Buittle Old Kirk

Parish Buittle Location Ordnance Survey Grid Ref: NX 8078 5983

Buittle Old Kirk 2015

Buittle Old Kirk July 2015

HES Record Click here for detail on Canmore


The ruins of this church are situated on high ground close to its successor, Buittle Parish Church (now also redundant). The location is about 2.5 miles south-west of Dalbeattie. The ruins comprise a building oblong on plan, consisting of a nave and chancel measuring 14.41m by 4.95m and 8,71m by 5.83m respectively, within walls averaging 1m in thickness.

Buittle Old Kirk was founded by Devorguilla Balliol during the 13th Century, when the Nave was constructed. It was not until the mid 14th Century that the Choir was constructed by Devorguillas son, King Edward Balliol – the 18th October 1347 to be exact, when it is record that a great gathering took place at the church to dedicate the new chancel and pass the church to the monks at Sweatheart Abbey. Buittle Old was dedicated to St. Colman.

Like most churches of the period, the nave has undergone frequent repair over the years. The west gable contains a round-headed doorway and window which may have been reconstructed at a later period. In later years the parish records show the church being used with a leaking roof, and the parishioners complaining of drafts during services. The west gable of the nave in the old kirk was rebuilt in 1743/5.  The two blocked doors in the north wall may be original. In the south wall a blocked door to the east and a window to the west may possibly be 16th century additions.  In the Choir, medieval features include a door the the north wall, along with a window to the east and the great lancet windows in the east gable. It is recorded that the south wall was rebuilt in the 1740’s and the door in the east gable was inserted between 1743 & 1745.  The door in the south wall is dated to 1743 along with the rectangular window to it’s west. The RCAHMS Inventory of Kirkcudbright published in 1914 believed that the arch between the nave and the choir is original though may have been reused when the choir was built.

An unusual feature in connection with the plan is the greater width of the chancel as compared with that of the nave, which gives ground for the suggestion that the former has been added at a later period. The east wall is pierced by three lancet windows, the arch-heads being pointed to the exterior and segmental to the interior.

Looking from Nave into the Chancel at Buittle to the Lancet Windows – 1914

In relatively recent times a square-headed doorway has been formed below the lancet windows, probably during the 18th century. On the exterior of the south wall there is a small doorway, now built up, with a semicircular arch-head, while in the north wall there is a corresponding doorway, also built up, with a pointed arch-head. The side walls have each a narrow window with roughly constructed round arch-heads. The chancel arch is evidently contemporary with the rest of the chancel. It consists of a single pointed arch with chamfered mouldings springing from shafts of pointed section with moulded caps and base the whole being characteristic of the first half of the 14th century.

Plan of Buittle Old Kirk – 1914






Presuming that this is the church of St Colmanel, which seems probable, the earliest reference to it is contained in a Charter of 1381 by Bishop Thomas of Galloway bestowing it on the monks of Sweetheart Abbey. Project note – This charter probably is confirming the original grant witnessed in 1347 when the large gathering occurred.)

Update 2013

The old Kirk of Buittle remains largely as described, though vegetation is beginning to take hold on the stonework again.  Also of concern is the status of the 19th Century Parish Church which is now redundant and up for sale by the Church of Scotland.

Update 2015

Not much has happened at Buittle Old in the 2 years since our last visit,   Vegetation has well and truly taken hold again, as can be seen in the 2015 images below.   The successor Kirk, has now been sold, and a Planning Application has been submitted to convert the church into a house.  hopefully if approved, the conversion will not stop access to Buittle Old Kirk.





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2015 Photographic Survey

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