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Canonbie Parish Church

Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Church (Period Unassigned), War Memorial (20th Century)

Site Name Canonbie Parish Church

Classification Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Church (Period Unassigned), War Memorial (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Canonbie, St Martin's Church; Church Of Liddel; Canonbie Church & Burial-ground; Donaldson Monument; United Parish Church Of Canonbie

Canmore ID 67527

Site Number NY37NE 6

NGR NY 39501 76328

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Canonbie
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Annandale And Eskdale
  • Former County Dumfries-shire

Archaeology Notes

NY37NE 6 39501 76328

See also NY47NW 4.

What was probably part of a sedilia from the priory NY47NW 4 is built into a tomb situated near the E side of the burial ground; and late 16th century grave-slabs are built into the N wall of the burial ground.

RCAHMS 1920.

The church of Liddel, as it was originally known, should not be confused with the similarly-known church of Castletown. It is first mentioned in 1220 when a prior is recorded, as is a chaplain serving the church, which is evidently the religios house of Liddel granted previous to this date to Jedburgh by Turgot de Rossedale. The priory, which would thus appear to have possessed a parochial aisle, remained a cell of Jedburgh, though not until the 17th century is it clearly established that parish and priory were interdependent.

I B Cowan 1967.

Nothing can be seen of the medieval parish church of Canonbie, which is first mentioned in 1220. Dedicated to St Martin, it was a dependency of the nearby priory (NY47NW 4) and probably stood in the area of the burial ground (centred NY 3937 7628) to the WSW of the present church (NY 3943 7633), which was built in 1822.

RCAHMS 1981, visited November 1980.

Statistical Account (OSA) 1795.

Mr J Waugh (Session Clerk) believes that the present Canonbie parish church, also dedicated to St Martin, occupies the site of the earlier church noted above. The alleged sedilia transferred from the priory to the churchyard between 1815 and 1854 (J and R Hyslop 1912) now forms part of the Rev James Donaldson's tomb at NY 3943 7627. It takes the form of a Norman arch but cannot be verified as authentic. A similar arched tomb is to be seen in the graveyard a few metres away.

Information from OS (IF), 20 August 1981.

Church [NAT] (at NY 3950 7632)

Vault [NAT] (at NY 3943 7627)

OS 1:10,000 map, 1983.

Canonbie Parish Church, by William Atkinson, 1821-2. Large buttressed and ashlar-walled box with an uncrenellated parapet at the gables. Two tiers of windows, Tudor-arched below, four-centred above. N and S porches with low parapets. Projecting from the centre of the long W side, a tower with set-back buttresses and a battlement rising into square corner turrets. This is of three stages, the bottom and top with hoodmoulded four-centred openings, the second with a pointed light in each face. Inside, cast-iron columns supporting a gallery round the N, S and W sides, its front simply panelled. Boxy pews, late 19th century pulpit in the centre of the E wall.

Graveyard to the W. Across its centre, a long line of 18th century headstones, some aedicular, decorated with heraldry, angels' heads (souls), and reminders of death, several with flowers spiralling up the sides, many given charm by the ineptness of execution. To the E of this line, a large and sqaure late Georgian mausoleum, with a hoodmoulded and pointed door in its N face. E of this, the monument to the Rev. James Donaldson (died 1854). It is placed in a 13th century round-arched recess, perhaps of a tomb, the only surviving fragment of Canobie priory; dogtooth enrichment of the arch, the hoodmould's left label stop with knotted zoomorhic carving, the right floriated. On the back of this monument, a small weathered wall monument, probably of the 18th cent: aedicular, with a large coat of arms in the pediment.

J Gifford 1996.

Canonbie. Listed as church, burial-ground and architectural fragment.

RCAHMS 1997.

Architecture Notes


Architect: William Atkinson 1822. Contractor: Gregan and Crichton. John Nicholson paid for C I windows £85 4s 6d.



'Border Magazine,' May 1899 - 1 photograph.


Buccleuch Muniments. Chamberlain's Accounts.

GD 224/527/6, 1824-25, P. 42 - information on payment to architect.


Project (February 2014 - July 2014)

A data upgrade project to record war memorials.


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