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Ormiston, East Lothian

(55°53′49″N, 2°56′36″W)
NT 411 675
pre-1975 traditional (Scotland) East Lothian
now East Lothian
medieval St. Andrews
now n/a
medieval St Giles
  • James King
29 Oct 2013, 03 July 2016

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A report in 1627 describes the church as owned by the laird of Ormiston. In 1642, another report suggested that the parish be united with that at Pencaitland. Although the old church appears to have still been in use in 1649, the church was described as ruinous in 1695, and it was decided that a new church should be built at some convenient place in the parish. By November 1696, the new church was complete enough to have the first sermon preached within it. The main part of the old church appears to have been demolished in 1730. Thereafter, the old church served as a burial enclosure. In the 19thc, a roof was built over the E end, but was subsequently removed. It now lies open to the elements.


In the early 13thc, the church of St Giles of Ormiston was conferred on the church and hospital of Soutra. It was confirmed by William Malveisin, bishop of St Andrews, sometime between 1211 and 1226. The barony of Ormiston passed to the Cockburns (vassal lords of the Dunbars who had previously owned Ormiston) in the mid-14thc. In 1462, the church was again transferred, this time to Trinity College, Edinburgh. The union with Holy Trinity College continued until the Reformation.


Interior Features

Interior Decoration

Loose Sculpture


The site of the church ruins is not in present-day Ormiston village which was begun in 1735, but is located near Ormiston Hall, about one and a half miles south of Ormiston Village. The ruins of St Giles’ Church are presently used as a kind of garden feature. The small fragment with scalloped capital may possibly have been used originally as a piscina or stoop, but not enough of the stone survives to be certain. The west wall of the chancel has certainly been rebuilt and incorporates a wide doorway instead of an arch. Re-used in this wall are surviving Romanesque stones. Whether any part of the S wall of the nave is original is more difficult to determine. The two sections of stringcourse show no significant signs of having having been moved, but to the east of these is a large pointed opening, the purpose of which is not entirely clear. It may well be that a room was added to this side of the nave, in which case the section west of this may be original. Reference to chevron carved on at least one stone has been made, but this was not confirmed on site.


R. Fawcett, J. Luxford, R. Oram and T. Turpie, Corpus of Scottish Parish Churches (http://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/corpusofscottishchurches).

D. MacGibbon and R. Ross, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, Vol. 3, Edinburgh 1897, 596-99.

C. McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland: Lothian, Harmondsworth 1978, 373.

Royal Commission of Ancient and Historical Monuments Scotland, Inventory of Monuments - East Lothian, Edinburgh 1924, 80.