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 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 showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary. 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.

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