Kirkconnel, Old Parish Church

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Alternative Names Springkell, Old Church And Graveyard; Springkell House Policies; Kirkconnel, Old Parish Church And Churchyard: War Memorial Plaque
Canmore ID 67053
Site Number NY27NE 1
NGR NY 25019 75354
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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Architectural Notes

Irregular-plan burial ground containing mainly 18th and 19th
century stone monuments and fragment of former Kirkconnel
church. Also contains burial place of "Fair Helen of
Kirkconnel Lea". and of Adam Fleming, her lover, whose stone
is pointed out (a second stone is said to be that of "Fair
Helen"). Enclosed mainly by 19th century iron fence with
plain gateway. Some table-tombs; many 18th century
headstones with good artisan sculpture; good aedicular
monument within Maxwell of Springkell enclosure to W of
CHURCH: E gable and foreshortened N and S walls of E end of
church survive to near full height; building closed at W by
high wall, probably to convert church fragment to burial
enclosure. Rubble-built with ashlar dressings and rusticated
quoins. Forestair on N wall; loft door and E loft window
with moulded jambs. Originally vaulted at ground.

Both Adam Fleming and "Fair Helen's" stones are Guardianship Monuments. Kirkconnel parish was annexed to Kirkpatrick Fleming. Old Statistical Account, 1794, vol XIII, p.274 ff. gives a comparatively early account of the "Fair Helen" tradition, and include a version of the ballad.
GRAVESLABS: To Adam Fleming and 'Fair Helen' Scheduled 20 November 2002 No 90191.

Groome, GAZETTEER, n.d. (2nd ed). Vol IV pp. 417-8. RCAHM,
INVENTORY, 1920 nos. 367 and 373.
Information from Historic Scotland
Listed 1971, De-listed 2008.
Scheduled Ancient Monument.

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Archaeological Notes

NY27NE 1.00 25019 75354

NY27NE 1.01 NY 2503 7534 Fair Helen's Tombstone
NY27NE 1.02 NY 25020 75356 Maxwell Mausoleum

For present parish church of Kirkpatrick Fleming (NY 2764 7009), see NY27SE 27.

For Kirkconnel, Fair Helen's Cross (NY 2498 7537), see NY27NW 9.

Not to be confused with Kirkconnel parish church in Nithsdale, for which see NS71SW 22.

(NT 2501 7535) Kirkconnel Church (NR) (Remains of)
OS 6" map (1957)

Kirkconnel church first comes on record in 1191; the church was dedicated to St Conal and the parish was united with Kirkpatrick Fleming in 1609.
H Scott 1915-65.

The remains of Kirkconnel Church consist of a roofless rectangular building measuring 7.0m E-W by 6.0m transversely over mortared stone walls 0.7m thick. The walls are about 3.5m high on average, the W gable being entire. An outside stair abuts the S wall and a doorway is in the E wall. Inside are the springings of a barrel vault.
Surveyed at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (WDJ) 16 October 1967.

Kirkconnel (Glasgow, Annandale). Although this church does not appear in any valuation rolls of the diocese of Glasgow, it was evidently an independent parsonage lying within the patronage of the Carlyles of Torthorwald from at least 1529 to the Reformation.
I B Cowan 1967.

Kirkconnel church in its present form is post-Reformation, and none of the grave-slabs visible (NY27NE 1.01) pre-date the 17th century, although there is some evidence of the platform of an earlier church beneath the present one. The form of the place-name is late, and is probably connected with a medieval dedication to Convallus, a disciple of Kentigern (W J Watson 1926). (Cf Kirkconnel near New Abbey, associated with a 12th century church dedication.) (This early church was doubtless associated with the nearby deserted medieval village - see NY27NW 15.)
T H McK Clough and L R Laing 1969.

No change to the previous field report.
Visited by OS (IA) 21 February 1973

Nothing is visible of the old parish church of Kirkconnel, but it probably stood on the S side of the 18th-century mausoleum that occupies the high ground on the N side of the burial-ground; the area is respected by the disposition of 18th-century graveslabs. The mausoleum, which was erected in about 1725 for the Maxwells of Springkell (probably after the church was demolished) is rectangular on plan and of two storeys; the ground floor originally had a barrel-vault and access to the upper storey was gained by a forestair on the S. At the edge of the field, some 30m to the W of the mausoleum, there is a stone cross, possibly a medieval preaching cross.
Visited by RCAHMS (IMS, PC), 2 July 1993.

On the edge of the wooded park 0.5km NW of Springkell House (NY27NE 13.00) is Kirkconnel Churchyard, serving a parish united to Kirkpatrick-Fleming in 1609. In it, the roofless W end of the old church. This surviving part is a rubble-built rectangle, c. 6.8 by 5.8m; some of the walling is probably medieval, but the cornice (best-preserved on the S side) and the rusticated quoins of the W gable appear late 17th century.
Magnificent collection of 18th century headstones, carved, often in high relief, with emblems of mortality, angels' heads and heraldry.
J Gifford 1996.

Listed as Kirkconnel, church, burial-ground and medieval graveslabs.
RCAHMS 1997.

Scheduled as 'Kirkconnel old church and graveyard, 520m WNW of Springkell...'
Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 13 March 2008.

February 2014 to July 2014

Notes A data upgrade project to record war memorials.

Further details

Books and References

Brooke, C J (2000) Safe sanctuaries: security and defence in Anglo-Scottish border churches 1290-1690, Edinburgh
Page(s): 328 Held at RCAHMS F.5.31.BRO

Childe and Simpson, V G and W D (1961a) Illustrated guide to ancient monuments in the ownership or guardianship of The Ministry of Works: vi: Scotland, Edinburgh
Page(s): 85-6 Held at RCAHMS B.4.MON

Clough and Laing, T H McK and L R (1969) 'Excavations at Kirkconnel, Waterbeck, Dumfriesshire, 1968', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc, 3rd, vol.46
Page(s): 128-30

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Charity SC026749