'Irreplaceable' 200-year-old Bibles stolen from Abercorn Parish Church

Two "highly valued" historic bibles have been stolen from a church in West Lothian which can trace its roots back to 480AD.

Abercorn Bibles
Abercorn Parish Church with inset of one of stolen pulpit bibles.

A thief or thieves broke a window to access Abercorn Parish Church near South Queensferry and made off with the “irreplaceable” religious texts, which are thought to be nearly 200 years old.

Minister the Rev Scott Marshall described the theft from the pulpit area of the church, which took place sometime between midday on Sunday, July 17 and 2pm on Saturday, July 23, as “sad and disappointing”.

He urged the thief or thieves to return the Bibles, which are each approximately two foot by one foot in size, around five inches thick and bound with red leather with distinctive brass plating on the corners, undamaged as soon and possible.

They had been lent to the church by the Hopetoun Family.

Sad and disappointing

Mr Marshall said: “These Bibles have been on display for everyone to see for many years when the church was opened.”

The Kirk Session of Abercorn Parish Church, which is one of the oldest places of worship in Scotland, took a decision last summer to keep the building locked while not in use following a series of anti-social incidents involving drinking and smoking.

Mr Marshall said: “Given we had to lock the church last year because people were not respecting the freedom and privilege of having a place where they could go for peace and quiet, it is sad and disappointing that someone has broken into a place of worship and taken these Bibles.

“I would appeal to the person who has taken them to return them to us safely.”

Session clerk Tommy Nimmo, who was interviewed by STV, said the congregation was “very upset” by what had happened.

“It is an infringement and intrusion on our church,” he added.

“We are very sorry that the church had to be locked in the first place but that is the world we live in.

“We are worried that whoever took the Bibles will break into the church to return them.”

Police are now appealing for information in an effort to return the stolen items as quickly as possible.

Constable Andrew Young who is based at Broxburn police station said: "Both bibles hold considerable value not only in monetary terms but also have historic significance for the local community.

"We are extremely keen to recover these items and return them to the church as quickly as possible.”

Irreplaceable

Lord Hopetoun, an elder at the church who was speaking on behalf of the Hope family, added: ” We are very distressed at the theft of these bibles.

“They have been on loan from my family to Abercorn Kirk for a long time and recently, the Kirk Session of which I am part had reluctantly to take the decision to lock the church after a series of antisocial incidents.

"To be confronted now with the theft of these irreplaceable pulpit bibles is deeply sad.

"If anyone has any knowledge of their whereabouts, I would urge them to contact the police as they are of huge value to the Abercorn community.”

Anyone with any information is being urged to contact Police Scotland on 101. Alternatively a report can be passed anonymously through the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.