Dunino Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 54100 10930, map


KY16 8LU


Dunino Parish Church is situated among open agricultural land on a hill rising to the east of Dunino Burn. It sits in an old graveyard which may be the site of an earlier church, because although the present building dates to the early nineteenth century, the site itself has been a place of worship for perhaps as much as a thousand years.   There is an early stone cross as evidence of this.

Description (exterior)

The church is built from rectangular blocks of sandstone with ashlar dressings; it has a Scottish slate roof and a north porch. On the west gable is a bellcote with gablets on all four sides and a crocketed spirelet. The east gable has a cross finial. 

 The west wall is partially obscured by ivy, which reaches round from the south wall of the church. Centrally placed is a deeply recessed perpendicular style two-light window with stone mullions; it has a hoodmould to throw off rainwater; the window panes are of clear glass and below the window an altar tomb abuts the wall.

An entrance, with a hoodmould like those over the windows is at the east end of the north wall, which has two arched windows of a similar style to that in the west elevation. 

The gable ended north porch was added in 1928.  It is entered from a ramp which leads to an arched doorway. To the west of the porch is the vestry, built in 1997 of polished ashlar stone; on the north side is a stained glass window.  On the interior of the north wall of the porch is a series of masons marks framing the head of the stained glass window, which commemorates Alexander MacDonald, minister of Dunino 1911-1949. The stones may have come from an earlier building, probably the medieval church.

Next to the wall on the north side are steps down to an entrance below the level of the church.  

The south elevation has four recessed two-light pointed arch windows with clear glass, stone mullions and a hood mould over.  

 The graveyard around the church features several stones which are older than the church itself, evidence of a much earlier building. Of particular interest is the gravestone of a  tailor. To the south of the church is a sculptured stone  2'6" in height, 1' 11" wide and 1' 3" thick. It was converted into a sundial in the late seventeenth century. Although moss-grown a cross can be identified on the east and west faces and there is a hollow in the upper surface.

The new graveyard beyond the north wall is still used for interment. 

Description (interior)

The interior of the church has been renovated and all plasterwork has been removed back to the stonework. The walls are of roughly rectangular sandstone, mainly of pale yellow, but including reds and browns natural to the local stone. The dressings around the chancel arch and the windows are of ashlar, in a higher quality pale sandstone. Above is a wooden roof. 

The furnishings are of wood and date to the reorganisation of 1928.The twelve rows of simple wooden pews are set on either side of a central aisle. Several have been removed to make space for a small organ and a reading desk.

The chancel area at the east end is furnished with the communion table, placed below the stained glass window. A low reading desk and tall lectern are in front and to left and right of the table. All are carved with crosses and there is an inscription below the lectern cross.  A wooden pulpit set on a stone foundation stands in the south east corner of the nave.

 The red sandstone, modern font sits on a carved stone plinth in front of the tall west window; carved in to the window sill are the words ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me’. On the front of the font is a war memorial, a sensitive carving, depicting an eagle and commemorating an RAF officer. On the back is a sculpture of foliage, around two bells.

 The windows in the south elevation have sills carved with foliage, as do the other windows in the church. The rich colours of the stained glass (S1,S2,S10) can be seen at the east end. Three, dated 1930 and 1931 were made by a London artist, J Jennings. The east window (S1) depicts St George and St Michael. To the south, S2, depicts Esther and at the north east is S3, depicting Ruth. In addition to these modern features an aumbry, or small cupboard below the Esther window, has survived the rebuilding; a cradle role is on the wall at the west end.






People / Organisations:

CuldeesDenomination10The earliest known associations of this site was with Culdee monks, who may have visited Bell Crags, near the site.
Bishop David de BernhamClergyman1240The site was consecrated in 1240 by Bishop de Bernham. The medieval church appears to have still been standing in 1791, when the First Statistical Account remarks that it was prehaps one of the smallest in the country with an aisle and porch.
Mr James Gillespie GrahamArchitect1826Designed the church, which was orientated west-east.
Peter MacGregor ChalmersArchitect1928The design which formed the basis for the remodelling was based on his design. The church was remodelled under the behest of the minister, who was dissatisfied with the west-east orientation.
Mr Alexander Macdonald B.D.Clergyman1911-1949Responsible for the renovations which took place in 1928.
Waddle and YoungBuilder1928Carried out the renovations in 1928.
Pre-reformation Church of ScotlandDenomination1240-1560
Church of ScotlandDenomination1560-NOW
J. JenningsStained Glass Artist1930-1931Stained glass artist responsible for the windows added to the chancel and the porch following their addition in 1928.
Mr William WilsonStained Glass Artist1952Single-light window


  • Graveyard: Consecration (1240)
    There has been a graveyard on this site since at least the thirteenth century.
  • Sundial: Alteration/conversion (1698)
    The stone was converted into a sundial.
  • Church: Build/construction (1826)
    James Gillespie Graham designed the church.
  • Nave: Build/construction (1826)
    The nave was built.
  • Church: Build/construction (1928)
    Renovations were carried out by Waddle and Young.
  • Nave: Alteration/conversion (1928)
    The church was refurbished and reorganised, with all pews turned to face the east.
  • Porch: Build/construction (1928)
    The porch was added during the renovation of the church.
  • Sanctuary: Build/construction (1929)
    The chancel was added when the church was remodelled and emphasises its orientation towards the east.
  • Sanctuary: Addition (1930 to 1931)
    Addition of stained glass by J. Jennings (St. Michael and St. George in the east, Esther in the south and Ruth in the north).
  • Porch: Alteration/conversion (1930 to 1931)
    The memorial window to Alexander MacDonald was added.
  • Church: Addition (1952)
    Single-light stained glass window added by William Wilson
  • Vestry: Build/construction (1997)
    The vestry was built in 1997.

Archive References:

Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 34486
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 49
Records of Dunino Kirk Session - HardcopyReference: GB 227 CH2/405
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 34444
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 4315
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 1090
CSA: Inventory of Scottish Church Heritage - HardcopyReference: 1090
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 99044

Bibliographic References:

Buildings of Scotland: FifeGifford, J1988p. 198
The Statistical Account of Scotland: Fife 1795Withrington, D.J ; Grant I.R. (eds.)1978(Reprinted 1978 - Regrouped according to county and aranged in alphabetical order) p. 258
Dunino: Place of WorshipMacGlip, D & L2005