French visitor shocked at Lanark St Kentigern’s ruin

If William Wallace came back to life, he’d be furious at the sorry state of the last surviving building in Lanark he’d have known in the 12th century.

So says a French historian who was shocked recently at the deterioration of Old St Kentigern’s Church since his last visit to the town in 2009.

Robert Burns once wrote of having the gift to see ourselves as others see us and the impression the most historic site in the Royal Burgh left on Bertrand Humeau was not a good one.

Currently living and working in England, Bertrand’s interest in Scottish mediaeval history in general and William Wallace in particular was prompted by The Braveheart’s own French - or rather Norman - ancestry.

This interest led him, in 2007 and 2009, to visit the building in which Wallace reputedly worshipped and was married to Marion Braidfute.

Back then he was impressed at the ruin in Lanark cemetery but he was shocked at its current state when he returned a few weeks ago.

French historian Bertrand Humeau  was shocked at the state of St Kentigern's Church

French historian Bertrand Humeau was shocked at the state of St Kentigern's Church

He said: “On April 2, I visited the site of the church of Saint Kentigern’s one more time. The condition of the church today worries me. It looks like the place has been abandoned and the council is waiting for it to collapse before demolishing it.

“In 2009, it was still possible to approach the church and walk inside it. Now, the access is blocked and the site does not look very welcoming.

“As a French person with an in interest in William Wallace and Scottish history, I was very sad to find Saint Kentigern’s in this condition.

“William Wallace would probably have rebelled against an administration not looking after its heritage. It took centuries to preserve it and, if we lose it, it will be lost forever.”

Although South Lanarkshire Council are stewards of Lanark cemetery, the responsibility for finding the funding to refurbish St Kentigern’s to become a national tourist attraction was passed to the Lanark Community Development Trust.

A Trust spokeswoman said this week: “Action plans to carry out urgent repair works to both the St Kentigern’s Church, and the adjacent mausoleum, are currently being prepared by South Lanarkshire Council.

“The Trust cannot do anything until SLC has stabilised the building but it is still very much a live project as far as we are concerned.”

The YouTube clip was taken by Bertrand Humeau in 2009 (with voice over by Ed Archer) on his last visit and the main video shows the deterioration since then.