Ecclesgreig Old Church and Burial Ground, St Cyrus
National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 74500 63900, map
AddressKirkside, St Cyrus
Also known as:
- The Nether Kirkyard
This old burial ground and church site lies at the foot of tall cliffs overlooking an extensive area of sand dunes and grassland, which is now a nature reserve. There is a long history of worship at this site, which may date back to the 9th century and the Picts.
The common name of the site, Ecclesgreig, is said to mean 'Church of Grig'. Grig was a 9th century ruler of the Picts and is widely credited with establishing a church here. He is also known as Ciric, which is where St Cyrus is derived.
Documentary evidence of a church here only dates from the 1170s and hints at a monastic foundation here too. William The Lion granted the "Church and the Abbey land of Eglesgirg along with the Chapel of St Rule" to the Bishop of St Andrews. The church was later rebuilt and dedicated in 1242. The church fell out of use after 1632, when a new parish church was built in St Cyrus village.
The 19th century historian Andrew Jervise claims that St Cyrus is buried in the burial ground and that the church ruins were covered by sand and exposed again by erosion in c1790.
The site comprises a sub-rectangular walled burial ground (the eastern wall rebuilt in the 19th century). There are a number of burial enclosures and burial aisles, along with many gravestones of mostly 18th - 19th century date. There is now no trace of the church, although it is possible parts of the burial aisles were built using stone from the ruined church. The largest burial aisle is that of the Grahams of Morphie, a roofless rectangular building near the centre of the burial ground. In one corner of the burial ground is a small rubble-built watch house, still complete with stone slab roof, window and chimney. It dates to the early 19th century when precautions had to be taken against the theft of fresh bodies for medical research.
People / Organisations:
|Grig or Ciric||Ruler of Picts, possible founder of a church here||9th century|
|William The Lion||Granted the church here to the Bishop of St Andrews||11th century|
|Grahams of Morphie||Family who built the largest burial aisle on the site||19th century|
- Church granted to the Bishop of St Andrews (1170s)
- Church dedicated (1242)
- Church closed after new church built (1632)
- Church founded (9th century)
- Ruins unearthed from sand by erosion (c1790)
|Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline database||Reference: 1481|
|Canmore - Online database||View Canmore Report Online: NO76SW 2||Online digital aerial photographs available, taken by RCAHMS|
|Canmore - Online database||View Canmore Report Online: Canmore Id: 36352|
|The Medieval Religious Houses of Scotland: with an appendix on the houses in the Isle of Man||I Cowan and D Easson||1976||p48|
|The Statistical Account of Scotland||J Sinclair (ed)||1791-9||Vol. 11, p105-6|
|The New Statistical Account of Scotland||1845||Vol. 11, p292|
|The Object Name Book of the Ordnance Survey||Ordnance Survey||Book 18, p52|
|The history and traditions of the land of the Lindsays in Angus and Mearns, with notices of Alyth and Meigle||A Jervise||1853||p321|
|Memorials of Angus and the Mearns||A Jervise||1861||p27|
|Epitaphs and inscriptions from burial grounds and old buildings in the north-east of Scotland with historical, biographical, genealogical and antiquarian notes||A Jervise||1875-9||Vol. 1, p36|
|RCAHMS: The archaeological sites and monuments of South Kincardine, Kincardine and Deeside District, Grampian Region||RCAHMS||1982||p29|
|The Mearns of Old||J C Watt||1914||p131|