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National Museum of Scotland (Kirknewton voussoir), Edinburgh, Midlothian (see also: Old Parish Church, Kirknewton)

(55°56′45″N, 3°11′28″W)
NT 257 732
pre-1975 traditional (Scotland) Midlothian
now City of Edinburgh
  • James King
  • Neil Cameron
7 Feb 2012

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Feature Sets

The church at Kirknewton was united with that of East Calder in 1750 and a new church built elsewhere. In about 1780, the majority of the old church appears to have been taken down. The following year, a voussoir with chevron and erotic figures was given to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.


See: Kirknewton, Church


Loose Sculpture


There are no early records of the church and the voussoir is of a very unusual form, with no direct parallel found elsewhere in Scotland. The use of a fairly sophisticated chevron makes it unlikely that the voussoir dates from before the 2nd quarter of the 12thc, with a later date entirely possible.


Catalogue of Antiquities in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh 1876, 121 no. 76.

National Museum of Scotland, Angels, Nobles and Unicorns, exhib. cat., Edinburgh 1982, 16 no. B13.

R. Rhodes, ‘Decoding the Sheela-na-gig’, Feminist Formations 22 no. 2 (Summer 2010), 167-94.