Bothans Parish Church / St Cuthbert's Church, Yester House / Yester Chapel
For copyright information please contact ELC Archaeology Service
- HER number: MEL765
- HER number: MEL745
- Site Name: Bothans Parish Church / St Cuthbert's Church, Yester House / Yester Chapel
- Grid Reference: 354447 667118
- Civil Parish:
- Summary: Medieval church, converted into mausoleum 1753
- Description: NT56NW 4 54460 67124
See also NT56NW 3.00 and 9.
(NT 54460 67124) Burial Vault (NAT) formerly (NAT)
St Cuthbert's Church (NR) (remains of)
OS 6" map (1970)
(1-6) Bothans (now Yester) Parish Church was dedicated in 1241 and was erected to collegiate status in 1421; it was used for worship until 1710 when the present church was built (at NT 53482 68104: see NT56NW 3). The patron saint was St Cuthbert; there is no evidence of any connection with St Bothan, as is alleged by some authorities. Starting about 1753, the nave of the old church was demolished and the medieval choir and transepts converted into a T-plan mausoleum; this work, instigated by Lord Tweeddale, was completed by 1760. The base course of the transepts dates to the 15th century. There is no evidence of a central tower. The exterior of the building has been repaired and largely refaced. The E window is dated 1635. The building is still used as a mortuary chapel by the Tweeddale family.
J G Dunbar 1972; J Bulloch 1963; D E Easson 1948; 1955; C McWilliam 1978; RCAHMS 1924, visited 1913
(7) As described.
Visited by OS (BS) 22 July 1975
(8-9) Limited excavation was carried out to the exterior of the S, E and N walls of the chapel, before a new drainage system was installed as part of a scheme to make the building wind and watertight.
The initial trench along the S wall proved to be only 0.30m to 0.40m deep as the topsoil lay directly on to glacial sub-soil of hard packed clay and pebbles. Nevertheless the topsoil contained a large amount of disarticulated human bone and several skeletons in situ. These skeletons were left undisturbed.
The trench around the SE transept uncovered the headstones and skeletons of eight family pets as well as a large number of unmarked human skeletons and disarticulated bones, again where possible these were left undisturbed.
The trench along the N side of the building followed the line of an earlier drain and proved to have a much greater depth of topsoil (0.80m). As a result the chapel wall has much more substantial foundations protruding from the base of the wall.
The trench on the E wall of the building proved to be the most interesting as wall foundations for both the N and S walls extended beyond the present eastern termination of the chapel. These foundations were c2.00m wide and built of mortar-bonded rubble. A pit dug as a soak-away drain some 5.00m away from the present east wall also uncovered these foundations. It seems likely that the chapel was truncated during the construction of the extant 18th century building possibly as a result of subsidence associated with the river that flows some 10.00m from the present building. A large amount of human bone was found in this trench and reburied there after the excavation was completed.
Finds from the various trenches consisted of a large amount of 19th and 20th century pottery and bottle glass. Two copper alloy coins were recovered but are as yet unidentified. Copper shroud pins were also recovered from one of the skeletons.
Sponsors: Scotia Archaeology, Historic Scotland.
R Will 1991.
(10) Historic Scotland Listed Building Description: 15th century chapel with east window of 1635 and later refacing. Adam Brothers, 1753, Rococo Gothic west elevation. Probably remaining choir and transepts of St Cuthbert s Collegiate Church, served as Yester Parish Church until 1705.
Large blocks of coursed sandstone, 15th century base course, eaves cornice and a slab slated roof.
WEST ELEVATION: Adam Brothers, 1753. Gabled entrance bay with recessed pointed-arch panel; ogival doorway, crocketted carving and finials; studded door ornate armorial above flanked by small niches; oval oculus at apex of recessed panel with ornamented surround and looped tracery. Pendant frieze to cornice and cusping to gablehead, with feathery crockets and finial. Diagonal set-off angle buttresses.
EAST ELEVATION: reticulated traceried window, 1635, with moulded surround in choir jamb; cross finial. Blank sides to north and south.
TRANSEPTS: to north and south with set-off angle buttresses, masque corbels and shaped mannered carving above cornice to the west. 3-light stone round-arched windows in recessed segmental panels to the north and south; cross finials.
INTERIOR: pointed stone vaults to each jamb, depressed arches into transepts; Tweeddale burial monuments of 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Remnants of medieval wall painting.
Statement of Special Interest:
An archaeological survey of 2015 discovered and recorded remnants of rare medieval wall paintings to the interior of the south transcept of the church.
Statutory address, category of listing and listed building record revised in 2016. Previously listed as 'Yester House, St Bothan s Chapel, Formerly St Cuthbert s Collegiate Church'.
(11) Yester Chapel was descheduled by HES on 07/09/2016 as part of the Dual Designation Project. It remains an A Listed Building.
- For more information contact: East Lothian Council HER
- Related Monuments:
- Related Places:
- Associated Periods:
- Bibliographic reference: Fawcett, R. 2002. Scottish medieval churches: architecture and furnishings. 236, 347.
- (1) Bibliographic reference: Dunbar, J G. 1972b. 'The building of Yester House, 1670-1878', Trans E Lothian Antiq Fld Natur Soc Vol. 13 1972, p.20-42. 31-2.
- (10) Bibliographic reference: Historic Scotland. Historic Scotland Listed Building.
- (11) Unpublished document: Peaty, M. 2010. Sketch showing existing drainage at Yester Chapel.
- (2) Bibliographic reference: Bulloch, J. 1963. 'Bothan's Kirk', Trans E Lothian Antiq Fld Natur Soc Vol. 9 1963, p.24-40. 24-40.
- (3) Bibliographic reference: Easson, D E. 1948. 'Two collegiate churches of East Lothian', Trans E Lothian Antiq Fld Natur Soc Vol. 4 1948, p.11-18. 13-15.
- (5) Bibliographic reference: McWilliam, C E. 1978a. Lothian except Edinburgh. 213-14.
- (6) Bibliographic reference: RCAHMS. 1924. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Eighth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of East Lothian. 143-5, No.250.
- (7) Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Site Visit.
- (8) Bibliographic reference: Will, R. 1991a. 'Yester Chapel (Yester parish): medieval parish church', Discovery Excav Scot 1991, p.48-9. 48-9.
- (9) Unpublished document: Scotia Archaeology Ltd. 1991. Yester Chapel 1991; Report of March 1991 Excavation.