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Marykirk,old parish church and burial ground

A Scheduled Monument in Mearns, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 56.7804 / 56°46'49"N

Longitude: -2.5147 / 2°30'52"W

OS Eastings: 368649

OS Northings: 765547

OS Grid: NO686655

Mapcode National: GBR X3.MLQS

Mapcode Global: WH8R4.BTSX

Entry Name: Marykirk,old parish church and burial ground

Scheduled Date: 3 March 1994

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM5936

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Marykirk

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Mearns

Traditional County: Kincardineshire


The monument consists of the remains of the old parish church of Marykirk, formerly Abirlothenot, contained within an oval cemetery surrounded by a wall.

The nave of the church, first recorded in 1242, has been almost completely destroyed above ground level, but is recorded (in 1875) as having measured 29.3m by 5.2m. At the S side of it stands a transeptual chapel, 6.7m N-S by 5.6m E-W, now known as the "Thornton Aisle", which opened from the nave through a broad semi-circular arch with a heavy quirked roll-moulding on both arrisses.

A large rectangular window (now blocked) in the S gable and an ogee-headed credence niche in the E wall are evidently pre-Reformation features. Subsequently a door, bearing on its lintel the date 1615 between the initials AS, was inserted in the W wall. At a still later date, probably after the nave had gone out of use, this door and the N

window were blocked; the sole means of entry was now by a door in the blocking of the arch on the N.

At the same time small rectangular windows were inserted high up in the E and S walls. These works were evidently associated with the conversion of the chapel into a burial Aisle for the Strachans of Thornton. The centrepiece of the internal arrangement of the aisle was provided by the magnificently elaborate classical memorial to Dame Elizabeth Forbes, Lady of Thornton, erected against the W wall by her husband, Sir James Strachan of Thornton after her death in childbirth at the age of 24 in 1661.

On the N side of the former nave, and further E, the Barclay Aisle is an ivy-covered barrel-vault, 6.7m N-S by 5.3m E-W, with a chamfered door and the Barclay crest on the S. The ground level inside the graveyard has been artificially raised by at least 1m at about the time of the construction of the new parish church some way N of it in 1806.

A number of 17th-century gravestones were salvaged before this operation began, for use as kerbstones at the entrance gate on the W, and at the door into the Thornton Aisle.

The area to be scheduled includes the buried and standing remains of the old parish church, the burial aisles and the graveyard and graveyard wall enclosing them, an oval area measuring some 50m E-W by 40m N-S, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as encapsulating the building history of a parish church and the burial practices of its parishioners from at least as early as 1242 until the early 19th century; it has in addition the potential, through archaeological excavation, to shed further light on the architectural, ecclesiastical, social and cultural history of the medieval and post-medieval periods.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland


No Bibliography entries for this designation

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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