Scheduled Monument

Auldearn, old parish chuchSM5418

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Crosses and carved stones: tombstone, Ecclesiastical: church
Local Authority
NH 91959 55569
291959, 855569


The monument comprises the remains of the medieval church of Auldearn and survives as a ruin with rendered and dressed stone walling, architectural stone carving, carved memorial stones, wall plaques and a large tomb chest. The church is located in the northern half of the village of Auldearn and is joined on its W side by the present church (built in 1757). The monument was first scheduled in 1992, but an incorrect area was defined in order to protect all of the archaeological remains; the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The church measures approximately 15.2 m from E to W by 7.8 m N to S over walls 0.7 m thick and under 3 m in height. The walls are constructed in coursed, dressed sandstone with some rubble. Part of the window detail retains its gothic styling. The building has been much altered: the W gable removed; the apex of the E gable has been capped off; and a memorial has blocked a twin lancet window, of which only the top is original. An entrance has been added to the E gable. The original entrance near the W end of the S wall is square-headed; to its W is a partly filled gothic lancet window. Near the E end of the N wall is a small credence niche. In the SE corner of the church is a large stone sepulchre, dated 1641, with armorial bearings for the family of Walter Kinnard. A wall memorial to Ihone Hay of Loch Loy is dated 1563.

The scheduled area is rectangular on plan, to include the remains described around and an area around in which associated evidence is likely to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Specifically excluded from the scheduling is the top layer of the gravel path running parallel and immediately to the S of the church's S wall.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural significance

The monument's archaeological and historic significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: The church, although ruined, retains much of its original architectural detail in the form of its structural walls, dressed and carved stone detail and in its later use as a burial ground, over 30 gravemarkers, wall-plaques, memorial stones and a large decorated tomb chest. It is a well-preserved archaeological site and representative of pre-Reformation architecture seen throughout Scotland. It has the potential to provide high quality archaeological evidence of medieval ecclesiastical architecture and religious practice.

Contextual characteristics:

The monument is the product of the medieval church in Scotland and demonstrates the ecclesiastical organisation of the church, the religious beliefs of Scots and the effects of the Reformation. Local families, including the Hays of Lochloy and the Dunbars of Boath, subsequently took it over as their burial place.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular medieval ecclesiastical architecture, church organisation and religious practices. This potential is enhanced by its relatively good preservation and known historical period of use. The loss of this example would affect our ability to understand the Medieval and Reformation Periods in Scotland.



RCAHMS record the monument as NH95NW 6.01; Highland Council SMR as NH95NW0006. RCAHMS record the adjoining (current) parish church as NH95NW 6.00. The current parish church is Category B listed and this designation embraces the old parish church.


Farrell S, 2001, Auldearn Churchyard Highland, Discovery Excav Scot, 2, 2001, 51 Edinburgh. Council for Scottish Archaeology.

Gifford, J, 1992, The Buildings of Scotland. Highland and Islands. London. Penguin.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 26/05/2024 21:54