Cross Kirk

(Church of the Holy Cross)

Lying on the north side of Cross Road, in a quiet residential area just to the north of the centre of Peebles in the Scottish Borders, the ruined Cross Kirk represents the remains of a monastic complex dating back to the later 13th Century. An ecclesiastical building was first recorded here in 1296 and the substantial remains of the nave, and five-storey entrance porch and bell-tower to the west, date from that time. The domestic buildings are of a later date and were formed around a cloister on the north side of the church but only their consolidated foundations remain. Also known as the Church of the Holy Cross, a chapel was founded here by King Alexander III (1241-86) following the discovery of a cross on the site in 1261. This was found amongst were said to be the relics of the 4th-C. St. Nicholas of Myra, although these may actually have been a Bronze-Age cist. This cross was thought to represent part of the 'true cross' and was thus venerated as an object of considerable importance. A community of monks was established which grew to become a house of the Trinitarian Order (or Red Friars) in 1474. The Trinitarians were formed at Cerfroy in France in the later 12th C. This monastic function came to an end with the Reformation and the church was given to the parish c.1561, replacing St Andrew's Old Parish Church which had been destroyed by English troops led by the Earl of Hertford in 1548. The Cross Kirk had also been set on fire but appears to have been easier to repair, a task completed before the monks left.

In 1656 the Cross Kirk was shortened to what had been the nave of the Mediaeval church, by which time the other buildings on the site had been quarried for their stone. Around the same time burial aisles were built along the sides of the church for prominent local families, including the Earls of March, Earls of Morton (now used by the Erskines of Venlaw) and the Hays.

The Cross Kirk was abandoned in 1784 when a new parish church was built on Castle Hill at the west end of the High Street. The ruins came into the care of the state in 1925 and are now managed by Historic Environment Scotland. It has been A-listed since 1971.

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