The Barhams are en route to Orkney. En route we spent some time in the stunning Bowes Museum, spent a night in East Kilbride, then (Thursday 23 June 2022) continued north and enjoyed the gardens and cafe of the wonderful Crathes Castle.
Then we continued north and north of Lumsden I turned up the B9002 to visit St Mary’s church, Auchindoir at NJ477245. At Crathes I had picked up an excellent leaflet “The Historic Churches Trail, a guide to 12 of the best historic churches in Aberdeenshire. Somewhat ironic that the “best historic churches” in the county are all ruins – the Scots seem to have far fewer problems in taking the roofs off and leaving them to be picturesque ruins than we English do. It is a lovely ruin in the care of Historic Scotland.
St Mary’s Kirk was founded in the late 1200s or early 1300s, and many of its medieval features are well-preserved. It was a simple rectangular building, divided into a nave and chancel by a wooden partition inside. It features a fine south doorway with dog-tooth moulding around the hood, capitals carved with foliage and moulded bases. This was the main entrance for the laity. There was a less ostentatious door opposite, and a priests door leading into the chancel.
At the east end there is a sacrament house, paid for by King’s College rector and Prebendary Alexander Spittal in the early 1500s. Built into the north wall, this was a cupboard designed as an appropriate storage space for the wafer believed to become the body of Christ during transubstantiation. It’s carved to resemble a large monstrance – a vessel in which the host would be kept and displayed. It was made redundant during the Protestant Reformation of 1560, and the church was altered to make it suitable for reformed worship. The pulpit was moved to the centre of the south wall and the east gable was reconstructed in 1638, and a belfry was erected in 1664.
There is an interesting selection of memorials in the church and outside. The church remained in use until 1810, when a new church was built 500m away. That is now also a ruin. Beautiful spaces in our post-Christian country.
We spent the night in Elgin Premier Inn, and on Friday visited Huntley Bookshop and Castle, the Keith and Dufftown Railway, and had a rather depressing visit to Elgin town itself. On Saturday we drove north to Orkney.