Holy Cross Kirk, eccles. Crail

Grid reference

NO 613 078 (accurate position)

Six-figure easting & northing

361300 707800





Altitude (metres)




Nearby places

Crail, parish (0 miles)

Rude Well, Crail (0.14 miles)

St Maolrubha's Chapel, Crail (0.19 miles)

Ladylands, settlement, Kingsbarns (1.14 miles)

Kilminning, settlement Crail (1.16 miles)

Object Classification


Is linear feature?



S.Taylor & G. Márkus, The Place-Names of Fife, vol. 3, 181: 'The dedication of Crail's medieval parish kirk is not entirely clear. A charter dated at Crail 'in Haly Croce Kirk' in 1384 indicates that the kirk was dedicated to the Holy Cross or Ruid (Sc ruid or rood 'cross'), and there is further evidence for this dedication in the *Rood Well just east of the kirk, first occurring as Ruidwalis in 1594 (RMS vi no. 100, plural form), and which already by 1517 had given rise to the name Rudwell Croft (Crail Register no. 26). Also one of the altars in the parish kirk was, in the year 1574, still dedicated to 'Sanct Johnne the Baptist and the Halyruid' (Assumption, 66), though the whole kirk by that point was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Within the church stands a carved cross slab, apparently of earlier date than our earliest records of the church or settlement, suggesting that it was already a site of some importance. It is possible that the cross-slab, with its carvings of beasts and human figures, including one which seems to be of a headless man carrying the cross on his upraised hands, was the 'rood' at the centre of the parish cult (NMRS NO60NW 2). More significantly there was a cult of the holy rood at Crail which attracted pilgrims, as MacKinlay (1893, 265) notes: 'The Cross of Crail in Fife had the power of working wonderful cures, and many were the pilgrims who flocked to it.' Sir David Lyndsay's 'Dialog Betuix Experience and ane Courteour', written in the mid-sixteenth century, also attests to this pilgrimage cult (as part of Lynsday's general diatribe against religious devotion to the saints and their images): 'And sum, in hope to get thare haill, Rynnis to the auld rude of Kerraill' [lines 2385-6] Later evidence suggests that on being erected as a collegiate church in the early sixteenth century, by the authority of the Cistercian nuns of Haddington, the church was given a new dedication to the BVM


Relationships with other parishes

Within Crail, parish

Within Crail, parish

Relationships with other places

Adjacent Rude Well, Crail