Aberlady Parish Church-East Lothian, Scotland

Hi friends. What’s new with you? The countdown to our next Scottish adventure is officially ON! The light at the end of a very long tunnel is finally shining through, and the long wait is almost over. I am more excited than I can say. Oh, what wonderful new things I will have to share with you soon!

Today we are going to make a quick stop in the small coastal village of Aberlady, Scotland, to visit Aberlady Parish Church. Aberlady is located about 17 miles to the northeast of Edinburgh in the council area of East Lothian.

Aberlady Parish church and graveyard.
Aberlady Parish Church is part of the Church of Scotland.

In my last blog post, I wrote about Lindisfarne Castle, which sits on the religiously significant Holy Island. By coincidence, today I learned that the community of Aberlady was once on the pilgrim route between the monasteries on Holy Island and the Isle of Iona! In fact, in 1863, a fragment of an ancient Celtic or Anglo-Saxon cross was discovered in a garden area next to the church. The carvings on the cross are similar to the artwork in the Lindisfarne Gospels, which now reside in the British Library in London. How magnificent!

Aberlady has been associated with church history for centuries. According to Aberlady Parish Church, “the earliest place of worship in Aberlady might have been a Culdee chapel, ruins of which were discovered in the northwest corner of the old churchyard…at the time of the Reformation”. The Culdees were members of ascetic Christian monastic and eremitical communities – basically, hermits who lived a lifestyle of complete deprivation.

The history of Aberlady Parish Church dates back to 1452 with the initial construction of the watchtower. The central part of the church and a chancel were added in 1509.

The watch tower at Aberlady Parish Church.

The watchtower, original construction 1542

A reconstruction effort took place in 1773, and the building was altered in design. It became known as the “square kirk.” Of the original 1500s/1600’s structure, only the watchtower, two aisles, and a small portion of a wall remained.

Old Celtic cross gravestones.
Wonderful old gravestones
Celtic cross gravestone.
Worn stone carvings at Aberlady Parish Church.
I would love to know the story of this!

In 1886, the 10th Earl of Wemyss (a heritor, or privileged person in a parish under Scots law) felt the need for the church to be rebuilt in a more attractive design. Again, only the watchtower, the two aisles, and the small portion of the original wall remained. The new church opened for worship in June 1887. It was described as being “one of the finest ecclesiastical buildings in Scotland.”

Aberlady Parish Church and old gravestones.
Plaque on the outside of Aberlady Parish Church.
Upper window and a cross on the roof of Aberlady Parish Church.
Aberlady Parish Church.

In the years following the 1886 reconstruction, very little has changed, and Aberlady continues to be an active church in the community to this day. Aberlady is a cute little community, and it’s worth the quick stop to see this small piece of history.

Well, that’s it for today, guys. Nice and short. I wish each of you a wonderful week. I’ll see you next time!

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