Behind the Ivy: Kirkton Old Church, Burntisland, Fife
Set back from the roadside to the north of the town of Burntisland on the coast of Fife lies a hidden away 12th/13th century kirk – now a ruin – sitting peacefully in its own churchyard having seen a thousand years of history unfold around it. Abandoned in the late 16th/early 17th century, it has remained a ruin ever since, with only one wall of the Nave surviving, and the four walls of the Chancel still intact (albeit roofless) due to the Ayton family re-using the kirk as a burial aisle. As with many such ruins, ivy had clearly taken its hold on the structure and threatened to cause more damage to its structural integrity. The Kirkton Steering Group which includes Fife Council working with the Burntisland Heritage Trust, therefore stepped in and were awarded £90,500 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to record, conserve and consolidate the church. As part of the initial phase of works, AOC Archaeology Group was commissioned to undertake a detailed measured survey and historic building survey of the building both prior to and after the ivy removal, which has now been undertaken.
Image above right: Kirkton Old Church, South Elevation of the Chancel after the removal of the ivy
Kirkton Old Church, 2D elevation of the West Elevation of the Chancel and Cell building (formally a vestry)
Plans to consolidate the stonework are now underway under the supervision of architect Stephen Newsom.
This survey has significantly furthered the understanding of Kirkton Old Church through detailed measured survey and on-site record and analysis, as well as some preliminary historical research. Surviving 12th/13th century churches are few in number and, as it is one that was abandoned early, shows very few major alterations to its layout after the 17th century apart from those blockings associated with the burial aisles.
An orthographic image of the kirk after the removal of the ivy taken from the laser scanner data
For more information about the history of the church, please contact Douglas Speirs at Douglas.Speirs@fife.gov.uk. For more information on the project, please contact Fiona Fisher at Fiona.Fisher@fife.gov.uk. A copy of AOC’s final report can be viewed at the National Monuments Record for Scotland.