Udny Church Morthouse

National Grid Reference (NGR): NJ 88010 26290, map


Udny Green
AB41 7RS


This rare and quite striking building is a 19th century mort-house, a structure used to safely house bodies awaiting burial and protect them from the so-called 'body snatchers' common in Edinburgh and some parts of Aberdeenshire in the early to mid 19th century. It stands in the burial ground of Udny Green, a small rural village. It was built just to the east of the original parish church, of which no trace now survives. 

Mort-houses were never places of worship but were closely associated with the church and graveyard and the community they served. 


The mort-house is a small round building, constructed with rough ashlar granite blocks and with a conical slate roof. There is a thick oak door in the west face, protected with metal bars and with a large metal lock mechanism. Inside the coffins were placed on a revolving platform which was a metre off the ground. Mort-houses, although relatively common in rural Aberdeenshire, are usually smaller, simpler rectangular buildings, which makes this large round building a rare and important structure.

People / Organisations:

John MarrDesigned the building1832
Alex WallaceBuilder1832
Thomas SmithWright1832


  • Built (1832)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 4006
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 15951B-listed

Bibliographic References:

The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation ChurchesG Hay1957p237