Scheduled Monument

Clynekirkton, Old Parish Church and churchyard 40m N of BalranaldSM10484

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard; church
Local Authority
NC 89472 6065
289472, 906065


The monument comprises Clynekirkton Old Parish Church, its associated churchyard and watchhouse, and the probable site of its medieval predecessor. The surviving church is 18th century in date and visible as an upstanding ruin.

The church is situated on a hillside at the midpoint between West Clyne, East Clyne and Clynelish, on the W bank of the Clyne Burn, at about 45m OD. It lies by a curving single-track road, the route of a drove/coffin road. An associated manse is situated to the S and a free-standing belfry stands upon a knoll to the NW, on the other side of the road. Socach Hill rises to the NW.

An Early Christian chapel at 'Kille of Clyne' may have been associated with the 19th-century finds of two Class I Pictish symbol stones and the head of a rectangular cross-slab. The latter had been built into the E gable of the 18th-century church. One of the symbol stones apparently originated from a field at Clynemilton Farm and was then moved to the churchyard. All three stones were later transferred to Dunrobin Museum.

In the 13th century Clyne was assigned as part of the prebend of the dean of Caithness in the construction of Bishop Gilbert, 1224x45. A church dedicated to Saint Aloyne had been built at Clynekirkton at least by 1625-26, at which time it was repaired by Sir Robert Gordon.

The present church possesses a datestone of 1775. It was enlarged in 1827 with the addition of the N wing and a gallery, and the bell was moved from the detached bell tower to within the wing. Following The Disruption of 1843 the congregation dramatically decreased in number, which instigated the removal of the galleries. By 1853 the two doors were converted into windows. The E and W wings were converted into a vestry and storeroom in 1855.

The manse was enlarged around 1840, at which time it is possible that the present churchyard wall was built. A range of 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century tombstones lie within the coped walls of the churchyard.

As the populations of Clyne parish dwindled and that of Brora grew, Clynekirkton became increasingly distant from its congregation. It was eventually closed, in 1906, following the building of a new church. Around 1922 the roof and furniture were removed, the N wing demolished and the low N wall constructed.

Evidence suggests that the 1775 church was originally rectangular in plan, of double-height and garret, aligned E-W, and had entrances in the middle of its E and W gables and at either end of its S elevation. A T-plan was formed in 1827 due to the addition of the N wing, which probably housed the main entrance and belfry; the W entrance was also blocked.

The church measures approximately 21.5m E-W by 7m N-S (18m N-S including the site of the N wing) over walls about 0.9m thick. The church is located at the northernmost part of the lozenge-shaped churchyard, which measures approximately 53m E-W by 41m NNW-SSE.

The church ruin still stands to wallhead height and a significant number of table-top graveslabs and funerary monuments, some constructed of Caithness slate, survive in the churchyard.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described, up to and including the churchyard walls, the watchhouse at the NNW to the W of the churchyard wall, within which archaeological evidence may be expected to survive. It is irregular in plan with maximum dimensions of 53m NNW-SSE by 59m E-W, and excludes all road surfaces to a depth of 30cm, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as a well-preserved church with the archaeological and historical potential to contribute to an understanding of a multi-period ecclesiastical site, from the early Christian or early medieval period up to the post-Reformation era. The site is of high historical importance because its development reflects the development of the parish, which is supplemented by the availability of documentary sources. The funerary monuments also possess significant architectural value.



RCAHMS records the monument as NC 80 NE 17.


Allen, J. R. and Anderson, J. (1903) The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland: a classified illustrated descriptive list of the monuments with an analysis of their symbolism and ornamentation, vol. 3, 38-40 and 50-51.

Bain, R. (1899) History of the Ancient Province of Ross, 55-56.

Cowan, I. B. (1967) 'The Parishes of Medical Scotland', Scottish Record Society, Vol. 93, 32.

Gordon, R. (1813) Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland: 1630-1813, 7 and 39.

Hay, G. (1957) The Architecture of Scottish Post Reformation Churches, 173 and 276.

MacGibbon, D. and Ross, T. (1892) The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. 5. 221.

Mackay, J. (1894) 'Sutherland Place Names', Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, Vol. 18, 333-334.

The New Statistical Account, (1840) Vol. 15, 158.

Ritchie, J. N. G. (1985) Pictish Symbol Stones: a Handlist, 13.

RCAHMS (1911) Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland, No. 22, 7 and No. 293, 100.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

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Printed: 24/06/2024 01:07