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St Machar's Cathedral and graveyard

A Scheduled Monument in Tillydrone/Seaton/Old Aberdeen, Aberdeen City

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Latitude: 57.1697 / 57°10'10"N

Longitude: -2.1022 / 2°6'8"W

OS Eastings: 393915

OS Northings: 808761

OS Grid: NJ939087

Mapcode National: GBR SBV.VM

Mapcode Global: WH9QQ.P240

Entry Name: St Machar's Cathedral and graveyard

Scheduled Date: 31 December 1921

Last Amended: 28 April 1999

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM90001

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: cathedral

Location: Aberdeen

County: Aberdeen City

Electoral Ward: Tillydrone/Seaton/Old Aberdeen

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises those elements of St Machar's Cathedral that are not in ecclesiastical use as the parish church of Old Machar, the surrounding graveyard, excluding lairs for which burial rights survive at the date of scheduling.

The parts of the cathedral that do not form part of the present parish church comprise the transepts and the foundations of the eastern piers of the great central tower, which collapsed in 1688. These elements appear to date from the later 14th century onwards, but probably overlie buried remains of the first cathedral, begun between c.1130 and 1165, the choir of which was substantially rebuilt by Bishop Henry Cheyne (1282-1328).

The walls of the transepts now stand to a height of about 3m. The N transept, or St John's aisle, was built in 1424 by Bishop Henry Lichton and contains his tomb. The S transept was remodelled in 1522 by Bishop Gavin Dunbar (1518-32), whose tomb remains there. The choir, which Dunbar also began to rebuild, was left incomplete at the time of his death and was destroyed after 1560; but structural remains and archaeological deposits may be expected to survive beneath the present land surface.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described, the ground underlying these remains and the wall surrounding the graveyard and the whole area enclosed by it. It should be noted that the cathedral now in use as the parish church and also the principal SW gate and its lodges are not part of thie designation. The area measures some 134m E-W by 85m N-S, as shown outlined in red on the plan annexed and executed as relative hereto.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because of the information that it provides about medieval religious architecture and medieval and later funerary sculpture. In addition, its below-ground archaeological deposits and structural remains have the potential to contribute further to our understanding of the origins and early development of the religious use of the site.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NJ 90 NW 9.


Cross, M. (1994) Bibliography of Monuments in the Care of the Secretary of State for Scotland (Glasgow), 3-18.

Dennison, E. P. and Stones, J. (1997) Historic Aberdeen: The Archaeological Implications of Development (The Scottish Burgh Survey; Edinburgh), 110-14.
Historic Environment Scotland Properties
St. Machar's Cathedral Transepts
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Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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