Old Deer Old Kirk
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Does the kirk stand on a 6th century monastery?
The Old Kirk probably dates to the 15th century, but its roots go back much further in the mists of time. Traditional scholarship suggests that the kirk was established on the site of a Culdee settlement established by St Columba and St Drostan around 580AD. That early foundation later became Deer Abbey, the ruins of which are located about half a mile away, on the banks of South Ugie Water. The church apparently belonged to the abbey from 1219, when the abbey was founded. The first written record, however, comes from 1256, when 20 marks from the church were granted to Aberdeen Cathedral as a prebend. The cathedral maintained the kirk, assigned a parish chaplain, and received revenues from the vicarage and parsonage. Local tradition suggests as dedication to St Drostan, but there appears to be no historical evidence to support this dedication.
The Old Kirk is a simple building, composed of only a nave and chancel, separated by the oriiginal medieval chancel arch. Though the roof is gone, the walls are still standing to their full height, though the east end of the nave has been truncated. The west end of the nave was removed to make way for the new parish church in 1798. There are a pair of medieval windows facing each other across the narrow nave, and a medieval piscina beneath a trefoil arch is set into the wall beneath the south window. A similar piscina is to the right of the chancel arch, and an aumbry cupboard is near the north window.
I habve a confession to make; I actually stopped by the church in Old Deer because I had read somewhere that there might be a carved Pictish stone there. I searched around the churchyard and didn't see anything that looked carved, though there was a very large boulder just inside the churchyard wall. The vicar came by as I was engaged in this fruitless pursuit, and he didn't know anything about a carved stone either. However, in the course of my search for the stone I poked my nose behind the church and came face to face (or should that be face to wall?) with the Old Kirk.
I was inrugued by the old monuments and the obvious medieval stonework, so took photos of everything and determined to learn more about the roofless old building when I could. I'm more intrigued now; I wish I'd read the connection between the Old Kirk and the abbey before I visited! The church is certainly a simple building, and the remains are not extensive, but the monuments are intruguing, and the association with 6th century saints makes it all the more appealing!
About Old Deer Old Kirk
Address: Abbey Street, Old Deer, Grampian, Scotland, AB42 5LN
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: At the crossroads of the B9029 and B9030 in the centre of Old Deer, which is west of Mintlaw.
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Aberdeenshire Farming Museum - 0.2 miles (Museum)
Deer Abbey - 0.7 miles (Abbey)
Aikey Brae Stone Circle - 1.4 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Loudon Wood Stone Circle - 1.7 miles (Prehistoric Site)
White Cow Wood Cairn - 3.3 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Strichen Stone Circle - 4.9 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Culsh Memorial - 6.1 miles (Historic Building)
Berrybrae Stone Circle - 6.6 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Nearest Accommodation to Old Deer Old Kirk:
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Tourist Information Centre
Museum of Scottish Lighthouses
Kinnaird Head, Castle Terrace
Tel: 01346 518315