Way back in 1124 the existing church building at Duddingston was demolished and a new one built. We know nothing of the previous building. It probably had a thatch roof and would have been long and narrow in shape. The new building was constructed using all the modern building techniques of the day. For example part of the original roof timbers, which still exist, came from Sweden. An order would have been placed at Leith docks and a ship sent off to bring back the building materials from Sweden – a kind of medieval Ikea! No metal nails were used – only wooden pegs.
The original masons left their marks on the stone walls. These marks were used as an accounting system to pay the mason for the wall he had built. A grand medieval archway adorned the inside of the building separating the nave from the holiest part of the building containing the altar. And on the outside south façade we still see the 12th century main entrance with is carved column – unique in Scotland and seen recently on BBC 1’s Songs of Praise.*
Over the years the building has been added to and bits have been demolished, particularly during the Reformation when some items of art were lost. The building we have today shows most of the medieval building still intact.
2024 marks the 900th anniversary of the building and is a wonderful reason to celebrate the past ministry of this place that has always been a place of worship. For the last 900 years many have come through its doors to worship God. Happy occasions and sad occasion alike have been attended by thousands over these years.
Throughout 2024 there will be NINE special services to mark the 900 years. We also have plans to have special events throughout the year of Duddingston Kirk 900.
The first of the nine special services will take place on the first Sunday of the year (7th January) and will be led by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton.
Please invite you neighbours, family and friends to kick off our celebration to the glory of God. In the meantime, on behalf of our ministry team may I wish you and your family a blessed Christmas time and a peaceful New Year.
Enter our Kirk, not as a stranger, because you belong here.
Discover its history in every stone.
Rest a while and enjoy the peace of this place of prayer and worship.
Rev Dr Jim Jack
*The Edinburgh episode of Songs of Praise can be found after it is broadcast at https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001s09d/songs-of-praise-edinburghs-religious-treasures