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Kincardinshire
Chapter 16. Architecture—(a) Ecclesiastical.


Though Scotland cannot claim to have originated a new and distinctive style of architecture, yet it can show a continuous series of ecclesiastical buildings, beginning with the simplest and rudest of monkish cells, extending through all the periods of mediaeval art. Of church architecture, however, as we now understand it, there was none during the first seven centuries. It really began about the tenth century, when the round towers first appeared.

Of ecclesiastical buildings now in ruins Kincardineshire has some very interesting examples. Cowie Church, or more correctly the Chapel of St Mary, picturesquely situated a little north of Stonehaven Bay, is an example of a simple oblong structure in the first pointed style. There arc three fine lancet-pointed windows of the thirteenth century in the cast gable, with a square window in the west. The chapel was consecrated in 1276, and was unroofed by ecclesiastical authority shortly before the Reformation on account of scandals.

At the Kil'ktown of Fetteresso the roofless ruins of the old church of Fetteresso stand upon a knoll which is one of the oldest ecclesiastical sites in the Mearns. • The ancient church was dedicated to a Celtic saint of the sixth century named Caran. The pointed doorway on the north side and parts of the adjacent walls belonged to the church which was consecrated by David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews, in 1246. Its belfry is a good example of the belfries to be seen in the north-east of Scotland.

The ruined church of St Fittick, about a mile southeast of Aberdeen, stands on the site of an early church which was granted by William the Lyon to his favourite Abbey of Arbroath, and remained attached to it till the Reformation.

The parish church of Arbuthnott, dedicated to St Ternan, is undoubtedly the most interesting piece of ecclesiastical architecture in Kincardineshire. One of the few existing pre-Refonnation churches in the north of Scotland, it was consecrated in 1242 by David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews. It is long and narrow, consisting of an aisleless nave and chancel, and what is known as the Arbuthnott aisle, which projects from the south side of the chancel. The Arbuthnott aisle—the most striking feature of the exterior—was built in 1505, the west gable of the nave with the circular bell-turret being added at the same time. The aisle is in two stories, the lower a vaulted chapel with an apsidal termination to the south. Within the apse lies a monumental effigy, probably that of James Arbuthnott, who died in 1521. On the side of the base are four shields, bearing the names of Stuart, Arbuthnott, and Douglas. The chancel is sharply pointed. Three fine stained-glass windows adorn the east gable of the chancel. The church was skilfully restored in 1890, after being accidently burned the previous year. About 1475 the vicar of the parish, James Sibbald, produced three service-books, to which the name of Arbuthnott is attached—a Missal, a Book of Hours, and a Psalter.

Another interesting church, which originally dates from the thirteenth century, is that of Kinneff. The present church, which has suffered from various restorations, has in the east gable a small Norman window, and five Gothic windows in the south wall. The historical interest of the church is even greater than its architectural interest. For it contains several mural monuments, one to Rev. James Granger and his wife Christian Fletcher, who preserved the “honours” of Scotland.

The parish church of Fordoun, a prominent object in the landscape, with its handsome square Gothic tower, nearly 100 ft. high, was erected in 1830, and is the successor of a very old church, which was demolished in 1787. Beside it is the small chapel of St Palladius, a modern restoration; but the traditions regarding this saint and his connection with the place as exemplified in chapel, well, and annual fair which bear his name, go back to the fifth century. Within the chapel is a sculptured stone which, according to Professor Stuart, is intended to commemorate the death of Kenneth III.

At Blairs, in Maryculter parish, the Roman Catholic College of St Mary stands conspicuous on a slope overlooking the valley of the Dee. The estate of Blairs was once the property of the Knights Templars. The college possesses a famous portrait of Mary Queen of Scots—an excellent likeness. It may have been painted from a miniature given by Mary on the morning of her execution, to Elizabeth Curie, one of her attendants, who bequeathed miniature and portrait to the Scots College at Douai. In the days of the French Revolution the portrait lay hid in a chimney to save it from the fury of the mob. In the background of the picture, left, there is a sketch of the execution; and, right, Elizabeth Curie appears.



 


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