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Parish Church, Bothkennar

Parish Church, Bothkennar. Bothkennar, now a quoad sacra parish under Grangemouth, was formerly independent, and its church stands in a graveyard N. of the by-road leading from the Polmont-Stirling highway (A 905), at Pinfoldbridge, to Carronshore. The church (Fig. 57) was "rebuilt" in 1789 and remodelled and enlarged in 1887, when an extension containing new entrances was added on the S. and a vestry on the N.; the work of 1789 is no doubt commemorated by a stone bearing that date which is built into the wall, high up, near the NE. corner. It is clear, however, that this rebuilding was not total, and that remains of an older structure survive; evidence for this is seen in the masonry of the lowermost four feet or so of the walls, as under each of the existing windows on the N. side, which have been placed to suit a higher floor than that of the older structure, there appear the lower rybats and sill of an original window, now built up, with dressed and backset margins. Similarly, the bottom part of an original doorway survives under the window in the E. gable, while a corresponding doorway, now also built up, in the centre of the opposite gable provided the access to the church until the new entrances were formed in 1887. The structure to which these openings belonged, and the lower courses of masonry in which they are found, may perhaps have originated in 1673, as this date is incised high up on the W. gable near the SW. corner; this inscription also suggests the retention at the southern ends of the gables of some of the higher parts of the walling of this period, as well as of the lower, during the rebuilding in 1789.

Parish Church, BothkennarThough the difference between old and new work is hardly perceptible in the face of the E. gable, there is a decided contrast between the character of the masonry in the southern and northern halves of the W. gable, and this tends to confirm the idea that earlier work was retained on the S.; it may also be significant that the southern angles of the church have slightly backset dressed margins, similar to the old doors and windows, in contrast with the plain quoins of the angles on the N. Apparently the size of the church remained unchanged until the 19th-century reconstruction, when most of its southern wall was removed to allow for increased accommodation in the new additions on that side. The original church, rectangular on plan, measured 57 ft. 9 in. by 35 ft. externally, the walls being 2 ft. 9 in. thick and built of random rubble. The present windows are round-headed and have rounded arrises.

Abutting on the W. gable is a tower, erected either during the alterations of 1789 or very shortly afterwards. On plan it is 11 ft. square over walls approximately 3 ft. thick; it rises to a height of four storeys, the upper ones being reached by ladders and hatchways. A door in the middle of its S. wall leads into a small chamber 5 ft. square, which served as a vestibule before the W. door was built up. The top storey is used as a belfry. In its ascent the tower is intaken at two stages, the lower between the first and second storeys, at about the level of the eaves of the church, and the higher between the upper two floors. Below the lower intake the masonry is squared rubble roughly brought to courses, but higher up it is ashlar to the apex of a concave-sided pyramidal roof. This alteration may indicate a delay in the completion of the upper portion. The openings on the second floor are lintelled but elsewhere they are round-headed. The church bell dates only from 1911. An earlier bell, by Robert Maxwell & Co., Edinburgh, has been removed to Fallin; it is dated 1729 and is similar in design and lettering to the Meikle bell at Gargunnock.

The internal arrangements of the church date only from the reconstruction of 1887. The pulpit now stands in front of a recess in the centre of the N. wall, and E. of it a door has been broken through into the vestry.

HERALDIC CARVINGS. In addition to the two stones noted above, bearing respectively the dates 1673 and 1789, and another bearing the initials W B and the date 1654, two heraldic stones have been reset in the walls of the church. One, on the W. side, shows a shield dividing the date 1654, and the initials W B and charged: A saltire and chief. The arms and initials are those of William Bruce, 2nd of Newtoun (cf. No. 306), who was retoured heir to his father Patrick Bruce in 1655 and was still alive in 1709. In the E. wall there is a very badly weathered stone bearing a shield charged: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, a chevron; 2nd (and presumably 3rd) a stag’s head erased. These arms have not been identified.

TOMBSTONES. The only tombstone in the churchyard on which a date earlier than 1707 can be made out is a small headstone inscribed in relief 1640 / I A. Some of the later stones (Pl. 48 B, C, D) show fine representations of ships, and no doubt commemorate seamen of the former port of Carronshore.



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