Scheduled Monument

Abercorn Church, carved stones in Session HouseSM7545

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Crosses and carved stones: cross (free-standing); cross slab; tombstone
Local Authority
West Lothian
NT 8116 79047
308116, 679047


The monument comprises a collection of carved stones displayed in the Session House of Abercorn Church as follows:

1. Hog-backed recumbent stone

Carved from white sandstone, both sides of this monument curve downwards from a plain rounded ridge and are ornamented with seven rows of an escalloped design ending in a narrow undecorated band at the base. The ends are devoid of ornamentation.

2. Hog-backed recumbent stone

Broken, vertically, into two pieces this stone shows five rows of a square-like scaling on either side of a plain rounded ridge. The ends are unornamented.

3. Cross shaft

Carved from white sandstone, this cross shaft is now set in a concrete base. Sculpted in relief on all faces, the obverse shows three distinct panels of ornamentation with a tiny portion of a fourth, possibly of interlaced work, at the top. The upper panel has a diagonal key pattern, the middle display interlaced work and the lower contains a spiral pattern with slight interlaced work in the four corners.

The reverse is damaged along the right margin but the remainder of the face bears a design of intertwining foliage. On one edge of the shaft, a panel depicts intertwining branches while the other edge shows a panel of scroll foliage with a small portion of an upper panel of diagonal key foliage.

4. Cross slab

This stone has a chamfered edge all round and displays an elaborate cross in bas-relief. In the design, a slim shaft rises from a calvary of four steps and is crowned by a cross-head with large trefoiled extremeties filling the space within a circle. The shaft is flanked on the right by a chalice.

5. Cross slab

This stone is damaged at one corner and obviously incomplete. The reverse of the stone is roughly dressed but the obverse is carved with a cross having an ornate circular head and a three-stepped calvary. At the base, to the right, is depicted a pair of shears.

6. Two pieces of a cross shaft

a. The larger portion forms the incomplete lower part of the cross divided into three panels, the lower of which is filled with an interlaced design composed of two interwoven ribbons. The panel above shows a vine branching out into two open spiral scrolls, each tipped with a leaf and encircling a large bird. A simple interlacing appears in the broken panel above.

b. The smaller portion forms the incomplete upper part of the cross with the lower panel forming a continuation of that shown on the lower part of the shaft. The panel above depicts the bodies of two whippet-like animals with limbs and tails intertwined and above this is depicted a flowering vine with interwoven branches tipped with leaves and fruit. On each of the edges, on both portions of the shaft, a long narrow panel bearing a sinuous vine scroll along the whole length of the field has been enclosed by a moulded border.

The area to be scheduled is rectangular in shape and measures 8m N-S ny 6m E-W as marked in red on the accompanying map. Included in the scheduled area are the six stones listed above. Excluded from the scheduling is the fabric of the Session House in which the stones are displayed and the wooden plinths on which they sit.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as a superb collection of early Christian carved stones which has the potential to add to our understanding of the function of such stones in the early Christian church and of the techniques used in their creation.




Calder, C. S. T. (1937-38) Three fragments of a sculptured cross of Anglian type, Pro Soc Antiq Scot, Vol. 72, 217-223.

RCAHMS (1929) Inventory of monuments in Midlothian and West Lothian, 180-2.

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

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Printed: 18/04/2019 17:24