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Kirkmadrine Church And Burial-ground

Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Church (Early Medieval), Cross Slab(S) (Early Medieval), Gravestone(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Kirkmadrine Church And Burial-ground

Classification Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Church (Early Medieval), Cross Slab(S) (Early Medieval), Gravestone(S) (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Old Parish Church Of Toskerton; South Cairnweil; Mctaggart Memorial

Canmore ID 60441

Site Number NX04NE 1

NGR NX 08014 48389

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Stoneykirk
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Wigtown
  • Former County Wigtownshire

Archaeology Notes

NX04NE 1 08014 48389

Kirkmadrine Church (NR)

OS 6" map (1909)

(NX 0801 4839) Ch. (NAT)

OS 6" map (1957)

A modern church now occupies the site of the parish church of the old parish of Toskerton now generally called Kirmadrine, which was united to Stoneykirk in 1618. The old church was dedicated to St Medran of Muskerry and belonged to Whithorn Priory.

Watson, however, considered that the dedication was to someone of the name, perhaps of Draigne or Drine. Radford suggests that the site was a place of importance, probably a monastery (published as such by the OS) in the early Christian period, as three 5th-6th century gravestones, which were noted by Todd in 1820 as standing in the burial ground surrounding the church, were later found two acting as gateposts to the burial ground while the third had been moved to form a gate-pillar of the Stoneykirk U F Church Manse. Other fragments of stones dating between the 8th-12th centuries have also been found at various times in the churchyard.

There is no sign at all, either from the air or on the ground, of any form of enclosed cemetery of early type at Kirkmadrine and it is supposed that the original position of the stones was elsewhere in the neighbourhood (see NX13NW 24). Stones under guardianship.

C A R Radford and G Donaldson 1953; H E Maxwell 1917; A C Thomas 1968

H Scott 1917; OS Dark Ages map 1965; R G Collingwood 1939; W J Watson 1926

The three 5th/6th century gravestones, together with fragments of several 8th-12th century cross slabs and gravestones, are in the porch of the church, which is no longer in use.

Visited by OS (RD) 9 September 1970

This church, which served the medieval parish of Toskerton, stood within its walled burial-ground on a low rise 410m S of South Cairnweil farmsteading. The site is occupied by a burial-aisle of the MacTaggarts of Ardwell which incorporates some earlier masonry, most noticeably at the E end, and may preserve the ground-plan of the former church (the aisle measures 12.7m by 5.6m within walls 0.9m thick).

Three Early Christian inscribed stones, and five cross-fragments which range in date from the 8th to the 12th century, found on, or near, the site, are displayed in the porch at the W end of the aisle.

The parish of Toskerton was united with Stoneykirk parish in 1618.

NSA 1845; Name Book; J Stuart 1867; A Mitchell 1872; G Chalmers 1887-1902; J R Allen and J Anderson 1903; P H M'Kerlie1906; RCAHMS 1912; 1985, visited 1984; H E Maxwell 1917; R G Collingwood1938; W D Simpson 1940; I B Cowan 1967; C A R Radford and G Donaldson 1980.


Publication Account (1986)

Displayed in a glass-fronted porch of a late 19th century burial chapel at Kirkmadrine are the oldest Christian monuments in Scotland outside Whithom. The most infonnative and oldest of the group, a pillar stone which dates from the 5th century, bears a six-line Latin inscription: 'Here lie the holy and chief priests (ie Bishops), Ides, Viventius and Mavorius', and, at the top, above a circled cross 'AClpha) and (Omega),. The incised equal-anned cross has a crooked loop on the upper ann, signifying the sacred chi-rho monogram. A similar cross and symbol are fonned on a second pillar, presumably of later 5th century date, which is more enigmatically inscribed '(Here lie) ... sand Florentius'. A smaller pillar stone has the Latin inscription, 'The beginning and the end', a variant of the Alpha and Omega symbol as defmed in Revelation 21:6. The fonn of the cross and the style of lettering suggest a date of around AD 600. The other funerary monument on display include fIve cross-fragments which range in date from the 8th to the 12th centuries.

When first discovered in the 19th century the three oldest pillar stones were serving as gateposts and as a stile-slab in the churchyard wall; the rest were found in the churchyard itself Collectively, they represent an early Christian cemetery of some importance in this neighbourhood. Unfortunately, nothing is otherwise known about the identity and authority of these bishop-priests; presumably they served Christian communities in this area, perhaps as an offshoot from Whithom (no. 79). The compound name, Kirkmadrine, implies a dedicatory saint, usually taken to be St Mathurinus, but the name is not recorded before 1500. The medieval parish was known as Toskerton and was united with Stoneykirk in 1618.Lady McTaggart Stewart of Ardwell had the chapel rebuilt in neo-Romanesque style out of the medieval ruins on the site, modelling it on Cruggleton (no. 70).

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Dumfries and Galloway’, (1986).

Watching Brief (14 January 2014)

NX 0800 4838 A watching brief was undertaken on 14 January 2014 during a minor excavation in the porch of the church ahead of the installation of a new floor. No finds or features of archaeological significance were recorded.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

David Murray – Kirkdale Archaeology

(Source: DES)


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