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Duddingston Kirk, Duddingston, Midlothian

(55°56′27″N, 3°8′58″W)
NT 283 726
pre-1975 traditional (Scotland) Midlothian
now City of Edinburgh
medieval St. Andrews
now n/a
  • James King
  • Neil Cameron
22 April 2011, 10 May 2011, 1 March 2017

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Duddingston Parish Kirk is located about two miles from the centre of Edinburgh (to which the village now belongs), on the side of Duddingston Loch. The church appears to have originally been built as a two-chambered, aisleless structure, as the W tower and the N aisle were added later. Although there is no document which refers to the building of the church, a date in the 2nd quarter of the 12thc would fit the surviving references, as would the decoration.

In 1598, during a visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, the choir of the church is mentioned as somewhat ruinous. The first documented work on the church comes in 1631, when it was agreed to build an aisle for the owners of the Prestonfield estate. Work was undertaken in 1806, this time on the W tower and N aisle, and about 1835 the church was again enlarged and repaired. Further alterations were carried out in 1889 and in 1968, primarily on the interior.

The Romanesque S nave doorway (now blocked), the chancel arch, the exterior stringcourse and possibly some of the external corbels of the chancel, the external bases and part of a cross survive from the original 12thc building.


Originally called Treverlen, the name Duddingston was being applied to the area by 1159, though the ecclesiastical parish continued to be called Treverlen for awhile afterwards. King David I, along with his son Henry, gave the land of Treverlen, formerly owned by Uviet, to William, abbot of Kelso Abbey sometime between 1138 and 1147. Between 1165 and 1174 the possession of the land was confirmed to Kelso by King William, along with other properties occupied by ‘Dodin’. Later in the same reign, a charter to the canons of Holyrood was witnessed by ‘Hugo filius Dodini de Dodines-tun’. The church was confirmed to the uses of Kelso by Roger, bishop of St Andrews (1188-1200), though it appears to have been a part of the gift of David I from the beginning.

Perpetual vicars are recorded from the early 15th century and this remained the case until the Reformation. After the Reformation, the Ker family came to possess ‘the whole church lands of the Vicarage Church and Parish of Duddingstone’ (Baird (1898), 47).


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses
Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Although several of the corbels appear to be medieval, it is not entirely certain whether these are the original 12thc pieces, as the chancel walls have been considerably reworked, re-using various medieval stones.

The billet label of the chancel arch is similar to other 12thc examples in Scotland, such as at Old Melrose (Scottish Borders) and Preston (Scottish Borders).

The lozenge-decorated shaft on the S doorway is closest in concept to the fragment of one found at Dunfermline Abbey (Fife) and to the designs on the tympanum of the S (blocked) doorway of the nave at Abercorn (W. Lothian). Certainly, the facetted W shaft at Duddingston is very similar to attached facetted shafts found at Dunfermline, with alternating roll and cavetto. The carved figures on the W shaft of the S doorway are unusual and no close parallels in Scotland are to be found. The shaft must, though, have been turned at some point, as not all the figural work is now visible.

The bases with chamfer around the chancel could easily be 12thc, but the upper part with quarter roll is harder to parallel.

Whether the stringcourse on the exterior of the chancel is also 12thc cannot be verified, but the small section that survives on the E exterior wall of the nave seems to confirm that plain, double-chamfered stringcourses were used from the start.


Duddingston Conservation Area Character Appraisal, Edinburgh 2002.

W. Baird, Annals of Duddingston and Portobello, Edinburgh 1898, 47.

Liber S. Marie de Calchou, Registrum Cartarum Abbacie Tironensis de Kelso, ed. by C. Innes, Edinburgh 1866, 196-7, nos. 241-2.

I. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland, Edinburgh 1967, 49.

D. MacGibbon and T. Ross, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, vol. 1, Edinburgh 1896, 333-8.

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

RCAHMS, Inventory of Monuments - Edinburgh, Edinburgh 1951, 66-7.

H. Scott, Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, vol. 8, Edinburgh 1950, 6.

J. Gifford, C. McWilliam and D. Walker, The Buildings of Scotland, Edinburgh, Harmondsworth 1988, 554-5.

L. Toorians, ‘Flemish Settlements in Twelfth-Century Scotland’, Revue Belge de Philologie de d’Histoire, 74/3 (1996), 679.