Ancient Monuments

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Old Braco, chapel and enclosure 190m SSE of

A Scheduled Monument in West Garioch, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.2788 / 57°16'43"N

Longitude: -2.4829 / 2°28'58"W

OS Eastings: 370981

OS Northings: 821013

OS Grid: NJ709210

Mapcode National: GBR X3.TVCJ

Mapcode Global: WH8NT.T9VT

Entry Name: Old Braco, chapel and enclosure 190m SSE of

Scheduled Date: 7 February 2008

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12119

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: chapel

Location: Chapel Of Garioch

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: West Garioch

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises the remains of a late-medieval chapel and its enclosure built sometime after AD 1420. The chapel is situated on a SW-facing slope at around 135m above sea level.

Preserved as a standing monument, the remains of the chapel lie within a sub-rectangular enclosure. The walls of the chapel appear to be constructed of earth-bonded granite rubble, although they are now grass-grown. These indicate that the chapel measures around 10m ESE-WNW by around 5.5m transversely. The walls of the chapel are around 1.5m thick at the gables and currently stand from around 0.5m to 1.2m in height. The entrance may have been sited where there is now a gap in the W end of the S wall. The chapel appears to have been constructed by Isabella Mortimer - the widow of Sir Andrew Lesley - as a memorial on the site of his murder on 22 January 1420, although it is not known whether Lesley's remains are interred within the chapel, or if they ever were. The surrounding enclosure measures around 19.2m ESE-WNW by around 16m transversely within the dry-stone wall defining it. The interior of this area is planted with ash and oak and has also been utilised for field clearance, containing several large boulders. Field clearance is also evident in the E end of the chapel itself. In 2005 a stile was created through the SW corner of the enclosure and an electric fence was set into the top of the perimeter wall.

The area to be scheduled is rectangular on plan, extending up to and including the enclosure's boundary wall, to include the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Specifically excluded from the scheduled area to allow for their maintenance are the line of the stile through the wall and its immediate footing, and the electric fence and its immediate footing. Also to be excluded are the recent funerary stone at the E end of the chapel interior and the modern stone bench setting.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

Medieval chapel sites often do not survive well, but this example shows a high level of preservation. While the walls are quite badly denuded, they retain their form and the layout of the chapel, including the possible entrance, can be traced. The enclosure around the chapel also presents an extremely strong likelihood of burials associated with one or more of the phases of use of the chapel. In addition, sub-surface remains surrounding the chapel may reveal the presence of additional structures, now removed. Such deposits may provide us with valuable information regarding the purpose of the monument, the people who erected and utilised it and the methods used in its creation. The chances of uncovering such deposits are high, as the ground appears to be undisturbed, with the exception of the tree growth.

Contextual characteristics

This monument has the capacity to contribute to a better understanding of medieval memorial chapel sites in Scotland. The level of survival of this example presents an excellent opportunity to further our understanding of such monuments and the traditions associated with them. We can use the information gained from the preservation and study of this monument to gain a wider insight into the nature and distribution of later medieval Christian memorial monuments throughout Scotland.

Associative characteristics

The chapel has direct links to a named figure in history, which is rare due to the sporadic survival of medieval records. Through this, the chapel is directly linked to the local area and beyond by the significance of the Lesley family in history, and the murder that the structure commemorates. A tradition that the structure was adapted for use as a burial place for the Earls of Aberdeen at some unknown time is unsubstantiated. If this is the case, it represents an unusual and extremely interesting move, given the nature of the parochial system and the importance it placed on burial within or around the main parish church, especially for such important figures in the area. In addition, its recent reuse to house a memorial to a local resident shows the continuity of the chapel's significance within the area.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to contribute to the understanding of the past, in particular medieval non-parochial chapel sites and religious practices. It forms an important part of the medieval remains of the area. Surrounding remains may reveal important information about the Christian society that erected the monument and the role the chapel played in everyday lives. Spatial analysis of this and other contemporary monuments may reveal valuable information on the layout and distribution pattern of Christian sites within the landscape. The loss of the monument would impede our understanding of the placing of such monuments and the purpose and methods of their construction.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NJ72SW 17. It is recorded in the Aberdeenshire council SMR as NJ72SW001.


Simpson W D 1949, THE EARLDOM OF MAR: BEING A SEQUEL TO THE PROVINCE OF MAR, 1943, Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 60-1.

RCAHMS 2007, IN THE SHADOW OF BENNACHIE: THE FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY OF DONSIDE, ABERDEENSHIRE, Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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