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Old Pentland Churchyard

September 2009

Carried out on behalf of Damhead Community Council by





T : 01620 861643


Table of Contents













5.1 5.2 5.3

Fieldwork The Trenches Artefacts

7 7 8





Figure 1: Location plan. Figure 2: Site Plan with trench locations. Figure 3: Geophysics Results. Figure 4: Trench Plans Figure 5: Interpretation of excavation and Geophysical plot, with reconstruction. Appendix 1: Context List Appendix 2: Photo List Appendix 3: Artefact List Appendix 4: Trench List References

Old Pentland Churchyard, Midlothian

North Sea

Inverness Aberdeen


100 km



Old Pentland Church



Figure 1:

Location Plan

Old Pentland Churchyard, Midlothian

February 2009 Geophysics

Trench 2 Trench 1


September 2009 Geophysics




Figure 2:

Site Plan

Old Pentland Church, Damhead, Midlothian

1.0 1.1

SUMMARY An archaeological investigation consisting of geophysics and a two small evaluation trenches was undertaken at the request of the Pentland Conservation Group and with the kind permission of the Gibsone Trust, at Old Pentland Churchyard, Damhead, Midlothian. The site is located within the graveyard set back from the road that passes through Damhead The work consisted of two days of Geophysics and follow-up excavation over the area of a strong signal that seemed to represent a wall or foundations. The purpose was to locate any trace of the church which would once have stood in the graveyard but has since been demolished at some point in the late 18th or early 19th century. The work was purely exploratory and would provide information for any further investigations. Special care was taken to ensure that human remains would not be disturbed. The work was undertaken on the 8th August and 12th September, and was restricted to non intrusive geophysical survey across the graveyard and two targeted test trenches directly over features that were interpreted as solid stone features. Special care was taken to avoid known graves and also to keep within the areas of probable walling / foundations to ensure the potential that human remains were disturbed was at a minimum. The work enabled the further interpretation of the site, and will allow any future work to confidently excavate the church footprint with a clear plan of the structure and the type and depth of deposits found. Excavation was restricted to examining the upper levels of archaeological deposits, and once uncovered and identified, no further intrusive work was carried out. Further work suggested is that the geophysical feature showing to the south of the now identified church structure is investigated with a single test trench. Extending the evaluation trench across the ‘known’ church to confirm the width and the exact shape of the apse, and to investigate traces of floor level (perhaps as a mortar line on the internal wall-face) without excavating beyond this level. Due to the nature of the area it is imperative that no burials are disturbed – therefore care must be taken to follow walllines where there is no possibility of burial.




2.0 2.1

INTRODUCTION Site location The site is located to the north of Pentland Road NT 26240 66331 (Fig. 1) and slightly to the northeast of Pentland Midlothian. The topographic location is on a small knoll that drops sraply to the north, east and west. To a surrounding landscape of farmland.

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Old Pentland Churchyard, Midlothian

February 2009 Resistivity plot

Document: Old_Pentland_2View2 Grid Width: 80 (20m) Grid Height: 160 (40m) Orig Sample Size: 1.00 x 1.00m New Sample Size: 0.25 x 0.25m Resistivity Plot by the Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society Structure investigated by trenching Possible secondary structure

September 2009 Resistivity plot
0 20m

Figure 3:

