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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian

Revisiting the past

The main work on Whittingehame to 2000 arose from projects carried out by members of the nearby East Linton Local History Society. Whittingehame burial ground was surveyed as part of the Parish of Traprain Graveyards Survey. After the very successful exhibition resulting from the survey of Prestonkirk burial ground, the survey team decided that it should move on to Whittingehame. The team reconvened on 3 July 1999 at Whittingehame church. A plan of the kirkyard was prepared by Evan and Janette Clark, photographic recording was undertaken by Garry Menzies and recording of inscriptions and condition of the stones was carried out by the team. Permission was sought and obtained from Lord Balfour to survey the stones in the Balfour family graveyard. There are additional stones in the old conduit near the Balfour Tower.

By July 2001, all the stones in the various locations (excepting a few problem ones) had been recorded. The possibility of a future exhibition to display the wide range of material produced by the survey team was under discussion (this went ahead in summer 2003).

Whittingehame's location, stretching from the rich farmlands into the rough Lammermuir Hills, has given it a rich history from the first settlers 8-9000 years ago to the present day. Archaeology within the parish over the last 50 years has helped to further knowledge of the past inhabitants in the area. The work carried out falls into three distinct categories: excavation, aerial photography and local involvement in field walking and research.

Excavation took place at Stoneypath Tower between 1993 and 2000, when the 15th century tower of the Lyells of Stoneypath was bought (1999) and restored. Work found that it was an L-plan tower house, which had been subject to a violent explosion at some time, perhaps to reduce the tower to a romantic ruin during 19th century landscaping. In 1987, Kingside Hill stone setting was excavated in an attempt to avoid future damage after it had been buried accidentally by field clearance. It was shown to be a circle of some 30 stones that enclosed a cremation cemetery of Neolithic or early Bronze Age date. Another stone setting at Kingside Burn, some 300 metres south of Nine Stones, was also shown to be another possible cremation cemetery and stone circle.

The number of monuments from the Neolithic and Bronze Age era in this area of the Lammermuirs shows it had great religious significance. In 1986 an investigation at Papple showed no evidence of a convent, though it is clear that the Cistercian nuns of Haddington owned lands in 'Popil'.

During the 1970s and other periods of unusually dry weather, new discoveries from aerial photography added greatly to the number of monuments which lay within Whittingehame parish. Ditches and pits appeared as darker lines in the crops, while walls appeared as parched marks. Most of the monuments discovered dated mainly to the Bronze and Iron ages, though only excavation would confirm this. Settlements were discovered at West Mains, Whitelaw Hill, Lawhead Hill and Kingside (close to the site of the cremation cemetery).

The local history society from East Linton spent time fieldwalking and prospecting the area of old Whittingehame village and the Anglian chapel of St. Oswald at Luggate. Careful fieldwalking of old Whittingehame village has begun to show the true age of this settlement, with pottery being recovered that dates back to the 11th and 12th centuries AD. It is hoped that excavation will show the origins lie even further back, to the Anglian period of the 7th century AD. The existence of a chapel and long cist cemetery at Luggate had been known from 1885, however its position had been lost. A quick fieldwalk in 2000 showed that human bone and the sandstone fragments of the cists were to be found in Kirklands field to the east of the Luggate to Whittingehame road. Luggate Burn itself (built 1838) has been shown to have been built on a previously unknown 18th century farm complex. Some of these 18th century structures survive in the fabric of the schoolrooms and to the north in the outbuildings of the post office and smiddy. It is interesting to note that the hamlet of Luggate Burn was built some 17 years after the demolition of Whittingehame village, which calls into question the long held assertion that Luggate Burn was built to replace the old village and re-house the inhabitants. The fieldwalking of the old village showed that the houses referred to as crumbling hovels by M. Lang in 1929 may have indeed been sturdy stone-built houses with pantiled roofs.

With the increase in the renovation of old houses and a raised awareness of our heritage, it is certain that more will be discovered in the near future, which will enhance the already prominent position that Whittingehame parish has within the history of this area and Scotland.


THIS ACCOUNT OF WHITTINGEHAME PARISH WAS WRITTEN BY IVAN CLARK. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, RESEARCH AND ESSAYS WERE PROVIDED BY THE FOLLOWING:

Survey team

Leader: Chris Tabraham.

Valerie Adam; Audrey and David Affleck; Monica Cameron; Janette and Evan Clark; David and Maggie Connolly; Bill and Maureen Hewgill; Christian and John Lindsay; Garry Menzies; Tom and Marion Middlemas; Ellen and John Reid; Jane and Steve Stevenson; Jean Stevenson; Romaine Strang; Rosemary and Peter Wilkes.

And the recollections of Nessie Gell (home life, school); Ray Halliday (school); Lena and Drew Harrower (general); Mary Stenhouse (Kingside school)

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