With the old manse up for sale YHS members have been helping the Kirk Session remove the precious Romanesque sculptured stones from Yetholm's 12th-century church into the safe-keeping of the kirk itself. The stones were discovered when the church was rebuilt in 1837 and placed in the manse garden. Few in number, they nevertheless show that sometime between 1150 and 1200 a relatively substantial building was constructed on the site. Some of the carved stones have been placed in the kirk tower (see below), but three large stone bases have had to be left outside.
On 19th March, just before the 'Beast from the East' snow storm hit Yetholm, James King of the CRSBI (Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture - website HERE) came to examine the surviving material - the photo above shows him looking at the pillar bases (with local acolyte taking notes!). He says the surviving material is probably from a chancel arch and that the bases show the arch would have had a double row of shafts rising to an arch decorated with a chevron design. There may have been an earlier wooden church, but the fragments show that by the second half of the twelfth century someone had invested in the latest state-of-art style of stone building. At that date, of course, Yetholm was relatively close to one of the major town's of early Scotland - Kelso - so perhaps it wasn't in such a remote situation as it is today. Linton, too, clearly had a similar Romanesque church. Neither place would have been able to flourish once the wars with Edward I began and the 12th-century church's subsequent fate is unknown. The engraving showing Yetholm kirk in 1837 shows several medieval windows, but none of them are Romanesque and the grand chancel arch may have disappeared long before. Nevertheless, the surviving stones are witness to the fact that Scotland once had many more stone-built churches in this early period than appears at first sight. James is currently writing up his report on the Yetholm stones and we will let you know when the material is posted online.