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Burgh of Rattray, St Mary's Chapel and Castle Hill, Old Rattray

A Scheduled Monument in Peterhead North and Rattray, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.6092 / 57°36'33"N

Longitude: -1.8572 / 1°51'25"W

OS Eastings: 408630

OS Northings: 857695

OS Grid: NK086576

Mapcode National: GBR P8RM.5SK

Mapcode Global: WHBPV.F0VK

Entry Name: Burgh of Rattray, St Mary's Chapel and Castle Hill, Old Rattray

Scheduled Date: 5 December 1973

Last Amended: 23 February 1998

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3303

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: chapel; Secular: burgh, including deserted burgh

Location: Crimond

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Peterhead North and Rattray

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises the site of the deserted burgh of Rattray, including the remains of the medieval chapel of St Mary and the site of the castle.

The castle site and chapel were originally scheduled independently in 1973. However, excavations undertaken between 1985 and 1990 have established that considerable remains of the deserted burgh exist in the fields lying either side of the road leading to Old Rattray farm. The present rescheduling includes all those areas in which archaeological remains are known to lie.

The town of Rattray was probably first laid out sometime in the 13th century by one of its Comyn lords. The chapel of St Mary, dated architecturally to the first third of that century and referred to in 1214x33, seems likely to have been part of the original establishment. The town was granted its one and only burgh charter, making it a royal burgh, from Mary, queen of Scots, on 6 March 1563/4. However, only 8 residents were recorded in 1561, and it seems that the principal reason for granting the charter was to settle a dispute between the Hays, earls of Errol, and the Keiths, Earls Marischal, over the lordship of the town and its lands. By 1696 the site was occupied by only 4 families of fisherfolk.

St Mary's Chapel is roofless with a simple rectangular plan, measuring 13.8m by 5.65m within walls 0.85-1.0m thick. The gable walls are steeply pitched, that on the E containing 3 stepped rounded-arched windows, that on the W a single window. The side walls are mostly reduced in height, with remains of opposing doorways located some 2m from the west end.

Castle Hill is a naturally prominent sand dune, measuring some 60 x 70m and c.6m higher than the surrounding field. Excavations have revealed that its initial defences, constructed in the late 12th century, included a ditch around the base and a bank around the top perimeter. Occupation lasted until the mid or late 15th century. During WWII a concrete pill-box was built on the north-east side of the hill.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, with maximal dimensions of 690m SW-NE by 360m NW-SE, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. The scheduling is to exclude the eastern extension to the cemetery surrounding St Mary's chapel and the walls around it, and the farm buildings of Old Rattray farm and the walls surrounding them. The upper 30cm of the surface of the public road within the area is also excluded from scheduling to allow for its maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland


No Bibliography entries for this designation

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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