Scheduled Monument

Seton Collegiate ChurchSM13368

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (

The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Ecclesiastical: collegiate church; grange/farm - secular buildings associated
Local Authority
East Lothian
NT 41822 75090
341822, 675090


The monument is the remains of Seton Collegiate Church, constructed mainly in the second half of the 15th century and the early 16th century on the site of an earlier church. It survives as a roofed building comprising an apsidal choir, sacristy, and transepts with crossing tower; the surrounding footings of the domestic accommodation for the college of priests; a collection of carved stones; and the boundary walls. The church is situated in landscaped woodland grounds, immediately to the E of Seton House. The monument was originally scheduled in 1920, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

Seton Collegiate Church is cruciform on plan and the upstanding remains survive in excellent condition. The choir is 16m long by 7m wide. It is of three bays and aisle-less, with a three-sided apse at its eastern end. It is roofed with a high pointed barrel vault, with decorative vault ribs confined to the apse. The two- and three-light choir windows have curvilinear tracery and have splayed jambs and pointed heads. A two-storey sacristy is entered from the N wall of the choir. On the central bay of the S wall of the choir, an external doorway has been built up. The current entrance to the church is through the western arch of the crossing, which is surmounted by a square central tower that terminates in a truncated broach spire. The tower is flanked by transepts to the N and S with barrel-vaulted ceilings. The walls of the church are of sandstone ashlar. A slated roof has replaced the original stone flags covering the choir, but stone slabs remain on the roof of the sacristy and transepts. Evidence of the nave is visible on the W external face of the tower. Seton church displays many outstanding architectural features and fine carved stonework. Of particular note in the choir are an elaborate stone piscina and a 15th-century monumental tomb with recumbent stone effigies of a man and woman.

The Bishop of St Andrews is recorded as consecrating a building at Seton in 1242, although there has probably been a church on this site from at least the 12th century. Investigations by the Ministry of Works revealed elements of rubble foundations which have been interpreted as the remains of an earlier chapel on this site. They also uncovered an extensive spread of wall footings to the SW of the church, which have been interpreted as the remains of domestic accommodation for the collegiate. After the Reformation, these buildings served as a mill and brew-house for Seton Palace nearby. Carved stones from Seton Palace are displayed against the E boundary wall.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan to include the remains described above and an area around them 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 above-ground elements of all services and signage, including the visitor services kiosk, railings, toilet block and the lean-to-shelter containing carved stones, as well as the top 200mm of all modern paths, drives and gravelled areas to allow for their maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as one of the finest surviving, upstanding collegiate churches in Scotland, preserving rare evidence of the domestic accommodation for the collegiate. The monument survives in excellent condition. It displays many features characteristic of 15th-century ecclesiastical architecture and is notable for the lack of post-Reformation alterations. As such, it can make a significant contribution to our understanding of medieval ecclesiastical foundations in the Lothians. There is high potential for the survival of buried archaeological remains throughout this site, including structural and architectural remains, as well as further human burials. Study of these remains can provide important information about the development of the site from its origins in the 12th century or earlier, through the changes following its elevation to collegiate status in the later 15th century and subsequently, through to the post-Reformation period, including the domestic and religious life of the Collegiate. The loss of Seton Collegiate Church would significantly diminish our ability to understand the form, character, function and architectural decoration of medieval collegiate churches in the Lothians and their role in wider society.



RCAHMS records Seton Collegiate Church as NT47NW 4.


Baldwin, J 1997, Edinburgh, Lothians and the Borders, Exploring Scotland's Heritage series Edinburgh: Stationery Office, 144-5.

Cruden, S H 1958, 'Seton Collegiate Church', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 89, 417-437.

Fawcett, R 2002, Scottish medieval churches: architecture and furnishings, London: Yale University Press, 17, 42-43, 67, 75, 79, 84, 124, 175.

Hogg, S 2007, 'Seton Collegiate Chapel, watching brief, East Lothian (Tranent parish)', Discovery Excav Scot 8, 77.

Markus, S 2007, 'Seton Collegiate Chapel, Inventory, East Lothian (Tranent parish)', Discovery Excav Scot 8, 77.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Seton Collegiate Church

Find out more

Related Designations

  1. Battle of PrestonpansBTL16

    Designation Type

    Designation Type
    Garden & Designed Landscape

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 (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. 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.

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

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to Seton Collegiate Church

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 29/03/2023 13:51