Ancient Monuments

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Old Pitsligo Church and burial ground

A Scheduled Monument in Troup, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.6859 / 57°41'9"N

Longitude: -2.1125 / 2°6'44"W

OS Eastings: 393393

OS Northings: 866238

OS Grid: NJ933662

Mapcode National: GBR P84D.WCR

Mapcode Global: WH9N6.J29Q

Entry Name: Old Pitsligo Church and burial ground

Scheduled Date: 26 February 2003

Last Amended: 6 June 2005

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM89

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Pitsligo

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Troup

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument consists of the remains of Old Pitlsigo Church and burial ground, which is situated on high ground overlooking Rosehearty and the North Sea beyond. The church stands 40m to the SW of the present, though redundant, parish church of Pitsligo which was built in 1890. The monument was first scheduled in 1955. On that occasion only the ruined structure was scheduled. The monument is being rescheduled to include the old burial ground where associated remains may survive and which has a fine collection of very fine memorials.

The parish of Pitsligo was established by an Act of Parliament in 1633 from the existing parishes of Aberdour, Fraserburgh and Tyrie following a petition by Alexander Forbes of Pitsligo. It was to be the last parish erected with the Synod of Aberdeen. The church of Pitsligo was begun before the creation of the parish, perhaps as early as 1630, and was paid for by Lord Forbes of Pitsligo. The church was abandoned in 1890 with the congregation moving to the new church. The decision to construct a new building created a great controversy within the parish at the time, with civil unrest and an effigy of the minister being publicly burnt. The old church remained roofed until 1960.

The church is a typical post-reformation T-plan kirk, measuring about 18m E-W and 8m transversely, with a large aisle midway along the S elevation, which projects about 6m by 5m out from the main body of the kirk. The building is plain, with local rubble masonry, which still retains extensive trace of lime harl, and red sandstone margins to the window and doors. In contrast to the simplicity of the building, the W gable is surmounted by heavily ornamented bellcote which exhibits a mingling of Gothic and Renaissance features. Internally there existed east and west galleries, originally accessed by external stairs. These were removed and new interior stairs were built during major renovation in 1793. The S aisle, which was also accessed from an exterior stair, accommodated the burial vault of the Forbes family above which was a highly ornamental loft for Lord Pitsligo and his family. The timberwork for the loft was removed in 1890 and built into a aisle of the new church where it still survives.

The old kirkyard contains a very fine collection of gravestones dating from the early 17th century onwards.

The area to be scheduled includes the remains of the church and the extent of the old burial ground. It is irregular in shape and has maximum dimensions of 75m NE-SW and 58m transversely as marked in red on the attached map. All modern burial lairs still in use and the stretch of surviving boundary wall are excluded from the scheduling.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a very well preserved example of an early post-reformation church, which appears to have been constructed on a new site for a new parish in the early 17th century. The church is very typical of a number of churches built at this time with a T-plan, internal galleries, the main heritor's burial aisle with pew above and a ornemented belcote. The monument is also important in demonstrating the response to new forms of worship after the Reformation, such as the construction of burial enclosures and laird's lofts. The continued existence of the timberwork of the loft, even though it is not in situ, is a remarkable survival, and enhances the importance of the monument. In addition, the association of the monument with the Forbes of Pitsilgo family, fervent Jacobites, as were several of the ministers at Pitsligo, further adds to its importance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is recorded in the NMRS as NJ96NW 2.

Bibliography (includes):

Hay, G (1957) The architecture of Scottish post-Reformation churches, 1560-1843, Oxford, 54, 168, 191, 193, 198, 244.

MacGibbon and Ross, D and T (1887-92) The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v, Edinburgh, Vol.5, 178-80.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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