Scheduled Monument

Torphichen PreceptorySM90305

Status: Designated


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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
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 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.

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