Geophysics Results

Old Pentland Church, Damhead, Midlothian


Site History Old Pentland Cemetery is a cemetery in Old Pentland, near Loanhead in Midlothian, Scotland. A category B listed building, the cemetery dates back to the early 17th century. The cemetery contains the remains of members of the Covenanter movement and may also have been scene to tending of wounded covenanters after the Battle of Rullion Green in 1666. The Gibsone burial vault was built in 1839 to designs by the architect Thomas Hamilton, and there is an 18th-century watch house, used to guard against body snatchers. Within this structure are, (if you look through the window) two stones believed to be from the 13th /14th century. Originally discovered by Thomas Arnold buried underneath the turf in 1856 they were later rediscovered recycled as cope stones in the perimeter wall to the left of the watch house. One other stone has been removed to Rosslyn Chapel for safe keeping and can be seen in the vault there – The King of Terrors The burial ground surrounds the site of Pentland parish church, which was established in the 13th century, and this burial ground was still in use in 1907, although the parish had been joined with Lasswade in the 17th century. Pentland chapel is noted as a free parsonage in Bagimond; it was erected into a parish church before 1275, and the parish was united with Lasswade in 1647. The following extract is from Fasti ecclesiae Scoticanae:
[In 1583 the Synod of Lothian remitted to the General Assembly that means be taken for establishing a minister here. The parish was united to Lasswade in 1647, there not being sufficient competence for a minister.] 1570 JOHN BROWN, reader.-[Reg. of Min.] 1574 WILLIAM BARBOUR, having also in charge Penicuik and Mount-Lothian. He removed to Penicuik in 1576. He held the prebend of Lochstarik, named Bwitsextus; vacant by his death before 25th May 1584.-[Req. Assig., Wodrow Miscell.] 1576 JOHN BROWN, reader. 1586 JOHN BARBOUR, probably brother of William B. above mentioned; reader at Mount-Lothian 1576-80; then here 1586. He was pres. to the vicarage of Temple 2nd Jan. 1577, and to Newton; coll. 8th Aug. 1587. Being" convict of riot in the kirk, and sclander," two of the brethren were, 22nd Aug, 1616, "appointit to see his desk removit, by the authority of Gilbert Hay of Monktoun, bailie of the bounds," who on 29th "reportit, that they had acquaintit the aforesaid, quha promisit that in all tyme coming they sould be cummerless " [of John Barbour].-[Reg. Assig., Wodrow Miscell.; New Stat. Acc,, i.]

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Old Pentland Churchyard, Midlothian

T1 T2


projected wall line



Trench 1
pro ject ed


l lin


Trench 2
0 1m


Figure 4: Trench Plans

Old Pentland Church, Damhead, Midlothian

The Covenanters

Helen Alexander was born in sight of Old Pentland Graveyard in the mid17th century into a Covenanting family. She grew up into what historians describe as the ‘Killing Times ‘the period following the re-establishment of Episcopacy by Charles 11, when Covenanters who refused to attend Episcopalian parish churches were ruthlessly punished. After the death of her first husband Helen was married to James Currie, by James Renwick, who was the last martyr to the the Cause. He was executed for his Covenanting beliefs at the age of 26 , Helen’s life was spent in the dangerous struggle to achieve freedom of worship. She was imprisoned by Sir Alexander Gibsone but he may have privately shared her convictions and secured her freedom despite her intransigence which would have cost her her life. The Conventicles were guarded by armed men led by Richard Cameron, They became known as the Cameronians, a regiment of the British Army for three cent.. They were the only regiment of the British army who attended church parade bearing arms, a tradition dating back to when they guarded the Covenanters worshiping at Conventicles. These were clandestine religious services held in secret locations often on remote hillsides and perhaps even in this graveyard. The Battle of Rullion Green took place on the 28th November 1666 between around 900 Covenanters under the command of Colonel James Wallace and 3000 Royal Troops under Lieutenant General Tam Dalziel of the Binns. Pursued by Dalziel, the Covenanters marched via Swanston and the line of the Biggar Road to Rullion Green beyond Flotterson. Confused ,untrained and exhausted, the Covenanters were defeated on the field and fled in panic. Most of the Covenanting army were killed. There is a monument to the dead on the site of the battle but it is believed that many were buried in Old Pentland graveyard though it is more likely this relates to the graves of and the association with Helen Currie (though her headstone now resides in the Huntly House Museum in Edinburgh A study of maps of the area, including William Roy (1755), John Laurie (1763) and the 1850-52 ORDNANCE SURVEY - Six-inch 1st edition maps of Scotland – though none of these show a church clearly at this location, and the 1852 OS 1st Edition shows that the church is no longer present by this time. Only Adairs map of 1680 shows a church at this site marked Pentland.

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Old Pentland Church, Damhead, Midlothian

3.0 3.1

OBJECTIVES To confirm the presence of a structure within the burial ground that could be identified as a church or chapel To provide dating evidence for construction of the structure. METHODOLOGY A process of resistivity Grid Width: 80 (20m) Grid Height: 160 (40m) Orig Sample Size: 1.00 x 1.00m and a further examination at 0.25 x 0.25m was carried out by Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society (fig 2, 3 & 5) Small 2x1m evaluation trenches were carefully located directly over the wall feature and within the interior where no graves would be disturbed, all work was carried out by hand and the excavation stopped on the buried groundsurface in order to ensure to burials would be disturbed. Plans were drawn of the trenches after cleaning, and photographs taken with a digital SLR at 9Megapixel resolution. Finds have been labelled appropriately and the assemblage will be reported to the Treasure Trove Unit on competition of the investigation.

