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Hume, Old Parish Church

Burial Vault (Period Unassigned), Church (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Hume, Old Parish Church

Classification Burial Vault (Period Unassigned), Church (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) St Nicholas Church

Canmore ID 58559

Site Number NT74SW 2

NGR NT 70010 40844

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Hume
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Berwickshire
  • Former County Berwickshire

Accessing Scotland's Past Project

The site of Hume Parish Church, which was founded in the mid-twelfth century, lies approximately 800m south-west of Hume Castle. Although the churchyard is still in use, the church and an associated burial aisle are both ruinous, the church having fallen out of use after Hume parish amalgamated with Stichill parish in 1640. It was then destroyed around 1653 by Cromwell's troops.

All that remains today are overgrown stone footings and the remains of a burial vault known as the Earl's Aisle. Reserved for the Earls of Home, this structure was originally part of the chancel. Much of it was removed in 1992 and today all that can be seen is an iron railing and some overgrown pieces of walling.

Dedicated to St Nicholas, Hume Parish Church was gifted to the monks of Kelso by Gospatrick, 3rd Earl of Dunbar. It is possible that this mid-twelfth century church was itself constructed on the site of an earlier building, as an ecclesiastical bell found nearby was thought to date from between 600 and 900 AD (NT74SW 36).

Text prepared by RCAHMS as part of the Accessing Scotland's Past project

Archaeology Notes

NT74SW 2.00 70010 40844

NT74SW 2.01 NT 700 407 Cross

NT74SW 36 NT 70 40 Bell

(NT 7000 4082) Hume Church (NR) (Site of)

OS 6"map, Roxburghshire, 2nd ed.,(1909).

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (ONB), describing the 'Earl's Aisle', notes that it was originally a small unroofed enclosure; this was taken down and the present roofed building erected. (It could be that the lower courses of the present building belong to the earlier enclosure, and not to the church, as suggested by OS field surveyor {JFC}.

Name Book 1858.

Hume Church was dedicated to St Nicholas, and during the reign of Malcolm IV (1153-65), Earl Cospatrick gave it to the monks of Kelso. There is nothing known of the old church building; only the foundations in the shape of irregular mounds can be traced in the old burial ground. The only remnant still in existence is an ancient Celtic ecclesiastical bell, now in Kelso Museum.

J Robson 1896; J Ferguson 1892.

The remains are represented by the turf-covered lower courses of a rectangular building, 7.8m by 27.5m externally, average height 0.5m. At the E end the ground slopes, so that the wall rises to 1.2m above ground level.

The S wall of the burial vault, the 'Earl's Aisle', is built on the line of the N wall of the church; the lower courses of the vault wall are of different type and size of masonry from the remainder, and may be part of the church wall in situ.

There is now no museum at Kelso, and the present location of the bell is unknown.

Visited by OS(JFC) 24 January 1955.

The nave of the church now forms part of the burial ground and appears to have done so from at least the 18th century, for the earliest legible dated gravestone within the outline of the building is '1723'. Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS(RDL) 23 August 1963.

Generally as described in the previous field reports, the remains are known locally as Hume Church.

Visited by OS(RD) 20 July 1966.

(NT 7000 4082) St Nicholas' Ch (NR) (rems of)

OS 6"map, (1971).

Only the turf-covered footings of this church remain. It served as the parish church of Hume until the parish was united with Stichill in 1640.

RCAHMS 1980; I B Cowan 1967.


Project (10 August 2018 - 21 August 2018)

NT 70004 40836 (Hume Old Parish Church) and NT 70469

41392 (Hume Castle) A three year project, led by the

Hume Castle Preservation Trust and working with local

volunteer groups and organisations, is being carried out

to investigate the remains of Hume Castle, the medieval

village of Hume, the former parish Church of St Nicholas,

and the surrounding landscape, in order to provide a better

understanding of the history of the sites. Over the course of

the three years a series of workshops and field seasons will

be conducted to investigate their historical background,

complete a walkover survey of the study area, conduct

a geophysical survey and graveyard survey at the former

parish church, conduct a historic building record of the

castle, and carry out excavations at key sites identified

during the survey works.

Contextualising Hume: Gravestone detail © HARP

A programme of work was undertaken 10–21 August 2018.

A walkover survey was conducted within land owned

by the Hume Castle Preservation Trust and surrounding

Hume Castle by HARP, supported by volunteers from the

local community. The walkover survey was used both as a

training opportunity, and to identify the extant remains of

sites surrounding the castle. The survey used results from

a former drone survey completed by HES to target specific

sites identified from the air. The survey identified a number

of the sites picked up by the drone, in particular a series of

house platforms and terraces relating to the former medieval

village and castle structures. Vegetation cover and terrain

made it difficult to identify all of the sites, but those that

were found could also be analysed on the ground, sometimes

suggesting different site types than previously identified.

A possible track way running around the N and E sides of

the castle was also revealed, which appears to have been

subsequently overlain by the dry stone walls of the loaning

to the E, suggesting an earlier date for the trackway. The

survey was able to highlight a number of suitable sites for

future excavation.

A graveyard survey was conducted within Hume Cemetery,

formerly housing the parish church of Hume. The graveyard

contains >100 visible memorial stones which were recorded

by plane table survey, and during 2018 survey and condition

recording were completed on 47 of the stones. A large

proportion of the stones are located within the bounds of the

former church, now visible as an earthen mound, towards

the centre of the graveyard. The earliest stone identified thus

far dates to 1717, and five of the 47 recorded stones have

been found to no longer be located in their original position.

The graveyard survey will continue in 2019.

Geophysical survey was completed within the graveyard

of the church of Hume, along with two fields located

immediately to the E, and S, which formed the glebe once

associated with the church. Within the graveyard the

geophysical results have highlighted a number of graves,

mainly marked by gravestones, and the likely foundations of

the former church. Within the footings of the church there

is evidence of possible internal divisions, while the exterior

of the church has also produced some linear anomalies

that may be representative of earlier walls of the church, or

possibly earlier boundaries of the graveyard. In the glebe

to the E there is evidence for possible pits and postholes,

possibly related to an earlier structure. Further pits have been

identified in the glebe to the S of the graveyard.

Historic building recording was conducted at Hume Castle,

with an enhanced survey taking place to record the exterior

elevations of the W, S, SE, and E-facing walls of the current

folly. The recording has been carried out in order to identify

architectural features within the castle, and to provide a

baseline record. The recording will continue in 2019 with an

aim to complete the record of the exterior elevations, and to

conduct the same level of recording on the interior elevations.

Archive and report: NRHE (intended)

Funder: Heritage Lottery Fund and Fallago Environment Fund


Ian Hill, Kieran Manchip, Samira Hill, Gern Midlane, Iain Pringle

and Rebecca Barclay – Heritage and Archaeological Research

Practice (HARP)

(Source: DES, Volume 19)

Sbc Note

Visibility: This is an upstanding earthwork or monument.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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