Old Edderton Church lies about a mile south east of Edderton on the north side of the A836 and not far from the southern shore of the inner Dornoch Firth. It is also known as Edderton Free Church: which it became after 1843. Today it is preserved as an excellent example of a church virtually unaltered since the late 1700s.
Old Edderton Church was built in 1743. The presence of what are thought to be the remains of the chancel of an earlier church at its east end, used as a mausoleum from the 1630s, suggest the site has been in use for rather longer.
And the presence in the graveyard of a Pictish cross-slab with a Celtic cross on one side and a Roman cross on the other suggests a church or chapel might have existed here as early as the 800s.
As originally built in 1743, the church had a heather thatch, but this was replaced in 1758 by Easedale slate. Old Edderton Church is laid out to a T-plan and is designed to ensure the maximum number of people could be accommodated, and all within easy hearing of the preacher. The pulpit lies centrally on the south side of the church, and all three arms of the "T" have double level seating, with galleries above rather claustrophobic stalls.
Internal ornamentation that might distract the congregation from the preacher is completely absent. Churches like this give the strong sense that their aim was less to uplift the spirits of those who attended that it was to impose a particular view of the world. As a result what some call "preaching boxes" never feel wholly welcoming or comfortable and Old Edderton Church is no exception: but that makes it no less fascinating.
By 1841 the church was considered too small to accommodate the congregation of the day and a new church was built nearer the centre of Edderton. This opened its doors for its first service on 5 October 1842. But in 1843 the Free Church broke away from the Church of Scotland: and in Edderton, a large part of the congregation followed the Minister to become part of the Free Church.
The first services were held in the churchyard of Old Edderton Church before the church itself was made over to the Free Church. Nowadays the church is in the hands of the Edderton Old Church Preservation Trust.
Externally the mausoleum at the east end was (probably deliberately) bettered by the battlemented burial enclosure built at the west end in 1821 for the Baillies of Rosehall. Within it, on the west wall of the church itself, is a gravestone for William Baillie. This dates from 1779 and therefore predates the enclosure. It is remarkable for the covering of the whole of the visible side in closely carved script extolling Baillie's virtues in a way that reads more like a politician's manifesto for admission to the afterlife than a normal graveyard inscription.
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Grid Ref: NH 719 843