Although there is a probability that some type of religious building had been located on the high ground east of Salsburgh as far back as the 12th Century the first one documented was a Chapel in 1450.This place of worship was founded by Archibald the Grim, Earl of Douglas and was dedicated to Catherine of Siena.In the 15th Century the area around the Chapel was known as Bothwellmuir and was part of the Parish of Bothwell.
Catherine of Siena was born Caterina Benincasa on the 25th March, 1347 in Siena, Italy.Her father was Giacomo de Benincasa, a cloth drier and her mother was Lapa Piagenti, daughter of a local poet.At an early age Catherine swore a vow of chastity and dedicated her life to her Church and to helping the ill and the poor. At that time Italy was comprised of a number of city states and principalities constantly at war with each other and Catherine tried to use her influence from her popularity and respect, through her charitable works, to bring peace to the warring factions.She was appointed emissary of the city state of Florence and in this capacity she travelled widely throughout northern Europe although there is no documented evidence of her ever being in Scotland.However Enea Silvio Piccolomini who later became Pope Pius II visited the central belt of Scotland as an emissary of the Vatican in the years shortly before the building and naming of the Chapel.He was born and raised in Corsignano, Italy about three miles from the birthplace and family home of Catherine of Siena.He was ordained as Pope in 1458 and three years later performed the canonization ceremony which elevated Catherine of Siena to Sainthood.
Catherine of Siena died of a stroke in Rome on 29th April, 1380 aged 33.
In 1457 the King of Scotland, James II, split the Barony of Bothwell in two with the western half given to Lord Crichton and the eastern half, including Bothwellmuir, awarded to Lord Hamilton.However the Parish of Bothwell remained as it had been.
In 1471, Lord James Hamilton rededicated the Chapel and built a hospital beside it for the poor of the area and for use of travellers on the Bridle road which passed by the Chapel and which was at that time the main road between Glasgow and Edinburgh through this area.Lord James endowed this hospital with lands at Kinneil, and to this day some land around the Church area is still under the stewardship of the Hamilton Kinneil Estates.His rededication of a Chapel at Bertram Shotts was confirmed by a Bull of Pope Sixtus the IV on St. Catherine’s feast day 30th April, 1476.(A copy of this Bull and a copy ofthe English translation was presented to Kirk O’ Shotts by the Shotts History Group in 2004.)
With Catherine of Siena having been canonized in 1461 by Pope Pius II as St. Catherine of Siena this Chapel would now be known as St. Catherine’s.
Although any connection with Catherine of Siena to this area is unclear she undoubtedly left her mark through her name being applied to several features locally.Apart from the Chapel named after her, the hill up to the Chapel was known as Kate’s Brae.Kate’s Well is still to be found at the bottom of the Brae.
Also nearby was an area known as Kate’s Park and one of the Fairs held locally was known as Kate’s Fair, the name being well documented in the Session Records.
Although no physical evidence of the building remains, a rectangular grassy area near the centre of the old graveyard marks the location where the Chapel once stood.
The Chapel remained as part of the Parish of Bothwell with no major changes concerning it being documented until the middle of the 16th Century.
KIRK O’ SHOTTS.
Following the Reformation in 1560 and the decision of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to make the Church of Scotland the national church, St. Catherine’s became a protestant place of worship with the name Kirk of Bertram Shotts.Also around this time the Parish of Bothwell was split in two with the eastern part including the area of Bothwellmuir formed into a new Parish called Bertram Shotts.For a time after the Reformation the Church was under the charge of John Hamilton, minister at Bothwell, and he fulfilled this duty from 1560 to 1571.Thereafter the Provost of Bothwell had the responsibility for providing clergy for the new Parish until 1591.He did this by providing readers.These were John Robertson from 1571 to 1574 and Thomas Hamilton from 1574 to 1591.In 1591 Thomas Muirhead took up his duties as the first ordained minister of the Kirk and Parish of Bertram Shotts.By the 17th Century the name Bertram to describe the Parish or Kirk had fallen into disuse by the parishioners and though church, legal and other documents and papers continued to use the term Bertram Shotts up until the 19th Century the congregation and others simply used the term Kirk O’ Shotts or Parish of Shotts.
In 1630 an event occurred at the Kirk O’ Shotts which came to be known as the Shotts Revival.At that time Communion was held twice a year at the Kirk O’ Shotts and it was common for guest ministers to preach on the Saturday before and the Monday following the Communion service.These services, apart from being attended by the local congregation, attracted visitors from outside the Parish from as far away as Edinburgh and Glasgow.On the Monday morning of 21st June 1630, following the Sunday Communion service, the guest speaker was the Reverend John Livingstone from Cumbernauld.The service took place not in the Kirk but at the western end of the Churchyard and was attended by hundreds of people.
His sermon which lasted for two and a half hours was delivered in such a spiritual and eloquent manner that over five hundred of the congregation were so moved that they declared themselves saved and professed to dedicate themselves to God by following His teachings and spreading His word. The far-reaching effects of this event were felt for many years to come both locally and nationally.To this day the Shotts Revival is commemorated annually by a service in the Kirk O’ Shotts with special services being held on appropriate anniversaries.
In 1663 the Reverend John Livingstone was banished from Scotland for refusing to take the Oath of Allegiance and died in exile in Rotterdam on the 9th August, 1672.
