Black and White Sunday: Traces of the Past

The only remains of St Andrew’s Old Kirk in North Berwick is a small white-harled stone building which stands just inland from the path to the Scottish Seabird Centre.

The first church was probably made of wood and was probably constructed by monks from the Abbey at Lindisfarne some time in the 600s. A later building was erected some time in the 1100s, but little of this is left other than low stone walls on the grass to the north of the only part remaining.

The small porch was built after the Reformation and projected south from the end of the south aisle. The entire east end of the church was swept into the sea in a storm in 1656.

The church would have served the local community, and the steady stream of pilgrims passing through North Berwick to catch a ferry to Earlsferry in Fife en route to St Andrews. The town and kirk grew to serve the needs of the pilgrims with a hospice serving as a guesthouse to look after the sick.

In 1590 it was rumoured that 200 witches had danced around Anchor Green whilst listening to a sermon by the devil. The witches were supposedly trying to summon a storm to drown King James VI, but it was only under severe torture that a 16 year old girl confessed. As a result many innocent women were arrested and tortured and some died a witch’s death in front of Edinburgh castle.

The green (which was the old kirkyard) is now empty other than a Celtic cross erected in memory of Catherine Watson who, on 27 July 1889 at the age of 19, saved a drowning boy in North Berwick’s East Bay, but was herself drowned while doing so.

Black and White Sunday: Traces of the Past 

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Heyjude

I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

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