Bassendean, St Mary's Church

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Alternative Names Old Parish Church
Site Type BURIAL GROUND, CHURCH
Canmore ID 57337
Site Number NT64NW 7
NGR NT 63084 45734
Council SCOTTISH BORDERS, THE
Parish WESTRUTHER
Former Region BORDERS
Former District BERWICKSHIRE
Former County BERWICKSHIRE
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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Accessing Scotland's Past

The ruins of St Mary's Church lie to the south of Bassendean village. The church was founded in the late twelfth century. Some parts of the building, such as the blocked windows in the south wall may date from about this period, but the church was altered a number of times during its history, finally being used as the burial place of the Homes of Bassendean until 1860.

St Mary's is a plain, rectangular church with a doorway in the south wall. After falling out of use following the Reformation in 1560, the church was rebuilt in 1647 as the parish church for the newly-created parish of Bassendean. As is still evident, medieval grave-slabs were used to provide building material during the alterations. Its new status as parish church was short lived however: parishioners built a church at Westruther, which was more centrally located in relation to the local population.

In 1649, the church became a burial ground for the Homes of Bassendean. The final burial in the church was of General Home around 1860. In the early years of the twentieth century, repairs were carried out, leaving all four walls standing to a height of 4m.


Text prepared by RCAHMS as part of the Accessing Scotland's Past project at http://www.accessingscotlandspast.org.uk

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Archaeological Notes

NT64NW 7 63084 45734

(NT 6308 4573) Church (NR) (remains of) (NAT)
Bassendean Church (NR) Remains of (NAT)
OS 6-inch map, 1857

Bassendean church, dedicated to St Mary, is now roofless; it is a simple oblong on plan, measuring 54 1/2ft by about 20ft externally. The walls, about 3ft thick, have been brought to a level course at a height of about 12ft, and carefully pointed.
In the S wall are two flat-topped counter-splayed windows with mouldings on the inside, two niches for piscina and holy water stoup, and a doorway.
In the N wall, near the E end, is a plain aumbry with a check for a door. The broken remains of the plain font lie among loose stones and rubbish, and a number of grave- slabs have been used as building material, probably when the church was repaired in 1647. (J Ferguson 1892).
RCAHMS 1915.

The church belonged to Coldstream and appears to have been abandoned at the Reformation. It was again used for divine service from 1647-9, when a new church was built at Westruther, and this building was allowed to become ruinous. It is still used as a bural place by the family of Home of Bassendean
D MacGibbon and T Ross 1897.

This roofless church is as described by the previous authorities. The former graveyard (no gravestones are now apparent, OS surveyor {JFC} 23 February 1955) is enclosed by a grassy bank 0.8m in maximum external height, 0.3m high internally.
Visited by OS (EGC) 29 August 1963.

Although the church of Bassendean is on record at the end of the 12th century, the present remains are of 16th century date.
J Hardy 1882; J Robson 1896; Fasti Eccles Scot [H Scott ed.] 1917; I B Cowan 1967; RCAHMS 1980, visited 1979.

This church stands on a knoll within its oval burial-ground. The building has evidently been conserved (iron lintel-supports having been inserted above one window). A probable font, a tombstone or grave-slab of uncertain date, and several other architectural fragments lie scattered within the interior.
Visited by RCAHMS (RJCM, JRS), 30 September 1993.

 
Books and References

Brooke, C J (2000) Safe sanctuaries: security and defence in Anglo-Scottish border churches 1290-1690, Edinburgh
Page(s): 10, 29, 362, 365 Held at RCAHMS F.5.31.BRO

Cowan, I B (1967) The parishes of medieval Scotland, Scot Rec Soc, vol.93 Edinburgh
Page(s): 15 Held at RCAHMS C.3.2.COW

Ferguson, J (1892) 'Notices of remains of pre-reformation churches, etc, in Berwickshire', Hist Berwickshire Natur Club, vol.13, 1
Page(s): 166-8 illustr.

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Charity SC026749