Buildings Week 16th – 20th January 2012

Last week was the very successful buildings week where AOC’s Diana Sproat and Gemma Hudson led the team to record three excellent old churches at Kirkmaiden, Sorbie and Cruggleton and some crofting settlements at Torhousemuir.

The week started on Monday and Tuesday with some detailed recording at Kirkmaiden Old Church and Graveyard in Monreith, just down from the golf course. We completed a full graveyard survey, including a detailed measured survey with the total station and individual records and photographs of all the gravestones. We also had a closer look at the church, which originated in the 11th century although the Maxwell family converted the former chancel into a burial aisle in the late 19th century and added a very ostentatious arched and decorated doorway in the south wall complete with typical Romanesque chevron patterns.

Volunteers Kirsty and Chris deciphering one of the gravestones at Kirkmaiden

One of the more interesting gravestones at Kirkmaiden, complete with angel with wings,
hourglass with wings, coffin and skull and crossbones, all within a neatly panelled border

Wednesday saw us visit the mid 18th century Old Sorbie Church in the village of Sorbie, having a closer look at the old features and phasing within the church, identifying the original layout such as beam slots in the walls where the galleries were located and even the remains of an elaborate fireplace and chimney breast in the north wall which would have been a laird’s gallery! The total station was whipped out once again to do an elevation survey of the west and north wall of the kirk and we also undertook a detailed hand-drawn plan of the kirk getting in all the openings, features and phasing of the building, annotating all features of interest as we went. Finally, we undertook a record for the graveyard, which identified a number of interesting stones and dates (too many to do a full individual gravestone survey here!) including some supposedly pre-dating when the church was built. Could this lie on an earlier church site?

George and Gary having a closer look at the phasing on the east wall of the church

Mike and Helen getting to grips with the floor plan

On Thursday we visited another Norman church, Cruggleton, which was rebuilt in the 19th century, although some of the original stone rubble walls were re-used in the build. A detailed written record and sketches were made of the kirk and its surrounding enclosure, including a slightly more detailed context record of each feature within the church to accompany a detailed hand-drawn floor plan of the kirk. The 3D laser scanner was used to undertake a full exterior survey of the kirk (all we had time for in one day!) which will hopefully give us some highly accurate elevations and enticing oblique views and flythroughs.

Setting up the laser scanner to survey the exterior of the church

The (very thin!) elaborate door in the south wall of the church leading to the Chancel

Some tantalising graffiti set high up on the soffit of the chancel arch – who was Mary Rennie?

The final day saw us visit the former crofting settlements at Torhousemuir, many of which now lie as stone rubble heaps in the ground with little more than half-collapsed drystone walling depicting their boundaries. However, we discovered that three of the crofting cottages had survived, which were identified as ‘Hillview’, ‘Windy Gap’ and ‘Mossend’ thanks to the wonderful publication by Joe Whiteford on the living at Mossend in the 1930s and ’40s (thanks also to Jane Murray for providing a copy of the book on the day). Surviving as little more than single-storey linear cottages, the buildings would have once housed large families working the land with outbuildings such as stables, dairy, milk house, creamery, cow byre (usually attached to one end of the house), cart shed and more. The weather was less than clement, which led to some soggy recording sheets, but we managed to get a good sound written and photographic record of the cottages as well as a detailed measured survey of one of the them – Hillview – and all of its surviving outbuildings. A further wander up from Mossend revealed that the Forestry Commission had now enclosed the land to the north.

All that is left of Hillview, now a ruin

There’s not much left now of Windy Gap – Kirsty and Chris (left) brave the
wind and rain to get a written record of what remains of the building completed


A view of all that remains of Mossend – a stone rubble built crofting
cottage with a later brick-built bedroom to the east

All that is left of the cooking range in the east wall of the main living area



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