Cortachy Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 39560 59720, map




Cortachy Parish Church was built in 1828 by David Paterson on the site of an older, medieval church (see separate site Cortachy Old Parish Church). It stands on a small rise on the side of a steep river valley. It is surrounded by a small, curved graveyard. The Gothic church was built with red ashlar sandstone and encorporates a 17th century burial aisle, which was rebuilt in 1828.

Description (exterior)

The west gable faces the entrance driveway and its main feature is a single, very large pointed-arch window with simple tracery and diamond panes of glass. The gable has narrow, stepped corner buttresses and the gable's skews have decorative stone ballustrades. The apex of the gable has a distinctive crocketted finial.


The east elevation is divided into three bays and has stepped buttresses with crocketted pinnacles. There is a castellated parapet with a stringcourse below. In each bay is a large pointed-arch window with simple stone tracery and diamond glass panes. Two small doors at the west and east ends gave entry to the church nave originally, although the western door has since been blocked inside. The north elevation mirrors the east, except it has a single-storey porch and vestry, again built in ashlar, which was added at the end of the 19th century.


The east end of the church has a smaller pointed-arch traceried window set above a stringcourse. It has corner buttresses but a simpler skew parapet compared to the west gable. The apex has a simple stone cross finial. Attached to the gable is the single storey, semi-octagonal burial aisle, which was rebuilt when the current church was constructed. It is built in ashlar sandstone, but a yellow or grey stone, which contrasts with the red sandstone of the rest of the church. The burial aisle has pointed-arch windows and doorway, all with hoodmoulds. The wallhead has a castellated parapet and there are small pinnacled buttresses at the angles. The north wall of the aisle has an inscription stone set in the remains of an aumbry or sacrament house, dated 1614.

Description (interior)

The interior is orientated east-west with the pulpit and sanctuary at the west end and a gallery to the east. The main entry into the nave is through the later porch and vestry extension to the north.


The pulpit dominates the west end of the nave. It is wooden and has simply-decorated panelling. Small staircases flank the pulpit and give access to the platform and desk area, and there is a back board and elaborate sounding board, with carved finials and spire. In front of the pulpit is a wooden, panelled communion table, font, lectern, electric organ and Elder's chairs, all contained within the raised sanctuary.


The nave has original wooden pews, arranged with two aisles. Towards the rear (east) of the nave is a large gallery, supported by substantial wooden uprights and beams, which feature simple quatrefoil-carved panels to create pointed-arch arcading. A staircase in the south-east corner gives access to the gallery seating. The gallery has a simple panelled front. 

People / Organisations:

David PatersonArchitect1828


  • Church built on site of medieval structure (1828)
  • Vestry and porch built to the north (late 19th century)

Archive References:

Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 4824B-listed
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: NO35NE 2:00
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 4535

Bibliographic References:

The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation ChurchesG Hay1957p245
The New Statistical Account of Scotland1845Vol. XI, p447 and 451
The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland from the Earliest Church Times to the 17th CenturyD MacGibbon and T Ross1896-7Vol. 5, p361
The Statistical Account of Scotland1791-9Vol. 10, p574
RCAHMS: The Archaeological sites and Monuments of Central AngusRCAHMS1984p8
Angus or Forfarshire; The Land and People, Descriptive and HistoricalA J Warden1880-5Vo. 3, p109-111