Scheduled Monument

Whitekirk, remains of Pilgrims' Houses around Tithe BarnSM7850

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Secular: domestic buildings
Local Authority
East Lothian
Whitekirk And Tyninghame
NT 59616 81621
359616, 681621


The monument comprises the remains of early 15th-century pilgrims' houses associated with the pilgrimage centre which developed around the medieval parish church of St Mary, and its nearby healing well, in the late medieval period.

Documentary sources indicate that the houses were built in the early 15th century and demolished in the early 16th, with much of the masonry being re-used in the construction of a tower house, built for Oliver Sinclair ca. 1540. The tower house was extended and adapted in the 17th century to form the parish's tithe barn and was converted to a permanent dwelling in the late 1990s.

Excavation to the immediate W of the tithe barn in 1995 revealed the in situ and demolished structural remains of two buildings believed to form part of the pilgrims' houses complex. A watching brief to the immediate S of the tithe barn identified similar evidence of other demolished structures. The tithe barn stands near the centre of a long ridge of high ground with the holy well lying 200 ENE. It is likely that the pathway which linked the houses with the well followed the crest of the ridge.

The area to be scheduled is approximately oval in shape and follows the contour at the base of the ridge of ground on which the tithe barn sits. It has maximum dimensions of 38m N-S and 95m ENE-WNW and includes the excavated remains and the remainder of the ridge, on which associated remains are expected to survive. Excluded from the scheduling is the tithe barn itself and an area around it which extends 3m beyond its walls. The area is marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as the remains of 15th-century Pilgrims' houses associated with the pilgrimage centre at St Mary's Church, Whitekirk. The monument has the potential to increase our understanding of the nature of medieval pilgrimage in Scotland and our knowledge of the domestic and ecclesiastical architecture of that period.



RCAHMS records the monument as NT 58 SE 12.


GeoQuest Associates (1995) Geophysical Surveys at Whitekirk, near North Berwick, East Lothian.

Headland Archaeology Ltd. (1997) Data Structure Report for an archaeological evaluation and watching brief at Whitekirk Tithe Barn, East Lothian.

McGibbon, D. and Ross, T. (1897) The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, Vol. III, 269-179.

McWilliam, C. E. (1978) The Buildings of Scotland: Lothian, 467-468.

RCAHMS (1924) Inventory of Historical and Ancient Monuments: East Lothian.

Sydeserff, D. (1996) East Lothian Field Names. Transactions of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalist Society, Vol. XXII, 49-85.

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: 24/04/2019 10:00