3.2 4.0 4.1




5.0 5.1

RESULTS Fieldwork The work was undertaken overtwo days on the 8th August and 12th September 2009 in bright sunshine and good conditions. The turf topsoil was regular across the site ranging from 80mm to 90mm in depth and a buried groundsurface was located at c. 90-120mm beneath the surface. The various datasets from the investigation are presented in the appendix section; Context list (Appendix 1 ) Photographic list (Appendix 2), Finds register (Appendix 3), Trench Register (Appendix 4)

5.2 5.2.1

The Trenches (Fig. 2 & 4) Trench 1 contained a spread of rubble [1002] that reconciled itself into a borad (c. 90cm wide) bank of loose stones that contained mortar and other building material that suggested demolition debris. This lay directly onto a ground surface [1005] which was taken to be the level of the graveyard prior to demolition of the church. This overlay the well dressed masonry of a wall [1004] running east west which curved slightly to the south as it extends to the east. A chamfered plinth was recognised that may extend down, however this was not investigated further in order to minimise disturbance. The are to the east had been disturbed by a robber trench [1007] that showed evidence that the masonry wall had been removed at this point and had been backfilled

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Old Pentland Church, Damhead, Midlothian

with loose rubble core material and mortar [1006]. No further excavation was carried out, other than to extend the trench to the southwest to confirm the wall line. 5.2.2 Trench 2 was located within the ‘apse’ of the structure, and immediately after the removal of topsoil [2001], the stony surface [2002] was located at a depth of c. 120mm. This overlay a large rubble layer, which initial probing showed to extend to a depth in excess of 1.5metres. It was felt unwise to continue, given the uncertainty of this deposit, whether it was infill or natural material. Roofing material was recovered from [2002] which suggests that this was directly above what must once have been the slab floor, and therefore rubble [2003] could be construed as natural. Artefacts Although few artefacts were recovered, the material does point conclusively to a mediaeval foundation, with Scottish redware greenglaze founding both trenches, and most importantly within the probable demolition debris 1002 and 2003. the date range is 12th-15th century, however, on completion of the final stage of works, the assemblage will be examined by George Haggarty, and the material will be available for study within the Scottish Redware Project after allocation. The stone roofing material is of a micaeous schist and the perforated pieces clearly indicate the roof construction for the church, adding to the picture of the missing structure. Bottleglass was recovered as well as a clay pipe stem, however, this does seem to indicate use of the area after the church has long gone, ands the area is used for other purposes.

5.3 5.3.1

One of 5 perforated stone roofing tiles –from contexts 1002 and 2003

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Old Pentland Church, Damhead, Midlothian


CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The programme of evaluation has shown that in the areas of investigation there are the clear remains of the church of old Pentland, and give some idea as the extant of the structure and preservation. There is still a question regarding the width and nature of the apse end and whether there is another earlier structure on the site to the south. It is clear we have uncovered an important clue to Midlothian’s early mediaeval past and it’s associations with religious institutions and knights. The graveyard contains a fascinating story and it is possible to complete the understanding of this site and place the Arnold stones into a physical context as well as provide a detailed plan of the surviving remains in order to inform any further works. It is not suggested that a full excavation is carried out given the nature of the site and the potential problems with later graves, however, this targeted careful examination of the structure of the church, will allow a fuller interpretation of the monument without disturbing the in-situ deposits.

Greenglaze Redware – from context 1002 – poss 15th century date Based on the currently located architectural fragments, geophysical plan layout and the general form of this church type it is possible to create a tentative reconstruction of the church shown in Figure 5. This is based on a small chapel with apse end which would have been built by a knight in the 12th century and then evolved into a parish church before demolition in the late 18th or early 19th century. The potential for study cannot be underestimated, with a number of similar structures available for study within the region. Our thanks extend to the Gibsone family for their kind permission to investigate the architecture of this lost church.

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Old Pentland Churchyard, Midlothian



Tr 1


possible wall lines

Figure 5:

Interpretation of excavation and Geophysical plot, with reconstruction

Old Pentland Church, Damhead, Midlothian

Appendix 1 Context Register

Context List
Context 1001 1002 1003 1004 1005 1006 1007

Description Topsoil Mix of sub angular stone fragments. Sandstone rubble forming linear bank Dressed and Chamfered masonry wall with mortar and rubble core Mid brown silty clay with some mortar inclusions (buried ground surface) Small to medium angular masonry in dark brown silty matrix, backfill of [1007] Linear cut from extant wall [1004] stretching to east, as a robber cut. Vertical sides, not bottomed

2001 2002 2003

Sub angular sandstone fragments with roofing material

Rounded and sub angular boulders large to medium size (uncertain whether this is natural.

