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Old Deer, Old Parish Church

A Scheduled Monument in Central Buchan, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.5193 / 57°31'9"N

Longitude: -2.0365 / 2°2'11"W

OS Eastings: 397912

OS Northings: 847686

OS Grid: NJ979476

Mapcode National: GBR P8BV.FP0

Mapcode Global: WH9P0.P8FF

Entry Name: Old Deer, Old Parish Church

Scheduled Date: 15 May 1997

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7123

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Old Deer

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Central Buchan

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of the old parish church which lie immediately E of the present parish church in the centre of Old Deer, incorporated into two contiguous walled roofless burial enclosures, separated by the medieval chancel arch. The only surviving parts of the medieval church appear to be the chancel arch itself, the truncated E end of the nave, and some parts of the N and S walls of the chancel.

The nave was 6.2m wide internally and of uncertain length, the W part having been destroyed completely when the parish church was built in 1788-9. Its overall width was probably 8.05m, the same as the present burial enclosure, though it is hard to detect any medieval masonry in the external walls as the facing has been greatly altered by repairs and the insertion into it of a various memorials. The W burial enclosure, of which it now forms part, extends 6.62m E-W, with a W wall 0.6m thick containing the entrance. This enclosure was probably formed in 1892, which is the date at which William Ferguson of Kinmundy erected a memorial against the S wall in memory of his ancestors, the earliest mentioned being James Ferguson of Kinmundy, who died in 1777. Medieval features of the nave that survive in situ include a splayed rounded-arched window in the N wall, and another facing it on the S. Just to the left of the latter is a scalloped piscina, set in a recess enclosed by a trefoil arch; this was probably intended to serve a nave altar placed to the right of the chancel arch. Immediately to the left of the chancel arch is another similar piscina, though less well preserved, indicating the former existence of another nave altar in that position also. To the left of the N window is an aumbry with a segmental-arched head surmounted by a pointed arch containing a cross in circle.

The chancel arch is 2.24m wide and roughly semi-circular, with a broad chamfer on both arrises. On the E face of the wall betwen the nave and the chancel, to the left of the arch and at a level just above its springing (perhaps some 2m above the original floor level) is a blocked door, that would possibly have given access to a rood loft above the nave altars. The chancel was 4.3m wide, though the medieval walls survive only as footings at the W end and in the central part of the S wall where the wall of the E burial encloure appears to retain the original wall-thickness. If one assumes that the form of the chancel is perpetuated more or less in that of the E burial enclosure, it would have been some 10.75m long internally. The burial enclosure itself appears to date from 1731, when James Ferguson of Pitfour erected a fine marble memorial to his wife, Anne Stuart, in the centre of its S wall. A heraldic stone is built into the E wall.

A number of heraldic stones and memorials are built into the external S wall of the W burial enclosure and appear to have been brought here from elsewhere. They include a 17th-century tomb set in an arcosolium with and inscription on the tomb chest, only part of which is now visible above ground; the arch encloses a heraldic stone and another representing a man and a woman identified by the initials AK and GK respectively with the date 1603. Above the arch is another inscription recording:

...]KEI[..]S BALLI[...

...]ANDREA SVMA.IVSTISSIMVS OMN[... (or Andreas vita ?)

...]PIVS ATQ(ue) PROBUS KAETHIA DVM [...

...]VSIT FAEMINAEI.SEXVS.COGNOMIN[e k]AETHA

NOMINE ET AEGIDI[e....t]VMVLATA IACET

OBIERE 1603 16[..] LAVS DEO

This evidently also relates to Andrew Keith and his wife, Gillian (?).

The Old Parish Church is traditionally supposed to have been dedicated to St Drostan, though there appears to be no certain evidence of this. Nor is there any certain evidence that it occupies the site of a monastery established by St Columba and St Drostan in AD 580. The Old Parish Church and Churchyard are listed as Historic Buildings (Category B).

The monument to be scheduled comprises both burial enclosures, the ground enclosed by them and the ground extending for 2m from their outer wall face, that is to say an area measuring some 23m E-W by 12.05m N-S, as indicated in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance in representing a well-preserved remnant of a medieval parish church and for the light that it sheds on the liturgical arrangment of such a building. Although none of the surviving upstanding fabric appears to date to earlier than the fifteenth century, the below-ground archaeological remains have the potential to shed further light not only on the later medieval church and its development, but also on the early church that it is likely to have replaced. The importance of the surviving structure is enhanced by the surviving medieval and post-medieval memorials that are built into it.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NJ94NE 3.1.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

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