Edinburgh, National Museum of Scotland, Herdmanston Stoup

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Feature Sets (2)


Until the mid-20thc., the stoup was found placed against the N wall of the only surviving section of a chapel built in the 13thc. for the Sinclair family. There is no record known of how and when the stoup made its way into this building. In the mid-1950s, the stoup was given to the National Museum of Scotland, where it remains.


Loose Sculpture


The stoup, carved from a single block of stone, is damaged, but the original features can still be observed.  The basic form consists of an upper section with four attached double-scallop capitals with plain shields, above which is a simple impost band with quirk. The top face of the stone block has a bowl area carved out, without decoration or drain. Between the plain cones of the capital are smaller wedge shapes. All of the capitals are carved with simple roll neckings and sit on attached shafts. Each colonette surmounts a semi-bulbous base with a plain upper roll torus, the entire base being wider than the top of the stoup. The back of the stone is uncarved, which suggests the stoup was always placed against/or was engaged in something like a wall. 


Depth (at base) 0.43 m
Height 0.95 m
Width 0.50 m


There is nothing surviving to suggest an ecclesiastical building on the site of the Herdmanston Chapel before the 13thc. This suggests the stoup came from another building, but there is nothing to help determine where that was. Stylisically, the stoup, itself, is likely to date from either the 2nd or 3rd quarters of the 12thc., but the carved areas are too common in form to determine a more specific date.


  • R. Fawcett, Scottish Medieval Churches (Stroud, 2002), 276-7.

  • D. MacGibbon and T. Ross, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, I (Edinburgh, 1896), 385-7.

  • C. McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland: Lothian (Harmondsworth, 1978), 201.

  • Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 89 (Session 1955-56) (Edinburgh 1958), 460 no. 29.

  • Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 21 (Session 1886-87) (Edinburgh 1887), 377 and 380-81.

  • RCAHMS, Inventory of Monuments in East Lothian (Edinburgh 1924) 106-7.


Site Location
Edinburgh, National Museum of Scotland, Herdmanston Stoup
National Grid Reference
NT 257 732 
now: City of Edinburgh
pre-1975 traditional (Scotland): Midlothian
Type of building/monument
Report authors
James King 
Visit Date
7 February 2012