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Feature Sets (2)


The parish of Lempitlaw, which was at one time a separate parish, was joined with that of Sprouston at an unknown date. The church is now gone, though indents in the ground within the graveyard show its original location. The last vestiges of the church appear to have disappeared by 1845, but it is recorded that shortly before this some ruins were still to be seen. At that time, the parish of Spouston was the property of the Duke of Roxburgh, but the barony of Lempitlaw was the property of the Duke of Buccleuch. A coped, tegulated grave cover survives in the churchyard near the site of the church.


Lempitlaw is not mentioned in the Inquisitio of the diocese of Glasgow, undertaken sometime between 1115 and 1124, but it was granted, with all its teinds, to the hospital at Soutra between 1221 and 1238 by Richard Germyne. In 1460, along with Soutra, the church was united with Trinity College in Edinburgh. In 1463, Lempitlaw and several other places were made into a free barony in favour of David Scott of Kirkurd.




Coped grave cover

The coped grave cover is not in its original position and has suffered considerable damage in the past. Although now weather worn, as  well, one can see that the two long sides are carved with three rows of rectangular-shaped tiling, with what appears to have been a roll moulding along the top spine. Both ends have missing sections of stone, and the exact nature of their original forms is difficult to determine. One end, however, is wider than the other and the top spine appears to taper towards the narrower end. The lower section of the grave cover is presently below ground.

Length 1.77 m
Width of narrower end 0.29 m
Width of wider end 0.32 m


The 1956 RCAHMS inventory reference to Lempitlaw mentions the coped grave cover, but Laing (1975) says that in 1969 he and J. Ritchie excavated it. Laing's paper considers this type of grave cover a late type of Hogback monument and suggests an early 12thc date for the one at Lempitlaw. There are others of this type in Scotland, as in the nearby one at Ancrum and as far away as the Northern Isles (as for example at Skaill, Orkney). A particularly close comparison may be made with the missing, but photographed, grave cover from Kirknewton (Midlothian, Scotland). Within Northern England there are several as well, including those now in storage at Durham Cathedral. Laing has not considered the possibility that this type of grave cover might equally have evolved from tiled Romanesque grave covers, as at Fordwich (Kent). His suggestion that this specific type occurs primarily in the late-11thc and/or early-12thc is entirely plausable.


  • The Bannatyne Club, Origines Parochiales Scotiae, Vol. 1, Edinburgh 1851, 443-5.

  • I. Cowan, The Medieval Parishes of Scotland, Edinburgh 1967, 129.

  • G. Craig, ‘Parish of Spouston’, The New Statistical Accounts of Scotland: Roxburgh - Peebles - Selkirk, Vol. 3, Edinburgh and London 1845, 237-40.

  • Cruft, K., Dunbar, J. and Fawcett, R., The Buildings of Scotland: Borders, New Haven and London 2006, 494.

  • A. Jeffrey, The History and Antiquities of Roxburghshire, Vol. 3, Edinburgh 1859, 204-5.

  • A. Jeffrey, The History and Antiquities of Roxburghshire, Vol. 4, Edinburgh 1864, 294.

  • J. Laing, 'Hogback Monuments in Scotland', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 105, Edinburgh 1975, 206-35.

  • Royal Commission of Ancient and Historical Monuments Scotland, An Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Roxburghshire, Vol. 2, Edinburgh 1956, 433.

General view


Site Location
National Grid Reference
NT 788 327 
now: Scottish Borders
pre-1975 traditional (Scotland): Roxburghshire
medieval: Glasgow
now: n/a
medieval: unknown
Type of building/monument
Graveyard and site of former church  
Report authors
James King 
Visit Date
16 April 2015