Appendix 2 Photo Register (Digital)

Photo Record List
Photo ID

Direction Site Description from Code N DSCF4264 OP_09 Record shot of Trench 1 – pre-excavation N DSCF4265 OP_09 Record shot of Trench 1 – deturfing E DSCF4266 OP_09 Trench 1 – showing 1002 E DSCF4267 OP_09 Record shot of Trench 2 – after topsoil strip E DSCF4268 OP_09 Trench 1 – showing rubble 1002 exposed E DSCF4269 OP_09 Trench 2 – showing rubble spread 2002 DSCF4270 OP_09 Trench 1 – rubble 1002 removed onto ground E surface 1005 and first sign of wall 1003 to left OP_09 Trench 1 – Wall 1003 prior to extension to S DSCF4271 southwest – note robber fill 1007 in cut 1004 to right. Displaced plinth stone is visible with chamfer. Vertical DSCF4272 OP_09 Trench 1 – Wall 1003 showing curve to east Vertical DSCF4273 OP_09 Trench 1 – Wall 1003 showing curve to east Vertical DSCF4274 OP_09 Trench 1 – Wall 1003 showing curve to east DSCF4275 OP_09 Team Photo – EAFS and CHC DSCF4276 OP_09 Team photo – EAFS and CHC


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Appendix 3 Artefact List

Artefact Record List
Trench Context Description 1 1002 1 clay pipe stem frag



1006 1006

1 Green glaze body sherd ( redware)

1 stone roofing material - perforated

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Old Pentland Church, Damhead, Midlothian

Artefact Record List
Trench Context Description

2 2 2 2 2 2 2

2002 2002 2002 2002 2002 2003 2003

3 fragments worked masonry

3 oyster shells

2 stone roofing material - perforated

6 fragments of roofing material

2 glass shards (bottle)

1 shard glass (bottle)

2 Green glaze body sherd (one redware)

Appendix 4 Trench List

Trench List
Trench Description North - South Orientation (2m x 1m with 2m x 1m extension to southwest corner) Final depth: 1 .4m East - West Orientation (2m x 1m) Final depth: .3m 2

Aitchison, C (1892) Lasswade and Loanhead in the olden time, Arnold, T (1880) 'Note on two sculptured sepulchral slabs in Old Pentland Churchyard', Cowan, I B (1967) The parishes of medieval Scotland, Edinburgh. Held at RCAHMS: C.3.2.COW Reid, A (1907) 'The churchyard memorials of Lasswade and Pentland', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland: 81–99. Scott, H et al (eds.) (1915-61) Fasti ecclesiae Scoticanae: the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation, Edinburgh. Held at RCAHMS: C.3.2.FES

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Old Pentland Churchyard, Midlothian

Old Pentland Church, Damhead, Midlothian




Old Pentland Kirk






David Connolly


(Connolly Heritage Consultancy) Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society.


Geophysics and Test Trenches


NT26NE 14.00
12th Century – 18th century – Burial Ground and Church



Foundations of apse end, with chamfered course

NGR (2 letters, 8 or 10 figures)

NT 26240 66331
12th September 2009

START DATE (this season)

END DATE (this season)

12th September 2009

PREVIOUS WORK (incl. DES ref.)

MAIN (NARRATIVE) DESCRIPTION: (May include information from other fields)

Following a geophysical survey of an area within the Burial ground directly to the east of the Gibsone Mausoleum the distinct features of buried walls were observed. Using targeted trenches (2x 2m by 1m in size) the results were investigated, and proved fruitful in showing extant foundations and the chamfered course level. 14th-16th century green glaze pottery was recovered, and evidence for wall robbing, which may have taken place in the 18th century, based on later finds. No human remains were uncovered. Within the church, no trace of a floor was uncovered, but rubble was extensive and this may yet be investigated further. During geophysics to the south should a distinct outline of a possible second structure – which may represent an earlier structure. Further work will investigate this structure and expose the apse end of the church to confirm the curved wall.


Trial trenches over second possible structure and confirmation of interior floor level of original church




Connolly Heritage Consultancy



Connolly Heritage Consultancy Traprain House Luggate Burn Whittingehame East Lothian EH41 4QA


ARCHIVE (intended/deposited)


RCAHMS , Connolly Heritage Consultancy

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