St Meddan's Church, Fintray

National Grid Reference (NGR): NJ 87180 15570, map


Address

Cothall, Fintray
Aberdeenshire
AB21 0HU
Scotland

Introduction

This fascinating church ruin lies hidden among trees on a south-facing terrace overlooking the meandering River Don, and the runway of Aberdeen Airport can be seen in the distance. The site is located on the north slope of the Don valley and is surrounded by large arable fields. 

The medieval church was in use until 1703, when a new church was built in nearby Hatton of Fintray. It's exact date of construction is unclear but it was one of a number of churches in the locality that were granted to the abbey of Lindores (Fife) by its founder, David Earl of Huntingdon, between 1191 and 1195. 

The surrounding graveyard is now completely overgrown and tree-covered, but a number of interesting medieval gravestones can still be found, including one with a dagger and cross.


Description (exterior)

The church was aligned east-west and is surrounded by an oval-shaped graveyard. The ruined remains of the church were built into a new burial enclosure for the Forbes of Fintray family, likely in the later 18th century. The rectangular burial enclosure is built more or less on the footprint of the medieval church, with the remaining wall sections at the east end bbuilt into the new masonry. The enclosure is built from coursed granite blocks with coping stones on top, and measures approximately 20m by 8m. At the same point in the centre of the north and south walls are gateways into the enclosure, each with a metal gate. 

 

The remains of the medieval structure consist of a length of the north wall, part of the east gable and a small section of the south wall. The church was built using random rubble, mostly granite. Towards the east end of the 7m of surviving north wall is a medieval sacrament house still in situ. This consists of a red sandstone carved plaque or tablet, which has a low relief depiction of Christ on the cross flanked by two figures. The section below this contains the locker opening, which is framed by incised lines. The east gable has been reduced to the height of the other enclosure walls but has no openings or other features. 


Description (interior)

The interior of the burial enclosure and ruined church is now completely overgrown and not maintained. There are a number of gravestones, including a table tomb monument. 


People / Organisations:

NameRoleDatesNotes
David, Earl of HuntingdonGranted church to Lindores Abbey1191-5
Forbes of Fintray familyConverted the ruined church into a private burial enclosureLate 18th century

Events:

  • Church granted to Lindores Abbey (1191 to 1195)
  • Church abandoned (After 1703)
  • Ruins converted into burial enclosure (Late 18th century)

Archive References:

NameReferenceNotes
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 524
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: RCAHMS NJ81NE 11
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 19445

Bibliographic References:

NameAuthorDateNotes
Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie, an illustrated architectural guideIan Shepherd2006p170
The Parishes of Medieval Scotland, Scottish Record Society Vol 93I B Cowan1967p66
Some old crosses and unlettered sepulchral monuments in Aberdeenshire, in Proceedings of the Society of AntiquariesJ Ritchie1911p337-43
Fasti ecclesiae Scoticanae: the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the ReformationH Scott et al (eds.)1915-61Vol. 6, p56