By the year 1640 the Kirk was badly in need of repair and a meeting of the Presbytery that year took the decision to repair and partially rebuild the Kirk.These repairs and alterations took over eight years to complete and they included a new pulpit, seating, windows and roof.Further repairs were carried out in 1691.
The Kirk O’ Shotts Manse which stood on the south side of the Churchyard was abandoned for a new Manse which had been constructed in 1700 in the Glebe.A section of this Manse still survives as part of the north wall of the enclosed garden which is located just behind the present Manse which was built in 1838.
In 1706 the Parish of Shotts sent an official protest to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh against the proposed Union of Scotland and England.However, as history shows, this protest proved to be unsuccessful.
In 1799 a new Kirk O’ ShottsSchool was built across from the Churchyard on the south side of the bridle road.This school replaced the old school which had been situated just east of the Covenanter’s grave.
The new school was enlarged in the 19th Century but was vacated when the new ShottskirkPublic School was built at the east end of the Village in 1912.The name of this school was later changed to Kirk O’ Shotts Primary.
In 1817 Kirk O’ Shotts officials decided that the present Kirk was too small and structurally unsafe and it was decided to construct a new Kirk. The location was to be west of the Churchyard wall on a piece of ground where the Shotts Fairs had been held over the centuries.Work on the new Kirk commenced in 1819.It was completed in 1821 and opened on 26th October 1821 for services.During its construction and with the old Kirk having been demolished the congregation met for worship in the Churchyard.The contractor for the building was John Loudon of Airdrie who was paid £2,518.00.The Architect was James Gillespie Graham of Edinburgh whose fee was £50.00.Modifications to the original plans to eliminate unnecessary ornament were made by John Brash of Glasgow who was paid a small sum for his work.These and other costs made a grand total of £2,720.00.
The only surviving items connected with the old Kirk are the Baptismal Font and the Sundial.The Baptismal Font was lost for a number of years but was found in a pig sty in a local farm where it was being used as a feeding trough.It was cleaned and rededicated and is still used to this day for baptisms.The Sundial was for a long period located in the gardens at the rear of Shottsburn Manse but it was returned to the Kirk O’ Shotts after the closure of ShottsburnChurch in 1975.It now sits beside the Baptismal Font inside the Kirk.
On the 23rd July 1876 the Kirk Spire was struck by lightening and destroyed.The lightening strike also caused severe damage to the roof.Repairs to the roof were quickly undertaken and a small pinnacled bellcote was erected to replace the spire which had been destroyed.
The stained glass window in the east wall of the Kirk was installed on behalf of the congregation and friends in June 1914 to honour the memory and ministry of the Rev. William Martin Watt.The Rev. Watt was appointed by the Duke of Hamilton and ordained by the Presbytery on the 29th February, 1844 as the minister of the Kirk and Parish of Shotts.He held this position until his death in June 1904, a period of over 60 years.The Rev. Watt was interred in the family plot at Kirk O’ Shotts cemetery on the 9th June, 1904.
The unveiling by the Right Rev. Professor William Patterson, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, of the Memorial Tablet to local men who had fallen in the Great War, took place at a dedication service on Sunday, 31st October, 1920.
The Centenary of the Kirk O’ Shotts was celebrated by the holding of a special service on Sunday, 30th October, 1921.The ministers participating at this service were the Right Rev. Dr. James A. McClymont, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Rev. Duncan Cameron from Cleland and the Rev. John McNicoll Ramsay who was the minister at Kirk O’ Shotts.
On Sunday, 26th November, 1950 services took place in the Kirk O’ Shotts to mark 500 years of the presence of a Christian place of worship at this site.The Rev. John W. McBride was the minister of the Kirk O’ Shotts at the time of this quin-centenary celebration.
At the entrance road into the Kirk sits a stone with a plaque attached.The plaque came from the U.K. branch of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, a Lutheran Sisterhood founded in Germany at the end of World War II.Similar plaques have been erected in significant positions around the world.The local quarry generously supplied the stone to which the plaque is attached.The plaque was dedicated in June, 2000 to the Glory of God and for the comfort of all who pass by.
Kirk O’ ShottsCemetery is the final resting place for over 12,000.The cemetery dates back to at least the time of the first Church in 1450.
In the old Churchyard burials took place in the area immediately surrounding the Church with some taking place inside the building itself.This practise was discontinued in the early years of the 19th Century.Subsequent additions to the cemetery took place with the creation of the south cemetery in 1876 at the east side of the Churchyard followed by the addition of Section A or north cemetery in 1910. Section H on the north side of the Kirk and a smaller section J on the south side were added in the latter half of the 20th Century.
In the early 1990’s a decision was reached by the Kirk O’ Shotts Session and congregation that an external maintenance and repair programme should be carried out including a new roof and work on the windows and walls to make the Kirk wind and weatherproof.This was to be followed by an internal programme of alteration and restoration including new flooring and seating downstairs and the creation of a spacious reception area.Following a feasibility study and costing exercise, permission to proceed with the restoration was eventually granted by the Trustees and the Presbytery.
However due to the significant cost of the restoration programme, the fundraising required, to planning and other problems it was not until February, 2005 that work started on the outside renovations.
This work was completed in September, 2005.Internal refurbishment began in February 2007.
This was completed in September, 2007.
The service for the re-dedication of the Kirk was held on Wednesday, 12th September, 2007 hosted by the minister of the Kirk O’ Shotts, the Rev. Sheila M. Spence.
The Kirk is designated as a Category B listed building.