Tarland Old Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NJ 48180 04380, map


The Square
AB34 4TX


Tarland Old Parish Church is located in the centre of Tarland village, just east of The Square, the old market area. A church has been on this site since at least the 12th century, when an existing church here was granted to the Priory of St Andrews by the Earl of Mar. The ruined church that survives today was built in 1762 and was closed when a new church opened in 1870. There is an extensive graveyard surrounding the church, which is roughly square-shaped. 

Description (exterior)

The church remains are rectangular on plan, measuring around 20m by 5m. Large blocks of granite were used to construct the church, with better quality, tooled stones used on the south elevation. 


The principle south elevation is long and low and has numerous round-arched openings. It is apparent that the elevation was originally symmetrical, with two doorways and four windows, but the eastern door has been converted into a window at some point to leave just one doorway. The surviving doorway, towards the west end, has a thick stone lintel in situ with an arched opening above, suggesting that there was a fanlight above the door. The bottom of the east door has been built up with granite to convert it into a window, leaving straight edges where the newer masonry has been inserted. 


The west gable has a large rectangular bellcote made of ashlar masonry. It has decorative finials and a tall ball finial in the centre. Lower down in the gable is a single round-arched window. The opposite east gable has a round-arched window that matches that in the west. The upper east gable has not survived above the window. The north elevation is featureless but survives to wallhead height.

Description (interior)

The interior has been turfed over and is regularly cut and maintained by the local authority. There are a number of later burials and gravestones inside the shell of the building. 


  • Church built (1762)
  • Church closed (1870)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 842
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 16242B-listed
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: RCAHMS NJ40SE 14
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 17011

Bibliographic References:

Epitaphs and inscriptions from burial grounds and old buildings in the north-east of Scotland with historical, biographical, genealogical and antiquarian notesA Jervise1875-9Vol. 2, p265
Deeside and The Mearns: An Illustrated Architectural GuideJ Geddesp136
Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae: the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the ReformationH Scott et al (eds.)1915-61Vol. 6, p113