Reasons for Designation
A medieval chapel is a building, usually rectangular, containing a range of
furnishings and fittings appropriate for Christian worship in the pre-
Reformation period. Chapels were designed for congregational worship and were
generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provided accommodation
for the laity, and the chancel, which was the main domain of the priest and
contained the principal altar. Around 4000 parochial chapels were built
between the 12th and 17th centuries as subsidiary places of worship built for
the convenience of parishioners who lived at a distance from the main parish
church. Other chapels were built as private places of worship by manorial
lords and lie near or within manor houses, castles or other high-status
residences. Chantry chapels were built and maintained by endowment and were
established for the singing of masses for the soul of the founder. Some
chapels possessed burial grounds. Unlike parish churches, the majority of
which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their
communities and supporting finances declined or disappeared. Many chantry
chapels disappeared after the dissolution of their supporting communities in
Chapels, like parish churches, have always been major features of the
landscape. A significant number of surviving examples are identified as being
nationally important. The sites of abandoned chapels, where positively
identified, are particularly worthy of statutory protection as they were often
left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the
nature and date of their use up to their abandonment.
St Giles's Chapel and burial ground remain readily identifiable despite having
been abandoned in the 18th century. They will contain significant evidence of
how they were used between the 12th to 18th centuries, including information
on the individuals buried there. They will also contribute to understanding of
the history of the adjacent castle and village of Wark.
The monument includes the remains of a post-Norman Conquest medieval chapel
and graveyard. The chapel is situated in a shallow natural bowl between the
glacial ridge, or kaim, to the south and a slight rise to the lip of the river
cliff to the north. A natural gap in the kaim, known as Gilly's Nick, has
been utilised as an access route; a terraced trackway leads from the south
gateway to this gap and this trackway is included in the scheduling. The
chapel lies approximately 280m to the west of Wark Castle.
The visible remains consist of a stone built, rectangular chapel, surrounded
by a graveyard set within a kite-shaped enclosure. The chapel occupies the
northern part of the enclosure and is aligned east-west. The walls of the
chapel survive as low banks up to 2m wide and up to 0.4m high, the chapel has
a chancel 13m wide, and a broader nave, 17m wide. It is at least 25m long,
although the western end wall does not survive above ground. The chapel is
surrounded by the burial ground, referred to in 1823 as `the burial ground at
Gilly's Nick`. Two gravestones are visible in the area immediately to the
east of the chapel. One of these, which is Listed Grade II, is a medieval
grave slab bearing an incised cross and two other symbols, now very weathered,
but which were identified in the mid-18th century as being two swords. The
other gravestone is a partly buried headstone of probable 18th century date.
The northern wall of the graveyard enclosure is 42m long, the southern wall is
15m long, the east and west walls are 40m and 38m respectively. There are
opposing entrances near the centres of the north and south walls. The
enclosure walls are up to 0.8m thick and survive up to 0.7m high.
The chapel of Wark belonged to the priory of Kirkham. This priory had been
founded by Walter l'Espec, who also founded Wark Castle in the early 12th
century. The chapel is believed to have served the castle and village of Wark
on Tweed. It is dedicated to St Giles, the patron saint of beggars, which has
been taken to explain its siting at a distance from the settlement, outside
the castle walls.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.