Scheduled Monument

Torphichen PreceptorySM90305

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Last Date Amended
Ecclesiastical: preceptory; tower
Local Authority
West Lothian
NS 96886 72533
296886, 672533


The monument consists of the remains of Torphichen Preceptory, first founded in the 12th century by the Knights Hospitallers (or the Knights of St. John) on lands granted to them by David I (1124-53). The remains include the N and S transepts and the crossing surmounted by a belltower, all of which still stand, together with the foundations of a domestic cloister to the N, and the remains of the choir to the E. The remains are of 12th century foundation with major additions constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries.

The standing remains consist of a two storey building containing the N and S transepts and the crossing surmounted by the belltower and upper chambers reached by way of a turnpike stair to the right of the wall blocking off the nave. The original nave of the church was dismantled and a new church (Torphichen Parish Church) was built in 1756 in its place. Part of the nave of the original building is incorporated within the Parish Church but is not included in the scheduling. The dividing wall between the two contains an archway (now blocked in and not in its original place) which is one of the earliest parts of the Preceptory together with pieces of stonework associated with earlier phases. The archaeological remains consist of the foundations of the cloister ranges of the Preceptory which lie to the N of the church and an area to the E which includes the foundations of the choir.

What still stands of the Preceptory itself, the N and S transepts and the crossing and the belltower and an area to the N of this building containing the cloister ranges have been in the care of the Secretary of State for Scotland since 1927.

The area to be scheduled is to include that which is already in guardianship together with a further area to the E which contains the foundations of the choir. Within the area to be scheduled the following are to be excluded: the Custodian's Hut and existing information boards and stone plinths, the burial aisle backing onto the boundary wall immediately to the E of the Preceptory at the end of the choir, all grave slabs which are within the original choir and all lairs for which burial rites exist at the date of scheduling. The area to be scheduled is irregular in shape and has maximum dimensions of 50m N-S by 87m E-W, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to contribute to our broader understanding of medieval ecclesiastical architecture and practice. More particularly this Preceptory was the only house of the Knights Hospitallers or Knights of St. John founded in Scotland and as such holds an important place in their history and also in the history of the surrounding area.



The monument is listed in the RCAHMS as NS 97 SE 7.


Hay, G. (1957)The Architect of post'Reformation Churches, 1560'1843.

MacGibbon & Ross (1887-920) Castellated and Domestic Architecture Vol. V, 131'40.

MacGibbon & Ross (1896-7) Ecclesiastical Architecture Vol. III, 139.

Mackay, H. P. R. (1966'67), Torphichen Preceptory: a footnote to the published description, Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., Vol. 99, 167'72.

McCall, H. B.(1894) The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Mid'Calder.

National Statistical Account(1957), Vol. II(Linlithgowshire), 469'70.

RCAHMS(1929), Midlothian & West Lothian, No. 379, 234'7.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Torphichen Preceptory

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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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