Auchindoir, St Mary's Church

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Alternative Names Auchindoir, Old Parish Church
Site Type CHURCH
Canmore ID 17230
Site Number NJ42SE 1
NGR NJ 47766 24559
Former Region GRAMPIAN
Former District GORDON
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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St Mary's Church, 13th century. This serene country kirkyard forms an important early group with the adjacent earthen castle motte, similar to the juxtaposition of Cunninghar motte and the old kirk of Midmar (qv). Early 16th-century
remodelling, 17th-century details. Unroofed 1810-11, the kirk is a long pink rectangle with, on south side, a fine Transitional Norman doorway with a chevron-moulded hood and nook shafts with bell capitals. A striking 16th-century sacrament house, shaped like a monstrance, is inserted into a lancet window in the north wall; also a Gordon of Craig armorial plaque of 1557 and a good grave slab of 1580. Ball-capped gatepiers; kirkyard walls 18th century.

Taken from "Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie - An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Ian Shepherd, 2006. Published by the Rutland Press

Architectural Notes




National Lib. - Trans Aberdeen Eccles Soc. 1886

Aberdeen Public Library, reference Dept.
Simpson, w.D. Craig Castle and the Kirk of Auchindor

1" plan, elevation and section of doorway. 3" elevation and section of Sacrament House. Measured and drawn by P Keir. Measured with J.C. Richardson. 1934-35. Students of Aberdeen School of Architecture. Drawings stored in Aberdeen - see architectural catalogue

Plans: Proceedings of the Society of Antiquities of Scotland, 1929-30 - plan, measured drawing of sacrament house and details.

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Archaeological Notes

NJ42SE 1.00 47766 24559

NJ42SE 1.01 47804 24545

For successor North Parish Church (NJ 4831 2481) and parish church (NJ 4752 2204), see NJ42SE 26 and NJ42SE 27 respectively.

(NJ 4776 2454) Church (NR) (In ruin)
OS 6" map, Aberdeenshire, 2nd ed., (1902)

The church of Auchindoir was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin or St Mary and is mentioned from 1236 onwards. It is described by Simpson as one of the finest specimens of 13th century transitional or early First Pointed architecture surviving in North Scotland exemplified by the south doorway. The structure was ruinous in 1809 and the surviving walls are of rubble with freestone quoins. There is no structural division between the nave and chancel. The church was altered in the first half of the 16th century and at some period in the 17th century and doors and windows have been inserted. There is a 1664 belfry on the west gable and a number of 16th century and 17th century inscriptions. A 'sacrament house' is a fine example of early 16th century work. Panelling from the church is preserved in the farmhouse and at Clova House.
About 100 yards to the west of the church was a Well of Our Lady or St Mary's Well the water of which was used to cure toothache.
A Jervise 1871; A Jervise 1879; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1896; H Scott 1926; W D Simpson 1930; W D Simpson 1932.

1811; original pulpit; walls of medieval kirk extant.
G Hay 1957.

Auchindoir (Aberdeen, Mar). The church of Davachyndore was united to the prebend on Invernochty in 1361 by Bishop Alexander at the instance of Thomas, earl of Mar, and so continued until its disjunction in 1513/1514, when it was erected, both in parsonage and vicarage, into a prebend of King's College, Aberdeen, the cure thereafter to be a vicarage pensionary.
I B Cowan 1967.

St Mary's Church, as described and planned. Now roofless, otherwise in good order.
No trace could be found of St Mary's Well, 100 yards to the west of the church, but according to Mrs A R Barlass (Craig Castle, Aberdeenshire) a well at NJ 4722 2481 is known as St Mary's Well and is reputed locally to have holy properties. It is carved out of a piece of stone to form a basin, c.0.6 metres by c.0.4 metres by c.0.4 metres deep, which is fed by water from a natural spring.
Revised at 1/2500.
Visited by OS (RL) 27 September 1967.

St Mary's Church, Auchindoir. This simple rectangular church, set on a peaceful green mound, was built in the later 13th century as the parish church of Auchindoir, at a time when great efforts were being made to consolidate the parochial system. The S doorway is a fine example of work from this period, the high point of Scottish medieval stone-mason work. Its hood moulding is decorated with dogtooth carvings that surround the plain round-headed mouldings of the opening. The latter are carried on 'handsome crocket caps' and narrow shafts.
The church was remodelled in the early 16th century and a fine sacrament house, carved to look like a monstrance, inserted into a lancet window.
I A G Shepherd 1986.

Rescheduled as St Mary's Church, Mote Hill and Dovecot.
Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 3 March 1999.

Bellcote dated 1664 within church together with Gordon coat of arms of 1557 and slab of 1580. Six panels from pulpit preserved at Clova House. Site of well: believed to cure toothache.
R and F Morris 1982; NMRS, MS/712/48.

A gravestone in the burial-ground commemorates the death of William Smith, who was accidentally killed at the quarries on Quarry Hill (NJ42NE 103) in 1853, and his wife Margaret Sim who died in 1860 aged 48.
Information from RCAHMS (ARG), 6 December 2005.

External Links

Scottish Church Heritage Research (SCHR)

Scottish Church Heritage Research (SCHR)

Mason's Marks Project

Aberdeenshire Historic Environment Record

Books and References

Cowan, I B (1967) The parishes of medieval Scotland, Scot Rec Soc, vol.93 Edinburgh
Page(s): 9 Held at RCAHMS C.3.2.COW

Fawcett, R (2002) Scottish medieval churches: architecture and furnishings, Stroud
Page(s): 36, 108, 262-263 Held at RCAHMS F.5.31.FAW

Hay, G (1957a) The architecture of Scottish post-Reformation churches, 1560-1843, Oxford
Page(s): 116, 170, 188, 242 Held at RCAHMS F.5.31.HAY

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