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Birnie

Historic Scottish Church

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History

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.

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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).

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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.

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Relics

Rannel/Coronach Bell probably about 1000 years old. May have been a castle bell adapted to use in the Church. Reputed to have been blessed by Pope, not discovered which one! Thought to be Celtic in origin, and a hand bell, 6 3/8 inches diameter probably cast about 1600.

The western Birdcage Belfry dated 1734 contains a bell about 18 inches in diameter which bears an incised inscription -W McKinnan, Aberdeen July 211813. Font undated but ancient. Pedestal of font gift of the Aberdeen Ecclesiological Society in 1887.

Hairy Bible dated 1773 bound in calfskin.

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Large stone in church yard near the War Memorial to the dead of two World Wars, may in fact be a Pictish stone.

Memorials:

George Gordon, Minister of the Parish.Interest in natural history and science.Great advances in knowledge in the 19thcentury.

William Saunders 1663-1670 Minister ofthe Parish, died aged about 40 years.

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