish church’ of the Bass was ‘newly erected’ in 1492 and the ‘rector’ at that time was Robert Lauder.

RCAHMS 1924, visited 9 July 1920.

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