The Watch-House

Dalgety Bay, Fife: The simple watch-house at St Bridget’s Kirk 


Appearing to have been built using a  ‘blueprint’, there are a number of striking resemblances among the watch-houses that are found in churchyards today. 
Often simple structures (there are some exceptions) one side often utilizes the churchyard wall as part of the building. Constructed to keep ‘the watch’ safe and dry during those long winter nights while keeping vigil over the recently interred, the humble watch-house can be found in many a parish churchyard which was seen to be under threat from the resurrection men. 
A small window, often at head height, directed the watcher’s view over the surrounding countryside, while they waited patiently for a raid to take place. 
 Cromdale, Strathspey: A rather neglected interior

Enter these ‘houses’ and you may find a small fireplace, and barely enough room to swing a cat, but they weren’t built for comfort, you didn’t want your watch party falling asleep now did you! 
Eyemouth, Berwickshire: Slowly corroding away

Not all watch-houses lack inspiration however. Displaying later alterations, the watch-houses at Prestonpans, East Lothian  and Eyemouth in Berwickshire are something else entirely. Eyemouth watch-house was built in 1849 when the churchyard was altered after exceeding capacity. Utilizing decorative headstones makes this structure somewhat different, especially due to the erosion having taken place due to it’s coastal location. 

Prestonpans, East Lothian: A haven for Memento Mori

Prestonpans watch-house however is something else. Detail was the key here and the facade is adorned with interest. Skull and crossbones can be found high above the main window and an equally elaborate stone can be viewed, well, just near the drain pipe actually! 

Prestonpans, East Lothian: Skull and crossbones detail.


Prestonpans, East Lothian