St Machar's Cathedral

Aberdeen, United Kingdom

St. Machar is said to have been a companion of St. Columba on his journey to Iona. A fourteenth-century legend tells how God told Machar to establish a church where a river bends into the shape of a bishop's crosier before flowing into the sea. The River Don bends in this way just below where the Cathedral now stands. According to legend, St Machar founded a site of worship in Old Aberdeen in about 580. Machar's church was superseded by a Norman cathedral in 1131, shortly after David I transferred the See from Mortlach to Aberdeen. Almost nothing of that original cathedral survives; a lozenge-decorated base for a capital supporting one of the architraves can be seen in the Charter Room in the present church.

At the end of the 13th century Bishop Henry Cheyne decided to extend the church, but the work was interrupted by the Scottish Wars of Independence. Cheyne's progress included piers for an extended choir at the transept crossing. These pillars, with decorated capitals of red sandstone, are still visible at the east end of the present church. Though worn by exposure to the elements after the collapse of the cathedral's central tower, these capitals are among the finest stone carvings of their date to survive in Scotland. Bishop Alexander Kininmund II demolished the Norman cathedral in the late 14th century, and began the nave, including the granite columns and the towers at the western end. Bishop Henry Lichtoun completed the nave, the west front and the northern transept, and made a start on the central tower. Bishop Ingram Lindsay completed the roof and the paving stones in the later part of the 15th century. Further work was done over the next fifty years by Thomas Spens, William Elphinstone and Gavin Dunbar; Dunbar is responsible for the heraldic ceiling and the two western spires.

The ruined transepts and crossing are under the care of Historic Scotland, and contain an important group of late medieval bishops' tombs, protected from the weather by modern canopies. The Cathedral is chiefly built of outlayer granite. On the unique flat panelled ceiling of the nave (first half of the 16th century) are the heraldic shields of the contemporary kings of Europe, and the chief earls and bishops of Scotland.

The Cathedral is a fine example of a fortified kirk, with twin towers built in the fashion of fourteenth-century tower houses. Their walls have the strength to hold spiral staircases to the upper floors and battlements. The spires which presently crown the towers were added in the 15th century.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 14th century
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Paul Howarth (2 months ago)
Amazing interior, equal to the outside. The setting is magical and the crowning glory are the staff very friendly and ready to help with information. Could spend all day walking around the cathedral reading the epitaphs and dedications. Go up to the gallery for ghe best view of the ceiling and windows.
Manu (4 months ago)
My favorite place. I used to walk through here almost everyday. It's incredibly beautiful. Inside the cathedral is beautiful, peaceful and Very serene. The immense age of the building and grounds give an intense feeling. It has undergone wonderful restoration and full functionality both as a cathedral and museum.
Marco Ganni (4 months ago)
Beautiful, well-preserved church with an old cemetery. Indescribably beautiful wood panelling on the ceiling. Great history. Free admission. Well worth a visit.
Miyamoto Musashi (4 months ago)
Holy impressive ancient church Cathedral, will impress history enthusiasts and spiritually minded. Very serene inside, though some understandably suspicious staff guarding the collection of art, tapestries and stone carvings. The immense age of the building and grounds is only matched by its wonderful restoration and full functionality both as a cathedral and museum. Probably slightly traumatic if you were brought up religious or are a dirty heathen but gorgeous nonetheless.
Raw Vegan Guru (5 months ago)
Absolutely stunning Cathedral and fascinating history. The architecture is beautiful and surreal. This is a walk into ancient Scotland history. My tour guide, Neil, was kind and incredibly knowledgeable of this cathedrals' vast timelines. A great choice while in Aberdeen
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Trencín Castle

Trenčín Castle is relatively large renovated castle, towering on a steep limestone cliff directly above the city of Trenčín. It is a dominant feature not only of Trenčín, but also of the entire Považie region. The castle is a national monument.

History of the castle cliff dates back to the Roman Empire, what is proved by the inscription on the castle cliff proclaiming the victory of Roman legion against Germans in the year 179.

Today’s castle was probably built on the hill-fort. The first proven building on the hill was the Great Moravian rotunda from the 9th century and later there was a stone residential tower, which served to protect the Kingdom of Hungary and the western border. In the late 13th century the castle became a property of Palatine Matúš Csák, who became Mr. of Váh and Tatras.

Matúš Csák of Trenčín built a tower, still known as Matthew’s, which is a dominant determinant of the whole building.