Newburn Old Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 45310 03520, map




This roofless ruin is situated in a graveyard to the north of Drumeldrie, a few hundred yards from the early nineteenth century parish church which replaced it. It was consecrated in 1243. Of the medieval church only the east end remains, although the south door is in the correct position for a pre-Reformation church and may also be early. The rest of the building dates to the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The church is built from sandstone rubble with a whinstone north aisle. It consists of a gabled main cell with a north aisle and burial enclosure, which was probably added in the nineteenth century just before or after the church was abandoned. The building is sunken within a graveyard, the earth of which is built up against the sides of the church.


The church was built from sandstone rubble with a whinstone north aisle. There was  a gabled main cell with a north aisle and burial enclosure, which was probably added in the nineteenth century just before or after the church was abandoned 

The east end is truncated and retains only half of its gable.    It has moulded skewputts.    The face itself retains some traces of a harl. Memorials were mounted on the wall following the abandonment of the church, and underneath these is a thin course of stone which may be decorative or perhaps gives evidence that the wall was raised at some point in the past.    To the north of this is the east wall of the burial enclosure, which is without features save a mounted memorial.    The enclosure is joined to the chancel, but is clearly a nineteenth century addition which may post-date the religious life of the church.    Inside the east elevation  there are traces of a render. The skews have been stabilised with cement.     Memorials have been mounted on the wall.

The south elevation faces the graveyard and looks out towards the sea. There is a considerable depth of earth against the face.   A join is visible in the masonry between the face and the west gable, perhaps suggesting that the church was lengthened at some point. The church was entered through a round headed door with a chamfered arch, towards the west of the face, and further west of this is a small blocked rectangular opening.   To the east is a hole in the fabric, perhaps caused by weathering.   To the east of the doorway are two large blocked square headed openings, probably windows. The profile of the face is stepped inwards between the windows, resulting in a slightly wider east end.   To the east of the windows is a blocked square headed door, a small blocked square window and a large blocked window. A notable feature on the interior of the church is a medieval piscina, at the southeast corner.

The west elevation retains the majority of its gable. It is topped by an eighteenth century balustered bellcote and urn, which is precariously balanced on the wallhead. A course of dressed stonework runs between the skew ends, interrupted by a blocked square headed window.   There is another smaller rectangular opening above this which is also blocked.    On the interior these openings are deeply recessed .   Above the windows is a thin line in the stone which held the rope from the bellcote.

The north elevation is largely covered by the burial aisle and north aisle.   Towards the west gable is a blocked square head door and window and on the other side of the aisle there is evidence that the stonework has been repaired.

The north aisle is an early eighteenth century addition to the church.   It is built from whinstone rubble and is raised above the level of the nave. Entry is through its gable ended north elevation.   The gable is roughly crowstepped and is missing its very top.    The main door into the aisle is round headed with dressed keyblock and voussoirs.

The square sandstone burial enclosure is probably a nineteenth century addition, joined to the church on the north east corner.    It is entered through an opening its west face with imposing piers on either side.    It was never roofed, and was probably added after the church went out of use.

People / Organisations:

Saint SerfDedicatee1243Saint's Day: 1st July. The church was possibly dedicated to St. Serf.
Bishop David de BernhamClergyman1243Consecration and dedication of church.
Pre-reformation Church of ScotlandDenomination1243-1560
Church of ScotlandDenomination1560-1814
Dunfermline AbbeyOwnerB1560See site ID: 2260 for Dunfermline Abbey.


  • Church: Build/construction
    The church was built in sixteenth/seventeenth centuries.
  • Church: Consecration (1243)
    dedicated by Bishop de Bernham.
  • Burial ground: Consecration (1243)
  • Church: Build/construction (1522 to 1539)
    Rebuilt by the Archbishop of St Andrews.
  • Church: Build/construction (1600)
    The belfry was built.
  • Aisle: Build/construction (c170)
  • Burial enclosure: Build/construction (c1814)

Archive References:

Scran - Online databaseReference: 000-000-025-724-CImage: Edwina Proudfoot
CSA: Inventory of Scottish Church Heritage - HardcopyReference: 8137Image copyright: Edwina Proudfoot.
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 8137
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 15512
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 32539
Records of Newburn Kirk Session, Fife - HardcopyReference: GB 227 CH2/278

Bibliographic References:

Buildings of Scotland: FifeGifford, J1988p. 334