Dunnottar Church & Kirkyard
Sir William Keith chose this spot above the Carron water for his church. It is believed to have been the first church on this site, although St Ninian may have founded a church built 0.5 km to the south, close to where Dunnottar House once stood. Sir Willaim’s church was dedicated in 1394 to St Brede (StBridget), an Irish saint who came to the Mearns with her sisters around 503AD. In 1593 the 5th Earl Marischal, George Keith, replaced his ancestor’s church on a new building on the same site.. This in turn was replaced in 1782 by a much larger church. In 1869 a north transept was added and in 1903 the church was completely restored and extended..Parts of the 1782 church remain incorporated in the present buildings.
The small stone building to the south of the church is the Marischal Aisle, built in 1582 by George Keith 5th Earl marischal as a place of burial for his family records suggest that the Isle was attached to the previous church and that there may have been an upper story opening into the church as a private loft for the Keith’s. This top story would have been demolished along with the church in 1782 and the vault was then left un-roofed , The aisle fell into disrepair and trees flourished within it until 1914 when Aberdeen university roofed and repaired it. As a tribute to George Keith, who had founded Marischal College in1593.
George keith died in 1623 and was interned within the aisle. His descendants were buried alongside him but no memorials are evident, except this University plaque with its reference to the Rock of Dunottar, seat of the Keith’s
“The hoarse sea winds and caverns of Dunnottar singing vague requiem to his honourable line and him in the imaginations of some few”
To the rear of the Marischal Aisle is the ‘Covenanters’ Stone’ or ‘Martyrs Stone’ a memorial to the Covenanters’ 122 men and 45 women who where cruelly imprisoned in the ‘Whigs Vault’ of Dunnottar castle in 1685 and died as a result of the imprisonment. (The stone was repaired by Robert Paterson in 1796). The stone reads:
HERE LYES JOHN STOT ATCHISON JAMES RUSSELL & WILLIAM BROUN AND ONE WHOSE NAME WEE HAVE NOT GOTTEN AND TWO WOMEN WHOSE NAMES ALSO WEE KNOW NOT AND TWO WHO PERISHED COMING DOUNE THE ROCK ONE WHOSE NAME WAS JAMES WATSON THE OTHER NOT KNOWN WHO ALL DIED PRISONERS IN DUNNOTTAR CASTLE ANNO 1685 FOR THEIR ADHERENCE TO THE WORD OF GOD AND SCOTLAND’S COVENANTED WORK OF REFORMATION REV JJ CH J2 VERSE.
The missing names are John White, William Breadie, Marie Gipsone and Jeane Muffet. (S. Bruce Jan 2008).
The Covenanter Stone at Dunnottar Church
Here lyes John Stot, James Atchison, James Russell, and William Broun and one whose name wee have not gotten. And two women whose names also wee know not. And two who perished comeing doune the rock. One whose name The other not known. Who all died prisoners in Dunottar Castle anno 1685 for their adherence to the word of God and Scotlands Covenanted work of Reformation. Rev: 11ch: 12 Verse
To the rear of the Marischal Aisle is the ‘Covenanters’ Stone’ or ‘Martyrs Stone’ a memorial to the Covenanters’ 122 men and 45 women who where cruelly imprisoned in the ‘Whigs Vault’ of Dunnottar castle in 1685 and died as a result of the imprisonment. (The stone was repaired by Robert Paterson in 1796)
Derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of RCAHMS (www.rcahms.gov.uk)