The monument is the remains of a church dating from the medieval period that was closely associated with the Douglas family. The monument includes the footings of the nave, the walls of the south aisle, a later clock tower, and ground below and around these structures where buried archaeological remains are expected. The monument is situated at about 190m above sea level on an elevated knoll on the northern fringe of the village of Douglas.
The scheduled area is irregular on plan to include the remains described above and an area around in which evidence for the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the roofed choir which was restored in late 19th century, a ladder in the tower, and external metal steps. The scheduling excludes the above ground elements of all memorials not attached to the nave and south aisle, the above ground elements of all burial enclosures and iron railings, and all burial lairs where rights of burial exist. The monument was first scheduled in 1920.
Statement of National Importance
The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:
The monument includes the remains of a church and burial ground dating from the medieval period and an octagonal clock tower of the late 16th or 17th century. The bell tower contains one of the earliest working tower clocks in Scotland which adds to the significance of the monument. The nave is no longer upstanding, although the footings can still be traced under the turf. The south aisle survives in a ruinous, although stable, condition and overall the monument is in good condition and stable. The graveyard is no longer in use but is well maintained. The roofed choir was restored in the late 19th century and is not included in the scheduling.
The upstanding masonry is part of a parish church that dates from the late 13th century or early 14th century. However, Romanesque architectural fragments displayed in the choir indicate an earlier 12th century church on the site. There is potential to examine in detail the construction and form of the church, its development sequence and dating, and its chronological relationship with the use of the burial ground. We can expect that relatively complex archaeological remains will survive, perhaps including evidence for the earlier church. The monument has a long development sequence, reflecting the use of the site from the 12th century or earlier until modern times. It has high intrinsic significance through its potential to reveal a complex history which can inform our understanding of the origin and development of parish churches and the parochial system as well as changes in church layout and architecture over time.
There is also high potential for the survival of burials from the 12th century onwards, both in the footprint of the nave and south aisle and in the adjoining parts of the burial ground. Recent archaeological interventions suggest human bone survives in the soil conditions found on this site and there is the potential that burials can reveal evidence for health, diet, illness, cause of death, and perhaps the types of activities people undertook during life. The scheduling has been defined to include an area close to the medieval church where early burials can be expected.
The church is closely associated with the Douglas family, who used the choir as their mausoleum from the early 14th century. The church is dedicated to St Bride (Bridget), patron saint of the Black Douglases. The site of Douglas Castle, one of the family's strongholds documented as early as 1288, stands about 1km to the northeast (Canmore ID 46528). The two sites complement each other and there is potential to research and understand them as a pair. The church can also be compared with other proprietorial churches of the same period, in particular Lincluden Collegiate Church (Canmore ID 65571, scheduled monument reference SM90200) and Bothwell Collegiate Church (Canmore ID 45691, listed building reference LB5134) which were both founded by Archibald the Grim, 3rd Earl of Douglas.
Although they are not included in the scheduled monument designation, the effigies and funerary monuments in the roofed choir are one of the most important collections of later medieval sepulchral sculpture in Scotland and can be compared with those at St Mary's in Bute and Inchmahome priory; this enhances the cultural significance of the ruined components of the medieval church.
The site is associated with Sir James Douglas, who died in 1330 on the way to the Holy Land with the heart of King Robert I. 'The Good Sir' James of Douglas was close a close ally and friend of Robert the Bruce. He is believed to have attacked and killed English troops inside the church in 1307 (or 1308), part of an episode that is known as 'the Douglas Larder'. Thanks to James's alignment with Bruce, and his role as one of the chief Scottish commanders during the Wars of Independence, the Black Douglases rose to become one of Scotland's most powerful noble families of the day.
The oldest datable tomb in the roofed choir (excluded from the scheduling) is reputed to be of Sir James. Several of the effigies date to this period of use, when St Brides was a proprietorial church of the Douglas family. This association adds to the significance of the site. St Bride's fell into neglect following the suppression of the Black Douglases by James II in 1455 but continued as parish church. The clock face bears the date 1565, although the tower itself bears the faintly inscribed date 1612 or 1618. The church, or at least the choir, continued in use for worship until 1781, when a new parish church was built elsewhere. The choir was restored in the late 19th century for Charles, 12th Earl of Home.
Statement of national importance
This monument is of national importance because of it makes a significant addition to our understanding of medieval churches and their relationship with important aristocratic families. There is potential to examine in detail the construction and form of the church, its development sequence and dating, and its chronological relationship with use of the burial ground. It is likely that relatively complex burial archaeological deposits will survive, including evidence for the demolished nave of the existing church and an earlier church. The monument would have been a prominent part of the late medieval landscape and remains a significant feature of the modern landscape. The association with the Douglas family adds to the significance of the site. The loss or damage of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the form and character of medieval churches in Scotland and the influence of aristocratic patronage.
Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk CANMORE ID 46529 [accessed on 17/02/2016].
Origines Parochiales Scotiae (1851) Origines Parochiales Scotiae: the antiquities ecclesiastical and territorial of the parishes of Scotland,1 Edinburgh. pp1, 152-4, 160
MacGibbon and Ross, D and T. (1896-7) The ecclesiastical architecture of Scotland from the earliest Christian times to the seventeenth century , Vol 2. Edinburgh. pp520-37.
Cowan and Easson, I B and D E (1976). Medieval religious houses, Scotland: with an appendix on the houses in the Isle of Man . London. p228.
Fawcett, R. (2002) Scottish medieval churches: architecture and furnishings. Stroud. pp186, 311, 316-317.
Stewart, D. (2004) St Bride s Church, Douglas (Douglas parish), watching brief . p5, 124.
The West of Scotland Archaeological Service Historic Environment Record reference is 63076.
Historic Environment Scotland Properties
St. Bride's Church
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St Bride's Chapel, including choir and memorial stones in churchyard, excluding scheduled monument SM90265, boundary walls and gatepiers, DouglasLB1490
- Designation Type
- Listed Building (A)
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Printed: 19/01/2019 18:42