Scheduled Monument

Cullingsburgh, St Mary's Church, churchyard and brochSM2099

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
28/12/1953
Last Date Amended
10/02/2003
Type
Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard; church, Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch
Local Authority
Shetland Islands
Parish
Bressay
NGR
HU 52110 42301
Coordinates
452110, 1142301

Description

The monument comprises the remains of St Mary's Church and burial ground, and a prehistoric broch (defensive tower) immediately adjacent, all sited on a small promontory at Cullinsburgh, Bressay. The broch was first scheduled in 1934 and St Mary's Church in 1953, but inadequate areas were included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present re-scheduling rectifies this. In addition, given the close proximity of the two monuments, the two scheduled areas are being combined into one.

The church appears to date from the medieval period and may have been dedicated to St Mary. It is the only medieval cruciform church to have been identified in Shetland so far, although the transepts may have been later additions to the usual arrangement of rectangular nave and chancel. By 1930 the S transepts had been demolished and most of the other walling was represented by a drystone dyke. Older masonry can be observed both in the E end and in the N transept gable.

Sometime during the 19th century, a Pictish cross-slab with an ogham inscription was found near the church, perhaps within the churchyard. The cross-slab now resides in the National Museum of Scotland.

The rectangular churchyard is demarcated by a drystone wall, which traverses a large stony mound at its NW corner. This is almost certainly the remains of a broch, a defensive stone-built tower dating probably from the Iron Age, sometime between 500 BC and AD 500. Three-quarters of the broch mound lies outwith the graveyard dyke, and one-quarter within it. No remains of broch walling are now visible. Typical prehistoric stone tools have been recovered from the surface of the site.

The area to be scheduled includes the remains of the church, the churchyard and the broch, and an area around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive. It has maximum dimensions of 52m N-S by 57m W-E, as indicated in red on the accompanying map. All burial lairs still in use are excluded from the scheduling.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as the only example of a medieval cruciform church in Shetland. The discovery of the cross-slab in the 19th century suggests that the history of this monument as a church site dates at least as far back as the 9th or 10th century; while the existence of a broch mound in the near vicinity not only demonstrates that the site overall has a long history of occupation and use, but also that it has the potential to elucidate what happened to high status domestic prehistoric societies around the time that Christianity was adopted. The broch mound itself has the potential to enhance our knowledge of prehistoric architecture, land-use and economy.

References

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as HU54SW 5.

References:

MacGibbon D and Ross T 1896-7, THE ECCLESIASTICAL ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND FROM THE EARLIEST CHRISTIAN TIMES TO THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, Edinburgh, Vol. 3, 157-9.

RCAHMS 1946, TWELFTH REPORT WITH AN INVENTORY OF THE ANCIENT MONUMENTS OF ORKNEY AND SHETLAND, Edinburgh, HMSO, 1, No. 1083.

Sibbald R 1711, DESCRIPTION OF THE ISLES OF ORKNEY AND ZETLAND, 29.

Ritchie A 1999, EXPLORING SCOTLAND'S HERITAGE: SHETLAND, Exploring Scotland's Heritage Series, Edinburgh, 99, No. 37.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. 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 www.historicenvironment.scot.

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot. You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at designations@hes.scot.

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Printed: 20/11/2018 16:09