Markle Collegiate Church

Unfortunately, very little is known of Markle Collegiate Church and their is next to nothing in the way of physical remains. The Rosslyn Templars hope, in due due course, to post a few images of the site of the church. What is known of it is briefly detailed below

The Collegiate Church:

There was a chapel at Markle or “Merkill” and dedicated to Saint Mary (Saint Maria de Merkill), the patronage of which was associated in grants with that of the church of Linton or Prestonkirk. Later (1699) it appears as the chapel of St. Mariota.

The church is referred to several documents relating to the Barony of Hailes. In 1515 a reference mentions that the church had a Provost and Prebendaries. The references continue until 1569 – after the Reformation (1559).

The earliest dated ascribed to Markle as a Collegiate Church was is c.1450 but the claim has not been substantiated. If the date is correct it would have been contemporaneous with Rosslyn Chapel. The number of Prebends etc. is unknown.

The Fortified Structure:

This construction stands ¾ of a mile north-west of East Linton station; on the ‘north the railway cuts through the site. On the south-east there is a high rocky bank with level and partially marshy ground at base, which skirts an outcrop of rock lying to its north and west. The outcrop has been sur rounded by a ditch flanked by outer and inner ramparts to form an enclosure of some 850 feet from north-east to south-west by 450 feet from north-west to south-east, which was probably entered from the south-east. The ditch is greatly wasted, and the railway cutting -has destroyed the north and north-eastern portion of the enclosure, but on the north-north-west and west it still has a depth of about 6 feet and a width of 20 feet. Along the parados of the north-north-west portion a stone wall about 3 feet thick can be traced; south of this, within the enclosure, where the rock is naturally terraced, and at a point about midway along the site there is a vaulted structure, oblong on plan with its major axis 80° magnetic, which measures 31¼ feet by 15¼ feet within walls averaging 3 feet 3 inches in thickness. The east gable still stands to its complete height, but the other walls are fragmentary. The gable has been heightened to receive a very acutely pitched roof. The masonry suggests that the structure has either been built out of old material or that it had become so ruinous that a complete reconstruction was necessary. For the most part it is of rubble obtained on the site, but there an admixture of light-coloured freestone on e lower portion of the east gable. At ground level the gable is penetrated by a lintelled doorway of freestone with a splay wrought on jambs. On the inner face towards the south-eastern angle there is a window which has been built up. It has an ecclesiastical appearance and seems to have been a lancet light with a deeply splayed ingoing; the free-stone jamb is splayed like the door. There is no trace of a similar light in the corresponding angle; instead a single corbel projects internally some 5 feet above the entrance, but what purpose it served is obscure. There are two scarcements, one above the doorway and the other above the window. The former suggests that the building was floored at that level while the latter probably received the wall couple of the roof.

The bank against which the structure is built runs north-north-east and south-south-west and appears to have been walled, with circled towers projecting northwards at the north-eastern portion, and to have had cross walls running from it south-eastwards. Between the cross walls are the ruins of a second structure, which was at least three storeys in height, of 16th century date and oblong on plan. It measures 75½ feet from east to west by 41½ feet from north to south. On the east there is a rubble wall about 2 feet 7 inches in thickness by 44 feet in length, mainly built in the local igneous stone but containing a small percentage of freestone; the dressings are of red freestone. At the northern end of this wall there is a stone channel widening internally, which was an inlet for water; adjoining it to the south are the remains of a cupboard recess; the north wall has contained a kitchen fireplace. The upper storey had a wooden floor. A window and a small recess are the only features at this level. The window is lintelled, and the arrises of jambs and lintel are rounded off. The upper portion of the jamb ingoings are grooved, and the lintel and sill are morticed for two vertical iron bars. Fifty feet west is another portion of the building forming three sides of a rectangular tower, circled internally. It has an interior diameter of 14 feet 8 inches and shows signs of rebuilding. An oblong structure projects southwards from the tower; it measures 36 feet by 11 feet within walls from 2½ to 3 feet in thickness. This last may be later than the structures mentioned above.

References to people from Markle are few: Alan of “Merkshulle” was an archer serving “Peter de Lubant” as English commander with other men from East Lothian in Living stone Peel in 1312. “Markle” is in the list of places burnt in 1401 and again in Hertford’s invasion of 1544.

From the above we can see that the pattern of fortified building and nearby place of worship is again repeated as at Rosslyn, Seton etc. Unfortunately in this instance there is little left of the family residence and nothing of the Collegiate Church making comparison with Rosslyn Chapel and Castle impossible. The documentary record does further confirm that this type building pattern was common in the area around Rosslyn Chapel. Markle is 21 miles from Rosslyn Chapel.

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