St Martin's Kirk
Religious Place East Lothian Borders

St Martin's Kirk

Religious Place In East Lothian, Borders

A mid to late 12th century Kirk (Church) in the Romanesque style in Haddington, East Lothian.

In the heart of Haddington, a historic town in East Lothian stands a silent reminder of the past, St Martin's Kirk. Its imposing ruins, weathered by the centuries, stand as a poignant reminder of a bygone era, a time when Haddington was a thriving medieval town and the kirk was its spiritual centre.

Haddington's origins can be traced back to the 12th century when it emerged as a prosperous market town and a significant centre of religious life. The town's prosperity was fuelled by its strategic location on the River Tyne (not that one) and its role as a trading hub.

In the 12th century, King David I of Scotland granted a charter to Haddington, establishing it as a royal burgh. This status granted the town various privileges, including the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair.

Haddington's importance as a religious centre was further solidified with the establishment of several religious institutions, including St Mary's Abbey, a Cistercian nunnery founded in 1131.

St Martin's Kirk, nestled within the eastern edge of Haddington, is believed to have been built in the mid to late 12th century. The kirk's design, characterized by its round-arched windows and simple rectangular form, reflects the Romanesque architectural style prevalent in Scotland during that period.

The kirk's construction is attributed to Alexander de St Martin, a landowner who granted land to the Cistercian nunnery of St Mary's. It is believed that St Martin's Kirk served as a place of worship for the residents of the eastern part of Haddington, while the grander St Mary's Abbey catered to the town's elite.

St Martin's Kirk's history is intertwined with the tumultuous events that shaped Haddington over the centuries. In 1560, the Scottish Reformation swept through the country, leading to the destruction of many religious institutions associated with the Catholic Church. St Martin's Kirk, while not entirely demolished, suffered significant damage, with its chancel being destroyed. One of the leading lights of Scottish Reformation was John Knox, who was actually born in Haddington and is believed to have worshipped at St Martin's Kirk when young.

Despite these setbacks, St Martin's Kirk continued to serve as a place of worship for the Protestant population of Haddington until the late 18th century. The kirk's congregation eventually merged with another church in the town, and St Martin's fell into disuse.

In 1912, St Martin's Kirk was designated as a Scheduled Monument, recognizing its historical significance. The site is now under the care of Historic Environment Scotland, which has undertaken restoration efforts to preserve the kirk's ruins.

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How To Find St Martin's Kirk

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55.956083, -2.76881

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55.956002, 55.956002

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There is on street parking adjacent to the Kirk.

Contributed by Andrew Gardner

I love being outdoors, in nature, and experiencing the relaxation it brings. Wandering through the northern countryside seeing unexpected buildings, historic places and occasionally surprised wildlife is one of life's great pleasures.

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Andrew Gardner

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St Martin's Kirk was listed in Religious Place // Borders // East Lothian