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- Category: A
- Date Added: 04/11/1965
- Supplementary Information Updated: 05/01/2017
- Local Authority: Stirling
- Planning Authority: Stirling
- Burgh: Stirling
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NS 79564 91677
- Coordinates: 279564, 691677
The fragmentary remains of this church date from several periods. All that remains of the nave is a detached pier dating from the 15th century, consisting of four courses of masonry and a simply moulded capital. The square-ended roofless chancel dates from the early 16th century with the burial aisle of the Murrays of Touchadam added to the north in the 17th century. The chancel has a blocked tripartite window on the south side and a round-arched doorway on the north and inside there is an aumbry and an unusual piscina with two arched recesses. The steeple is preserved entire, constructed by Robert Henderson and Charles Bachop of Stirling, master masons, in 1734. It is of rubble with ashlar margins and rusticated quoins and rises in four stages with string courses to a moulded cornice and ashlar dome which is flanked by urns and carries a drum with small cupola. There is a clock at the top stage of the tower; the mechanism was replaced in 1901. The Auchenbowie burial enclosure with convex rusticated gatepiers designed by Henderson & Bachop also dates from 1734 and is attached to the west wall of the tower.
Statement of Special Interest
The fragmentary remains of the early church, the pillar dating from the 15th century and the chancel from the 16th century are important because of their early date indicating the long history of this eccleiastical site. The parish church of Eccles, as this was first called, appears in a document of about 1150 and a century later it is referred to as the church of St Ninian of Kirktoun . Some survivng details are also significant. The piscina and aumbry in the east wall of the chancel are of unusual design. They are set low in the east wall with two arched recesses perhaps for ciborium and chalice with an ogival hood mould, though this is much worn.
During the 1745 Rebellion the Jacobite army used the church as a store for gunpowder which exploded when they were retreating in 1746 and destroyed most of the church. The tower which survived the explosion is the most prominent feature of the surviving church and had been rebuilt in 1734. It is an important example of a tower which in its design is an advance of the traditional type of Scottish steeple and shows the influence of Classical taste. Instead of the traditional pyramidal tower (such as that at Reay, Caithness of 1739) or a broached slated spire (such as Polwarth of 1703), it has an ashlar dome and cupola. Classical influence is also evident in the moulded cornice at eaves level, corner urns and prominent quoins. In 1725 Henderson had competed with two other architects for the repair and reconstruction of the church and reconstructed the tower with Charles Bachop in 1734. St Ninian s is one of a small group of churches dating from the early 18th centiury in which the academic and vernacular streams of design meet and merge and do so in varying degrees. Other churches in this group are Fort George Chapel, Lasswade Kirk (demolished) and the Roman Catholic Chapel at Preshome.
It is thought that the design of the steeple of St Ninian s Old Kirk was derived from that at Old St Mungo s, Alloa. However the design has been overlaid with refined classical details. Little is known of Henderson and Bachop (Bachop may be related to the family of masons prominent in the Clackmannanshire area in previous century). However almost certainly their knowledge of classicism was obtained through books such as Colin Campbell s Vitruvius Britannicus published in 1717-25 and James Gibbs Book of Architecture published in 1732. See also Donibristle.
In its early origins and its very early use of a restrained Classical style, St Ninian s is of considerable importance in the wider Scottish context.
Canmore: http://canmore.org.uk/ CANMORE ID 46227
Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1860, published 1865) Stirling Sheet XVII.7 (Combined) 25 inches to the mile. Southampton: Ordnance Surv
Gifford, J and Walker, F W (2002). The Buildings of Scotland: Ayrshire and Arran. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Hay, G (1957) The Architecture of Scottish Post Reformation Churches 1560-1843. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.
RCAHMS (1963) Stirlingshire: an Inventory of the Ancient Monuments. Edinburgh: HMSO. no 133.
Transactions of the Stirling Natural history and Archaeological Society, 1902-1903, pp118-119
Inv 133 (il) TSNHAS (1902-3) Building contract for tower etc. Cant & Lindsay p17 OSA XVIII p403 NSA VIII p321
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