St Mary's Kirk at Auchindoir, between Rhynie and Lumsden, is one of the Scotland's finest surviving medieval parish churches. The main doorway is early Romanesque, and there is a well-preserved early 16th-century sacrament house.

St Mary's is rare for a Scottish church in that it has survived into the modern era without any major alterations. Although surviving medieval churches are reasonably common throughout the country, almost all were significantly altered during and after the Reformation, often so heavily transformed that it is difficult to see their medieval origins.

St Mary's Kirk was built in the early 13th century and served as the place of worship for the nearby motte and bailey castle, next to a gorge to the south-east of the church. First mentioned in 1236, the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In 1514 the church was elevated to a prebend of King's College in Aberdeen, thereby receiving the income of a canon. It was subsequently used as a parish church, surviving the Reformation largely intact. However, in the 17th century it was redecorated, with most of the lancet windows replaced with larger windows.

In 1810, the church ceased to be used as a place of worship and the old timber work was sold publicly.

The church has been described as one of Northern Scotland's finest specimens of 13th-century First-Pointed architecture. It had already lost its roof at the beginning of the 19th century but the walls of rubble and freestone quoins remain intact. The nave leads directly into the chancel without any structural division. Alterations were made in the first half of the 16th century and during the 17th century when doors and windows were added. The belfry on the west gable dates from 1664.



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Founded: 13th century
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Elli Fink (2 years ago)
Very interesting
Michelle A (3 years ago)
A beautiful drive to the small kirk. Nice spot for a few photos and history.
Kenny Littlejohn (3 years ago)
chh (3 years ago)
This a beautiful medieval church nestled in a patch of woodland in the quiet countryside, where on a sunny day you're surrounded by birdsong and the faint sound of the river below. The church was in use until the 19th Century when it was replaced by a new church to the east - if coming from the main road (from Rhynie) you will pass the new church, also a roofless ruin, on your way to the medieval church...don't make the easy mistake of confusing the new church for the old one!!! You'll know you're at the right place if you see the stunning Norman arched doorway, with rows of dogtooth /chevron patterning. There are lots of interesting features dotted around the church, look out for some beautiful carved stonework. There are a couple of Historic Scotland interpretation boards with a little info on the site. It's a lovely contemplative place. Not wheelchair accessible. There is parking for 1-2 cars just before and just after the church, at roadside so beware of traffic. Lots of interesting gravestones too. Free to visit.
Rafael Waldo Delgado Doblas (5 years ago)
Since this was part of historic Scotland we was hopping to see something interesting. After 3 hours from edimburgh we ourselves in the middle of nowhere where with looking to small and old church. The place is nice but doesn't deserve the trip. Expecially because there are much better places in Scotland
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