12th century Kirkton Church in Burntisland has been awarded £90,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to preserve the nationally significant ruined building and its churchyard. 

The Old Kirkton Church and Historic Graveyard Steering Group made up of the Burntisland Heritage Trust, Fife Council, Burntisland Community Council and the Floral Action Burntisland group submitted the successful bid to safeguard the future of the medieval building and graveyard.

 This community-led project will bring one of Fife’s most important historic sites back into community use, and put it on Scotland’s cultural and tourist map. Kirkton ceased to be the parish church around 1592 when the present Burntisland Parish Church was constructed, and is currently in a state of disuse and disrepair.

The grant for Old Kirkton Church (Burntisland) Community Conservation and Heritage Promotion project will ensure that Kirkton Church, the oldest building in Burntisland, is preserved for future generations. This will involve clearing off ivy growth, stabilising its crumbling walls, capping the wall-heads and both reinstating and repairing fallen and broken gravestones.

The dedication to St Serf, the great age of the church and its surviving medieval chancel arch combine to make this a site of national significance.

Ian Archibald, Trustee and Convenor of Burntisland Heritage Trust, said: “Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Kirkton Church and graveyard will at last receive the attention and conservation they deserve. By unlocking the site’s rich cultural heritage locals and visitors alike will be able to learn about this valuable heritage resource.”

Outreach activities and raising awareness of the medieval site’s historical importance are central to the project. A range of volunteer-led activities are set to engage as many local people as possible.

Councillor George Kay said: “The local community has been working hard on this project for many years, and I would like to congratulate them on this success. I am delighted that all their hard work has paid off, that Kirkton Church will be made safe and that the graveyard will be opened again as a public space of great historical interest.”

Councillor Susan Leslie added: “Crucially, the project will enable local people and children, as well as historians, to engage with and learn more about Fife’s rich history in interesting and exciting ways. A variety of community and educational activities are planned, including work with Burntisland Primary School to develop pupil’s heritage skills and knowledge and green graveyard conservation initiatives. Innovative digital education and community resources that explore and record the site’s history are set to be created for the benefit of all.”

The two-year project to transform the roofless ruin is set to start later this year, subject to reaching the funding total of £130,000. Once all funding is in place, the project will begin with the building works, followed by graveyard work, culminating in educational and promotional activities.

Colin McLean, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, neglected or run-down historic buildings are not only rescued, but conserved for future generations to enjoy and learn from. Old Kirkton Church (Burntisland) Community Conservation and Heritage Promotion project will rejuvenate a much-loved building, showing how it can provide an important link to a community’s roots, while being adapted to meet the needs of today.”

SOURCE: Fife Direct

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