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Scalan, Roman Catholic Seminary

Theological College (18th Century)

Site Name Scalan, Roman Catholic Seminary

Classification Theological College (18th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Braes Of Glenlivet; Former Roman Catholic Seminary

Canmore ID 117667

Site Number NJ21NW 21

NGR NJ 24665 19470

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Moray
  • Parish Inveravon
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Moray
  • Former County Banffshire

Accessing Scotland's Past Project

Scalan is renowned for the important role it played in preserving the Roman Catholic faith in Scotland during the eighteenth century. Between 1717 and 1799, with the help and support of the Dukes of Gordon, it functioned as a seminary, schooling over 100 youths who subsequently left Scotland to train as priests in Scots Colleges abroad. It also served as an administrative centre for the Roman Catholic church in Scotland.

The seminary was first established in a small cottage and, on several occasions in the 1720s, pupils and staff were forced to go into hiding due to the presence of government troops in the area. In 1746, following the Battle of Culloden, the Duke of Cumberland led a detachment of troops who burned the cottage to the ground.

Scalan was subsequently rebuilt, and the site of the earlier cottage can still be identified to the west of the two-storeyed farmhouse and attached cottages which were acquired in 1767 and converted for seminary use. Some features include panelled doors, stone-flagged floors and box beds.

Text prepared by RCAHMS as part of the Accessing Scotland's Past project

Archaeology Notes

NJ21NW 21.00 24665 19470

Scalan [NAT]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1972.

NJ21NW 21.01 NJ 24632 19427 South Steading with Mill Wheel

NJ21NW 21.02 NJ 2467 1935 Pond; Dam; Sluice

NJ21NW 21.03 NJ 24595 19510 North Steading with Stable and Mill Wheel


Standing Building Recording (2012)

NJ 2466 1947 Scalan is situated in the remote Ladder Hills, among rough pasture and small farms. The college was founded in 1716 to train priests at a time when the Catholic Church was suppressed. It had a varied history during the 18th century, was burned down in 1746, but was rebuilt nearby, and remained in use until the 19th century. The college of the 1760s is a rectangular building of stone, now with a slate roof, to appear as a vernacular building. Originally it had a turf roof. There is no substantial church, although at the N end of the building a chapel is adjacent to the Master’s bedroom on the first floor. Late 20th-century conservation works returned the building from farmhouse to the college layout. Survey of Places of Worship in Scotland.

Archive: Scottish Church Heritage Research

Funder: Historic Scotland

Edwina Proudfoot and Jonathan Dowling, Scottish Church Heritage Research (SCHR) 2012 (DES)

Photographic Survey (4 September 2013)

Photographed for the Listed Buildings Area Survey 2013-14


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