Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NS 79564 91677
279564, 691677


The fragmentary remains of this church date from several periods. All that remains of the nave is a detached pier dating from the 15th century, consisting of four courses of masonry and a simply moulded capital. The square-ended roofless chancel dates from the early 16th century with the burial aisle of the Murrays of Touchadam added to the north in the 17th century. The chancel has a blocked tripartite window on the south side and a round-arched doorway on the north and inside there is an aumbry and an unusual piscina with two arched recesses. The steeple is preserved entire, constructed by Robert Henderson and Charles Bachop of Stirling, master masons, in 1734. It is of rubble with ashlar margins and rusticated quoins and rises in four stages with string courses to a moulded cornice and ashlar dome which is flanked by urns and carries a drum with small cupola. There is a clock at the top stage of the tower; the mechanism was replaced in 1901. The tower includes a re-used coped stone decorated with two incised circles filled with smaller incised circles. It resembles a hogback monument and may be 10th or 11th century in date. The Auchenbowie burial enclosure with convex rusticated gatepiers designed by Henderson & Bachop is attached to the west wall of the tower. Like the tower, it dates to 1734.

Statement of Special Interest

The fragmentary remains of the early church, the pillar dating from the 15th century and the chancel from the 16th century are important because of their early date indicating the long history of this eccleiastical site. The parish church of Eccles, as this was first called, appears in a document of about 1150 and a century later it is referred to as the church of 'St Ninian of Kirktoun'. However, the coped stone re-used in the tower suggests an eccesiastical site here in the 10th or 11th centuries. The piscina and aumbry in the east wall of the chancel are of unusual design. They are set low in the east wall with two arched recesses perhaps for ciborium and chalice with an ogival hood mould, though this is much worn.

During the 1745 Rebellion the Jacobite army used the church as a store for gunpowder which exploded when they were retreating in 1746 and destroyed most of the church. The tower which survived the explosion is the most prominent feature of the surviving church and had been rebuilt in 1734. It is an important example of a tower which in its design is an advance of the traditional type of Scottish steeple and shows the influence of Classical taste. Instead of the traditional pyramidal tower (such as that at Reay, Caithness of 1739) or a broached slated spire (such as Polwarth of 1703), it has an ashlar dome and cupola. Classical influence is also evident in the moulded cornice at eaves level, corner urns and prominent quoins. In 1725 Henderson had competed with two other architects for the repair and reconstruction of the church and reconstructed the tower with Charles Bachop in 1734. St Ninian's is one of a small group of churches dating from the early 18th centiury in which the academic and vernacular streams of design meet and merge and do so in varying degrees. Other churches in this group are Fort George Chapel, Lasswade Kirk (demolished) and the Roman Catholic Chapel at Preshome.

It is thought that the design of the steeple of St Ninian's Old Kirk was derived from that at Old St Mungo's, Alloa. However the design has been overlaid with refined classical details. Little is known of Henderson and Bachop (Bachop may be related to the family of masons prominent in the Clackmannanshire area in previous century). However almost certainly their knowledge of classicism was obtained through books such as Colin Campbell's 'Vitruvius Britannicus' published in 1717-25 and James Gibbs' 'Book of Architecture' published in 1732. See also Donibristle.

In its early origins and its very early use of a restrained Classical style, St Ninian's is of considerable importance in the wider Scottish context.



Canmore: CANMORE ID 46227


Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1860, published 1865) Stirling Sheet XVII.7 (Combined) 25 inches to the mile. Southampton: Ordnance Surv

Printed Sources

Gifford, J and Walker, F W (2002). The Buildings of Scotland: Ayrshire and Arran. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Hay, G (1957) The Architecture of Scottish Post Reformation Churches 1560-1843. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.

RCAHMS (1963) Stirlingshire: an Inventory of the Ancient Monuments. Edinburgh: HMSO. no 133.

Transactions of the Stirling Natural history and Archaeological Society, 1902-1903, pp118-119

Online Sources

Other Information

Inv 133 (il) TSNHAS (1902-3) Building contract for tower etc. Cant & Lindsay p17 OSA XVIII p403 NSA VIII p321

About Listed Buildings

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.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

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Printed: 18/06/2024 23:43