Historic Scottish Church
Believed to have been built on a site occupied by the Celtic Church associated with St. Brendan the Navigator, an Irish saint. Reputed to have been the, first cathedral in the diocese. (Spynie, Kinnedar and Birnie all important churches then). Present church built about 1140 during the reign of David 1st. The 4th Bishop of Moray, Simon de Tonci, who died in 1184 is thought to be buried at Birnie. The Reformation was late in Scotland, about 1560.
Patrick Hepburn, the last Roman Catholic Bishop, harboured his nephew, James Earl of Bothwell, in 1566 and he resigned these and other lands to Earl of Moray, Regent.
The building is plain. There is a Norman Arch between the chancel and nave. Note there is no entrance porch as is common in other kirks. The fabric of the building was altered in 1734 when the west gable was rebuilt and three windows added to the South were enlarged. The repairs cost £905.0.6d (Scots Ls).
The nave is now 41 ft by 28 ft and the chancel 16 ft by 13 ft. It suffered a loss of two feet in the renovation. Note there are no windows in the chancel to the East, which suggests a similarity to the Early Christian Basilican Churches of Italy. Further repairs were necessary in 1890.