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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.

Birnie Kirk (Church of Scotland), including Burial Ground and Gatepiers and excluding Scheduled Monument No 2781 'Birnie Parish Kirk, old graveyard and symbol stone', BirnieLB2294

Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 26/01/1971
  • Last Date Amended: 26/08/2015


  • Local Authority: Moray
  • Planning Authority: Moray
  • Parish: Birnie

National Grid Reference

  • NGR: NJ 20654 58718
  • Coordinates: 320654, 858718


Probably 12th century, variously repaired and altered including rebuilding of west gable (and shortening of nave of church) in 1734 and major restoration in 1891 by A Marshall MacKenzie. Alteration to windows in south elevation by John Wright, architect, Elgin, circa 1975. Simple rectangular nave with rectangular chancel at east gable. Tooled squared rubble, ashlar dressings. Off-centre round-headed entrance in south elevation lit by 3 later round-headed windows. Narrow south entrance to chancel with chamfered margins and under re-set cusped medieval light. Chancel lit by single round-headed lancet in north and south walls. Mural sundial. Blocked pointed-headed entrance in north elevation which has no windows, except chancel lancets. Birdcage bellcote at west apex dated 1734; slate roof.

Interior: simple interior; tooled ashlar walls; 1891 timber ceiling. Plain Romanesque chancel arch supported by engaged columns with cushion capitals. Deeply splayed round-headed lancets in north and south chancel walls. Various mural memorials including Sanders memorial dated 1670; pedimented country Jacobean plaque flanked by small engaged columns supporting winged souls as caryatids. Simple hewn stone basin font, probably 12th century, supported by thick circular stem with spiral fluting on square base (stem and base dated from 1884-5).

Roughly square burial ground enclosed by coped rubble wall. Various tombstones of 17th, 18th and subsequent dates.

Pair of plain square tooled ashlar gatepiers with pair cast iron spearhead carriage gates.

Statement of Special Interest

Ecclesiastical building in use as such. Birnie church is said to have been an early seat of the Bishop of Moray before the foundation of Elgin cathedral in 1224, and is the earliest church in continuous worship in the District. 1690 mural monument inscribed Here lies under this pulpit the corps of Mr Wm Sanders Lait minister of this Paroch, who deceased the 13 May 1670 and of Katherine and Elspet Sanders his children . The memorial may have been resited to the north wall after restoration of 1891. Plinth and stem of font gifted to church in 1885 by Ecclesiological Society of Aberdeen, who visited the church during 1884. This pedestal is made from Auchindoir sandstone.

The ground beneath Birnie Kirk is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 for its archaeological importance. Significant upstanding and below-ground archaeological remains may survive as part of and in addition to the structures and features described above.

'Birnie Parish Kirk, old graveyard and symbol stone' is Scheduled Monument No 2781 and is excluded from the listing.

Listed building record and statutory address updated in 2015. Previously listed as 'St Brendon s Church of Scotland, Birnie Parish Church, Burial Ground, and Gatepiers.'



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 16410

Ordnance Survey (Surveyed 1870, Published 1874) Elgin Sheet XII.7. 25 inches to the mile. 1st Edition. London: Ordnance Survey.

Statistical Account (1791-99) Parish of Birnie Vol.9. p.160.

New Statistical Account (1834-45) Parish of Birnie, Vol. 13. 85.

MacGibbon, D. and Ross, T (1896)The Ecclesiastical Architecture Of Scotland. Edinburgh: D. Douglas. pp. 218-220.

Watson, W. H. (1985) A Marshall Mackenzie, Architect In Aberdeen. Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen p. 52.

Cramond, W. (1903) Church of Birnie. Elgin.

Moray And Nairn Express, 10 March 1885 p.4

Further information from (accessed 16 January 2015)

Link to Canmore Record

About Designations

Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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Printed: 22/10/2016 14:23