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Kirk of Calder, Mid Calder, Midlothian, (see also: Edinburgh, National Museum of Scotland)

(55°53′23″N, 3°29′1″W)
Mid Calder
NT 073 673
pre-1975 traditional (Scotland) Midlothian
now West Lothian
medieval St. Andrews
now n/a
medieval unknown
  • James King
19 Aug 2012

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Feature Sets

The Romanesque church no longer survives. Of the 16thc church built on the site only the choir and vestry were constructed. A nave had been planned but it was never started. Transepts were finally added in 1863. Built into the W interior wall of the vestry is the head of a cross, formed by interlace. There is another, of nearly identical size and shape, also from Mid Calder, now in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.


In the first half of the 12thc, the Earl of Fife held the patronage. The parish became known as ‘Calder-Comitis’ (Calder of the Earl) to distinguish it from the parish of East Calder, called ‘Calder-Clere’. Sometime before 1161 (perhaps c.1159), the church had been gifted by Earl Duncan of Fife to the monks of Dunfermline. A record of a dedication occurs in 1241/1242. The church was rebuilt in the 2nd quarter of the 16thc, money being supplied by Peter Sandilands.


Loose Sculpture


The cross heads from Mid Calder are of a type that seems specifically Romanesque (or at least no earlier than) with interlace that creates a cross pattern, the pointed ends of which are carved proud of the enclosing circle. There are closely related examples elsewhere, such as Kirkwall, Orkney (now in the Tankerness Museum) and Santiago de Compostela, Spain (now in the Popo Galego Museum). A church at Mid Calder existed certainly by 1158, but a more exact date for its construction cannot be ascertained. It seems not at all unlikely that the cross heads are of similar date. It is possible they were used as grave markers, but it is equally possible, and perhaps more likely since they are identical, that they were used as finials at the top of the E and W gable ends of the church.


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

A. Lawrie, Early Scottish Charters Prior to A.D. 1153, Glasgow 1905, no. CCXXVIII, 428-29.

D. MacGibbon and T. Ross, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, 3, Edinburgh 1897, 279-87.

H. McCall, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Mid Calder, Edinburgh 1894, 12-13, 195-216.

C. McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland, Lothian, Harmondsworth 1978, 322-23.

J. Murray, Ancient Church Documents in Scotland, 2, Edinburgh 1914, 254.

RCAHMS, Inventory of Monuments - Midlothian and West Lothian, Edinburgh 1929, 135-38.

Registrum de Dunfermelyn, The Bannatyne Club, Edinburgh 1842, 55 no.91, 89 no.153.

A. Reid, ‘Notes on the Churchyards of Currie, Kirknewton, and the Calders’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 40 (1906), 239.

The Scots Peerage, 4, ed. J. Paul, Edinburgh 1907, 5-7.