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Cullen, St Mary's Collegiate Church

Church (16th Century)

Site Name Cullen, St Mary's Collegiate Church

Classification Church (16th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Cullen Parish Church; Cullen House Policies

Canmore ID 17965

Site Number NJ56NW 5

NGR NJ 50732 66358

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/17965

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NJ56NW 5 50732 66358

(NJ 5073 6635) Church (NAT)

(NJ 5058 6631) Collegiate Church (NR)

(Supposed Remains of)

OS 6" map, (1938)

See also NJ56NW 8.

A collegiate church of secular canons was founded in 1543 in Cullen Parish Church which dates from this period and is still in ecclesiastical use. The foundations of a building near Cullen House (NJ56NW 6.00) were believed to be part of this establishment.

Name Book 1866; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1896-7; D E Easson 1957.

The Church of St Mary's is still in use as a place of worship. The remains of a short stretch of rubble walling at NJ 5060 6630 protrude from an earthen bank at the rear of Cullen House (NJ56NW 6.00), but its identity could not be ascertained.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 15 September 1961.

The oldest part of the Church, known until the Reformation as St Mary's Church is the rectangular nave built prior to 1536, and containing a blocked Norman arch at the W and of the S wall. A church at Cullen is first mentioned in 1236, but whether any part of it is retained in the present fabric cannot be ascertained.

In 1536, St Mary's Aisle, the present S transept, was added. When the church became collegiate in 1543, the choir was extended in the E to accomodate the six alters of the prebendaries. In 1792 a N transept was added, and the church assumed its present cruciform shape (Cramond 1883) It is now known as Cullen Old Church and is still used, as is the graveyard. There is now no trace of the rubble wall behind Cullen House.

Visited by OS (NKB) 25 July 1967.

St Mary's, Cullen, is characteristic of the last phase of the medieval church in Scotland, which saw the foundation of many collegiate churches for the saying of masses for the souls of their benefactors. In 1536, a south aisle, endowed by Elena Hay, was added to a simple rectangular medieval church. In 1543, the church was raised to a collegiate church with endowment from, among others, Alexander Ogilvie of that ilk; the chancel was lengthened.

Ogilvie died in 1554 and his ornate tomb is in the chancel. It consists of a canopied recess containing an armour-clad effigy on top of a tomb-chest with weeping figures on its front. The crockets of the arch of the recess and the pinnacles above are all late Gothic in style. By contrast, the cherubs on the back wall of the recess and the medallion panels above are early Renaissance in inspiration. There is also a sacrament house (presented by Ogilvie) in the north wall.

The south wall of the chancel is occupied by a laird's loft of 1602, complete with armorial panels. It represents the continuing influence of the principal family (the Ogilvies, by then baronets) on the affairs and even the form of the kirk. On the north wall is a marble monument to one of the later Ogilvies, James, fourth earl of Findlater and Seafield, one of the architects of the Union of Parliaments in 1707.

The tombs which were misappropriated and their dates recut by the second earl of Fife have now been returned to Cullen.

I A G Shepherd 1986.

Architecture Notes

NMRS REFERENCE

Architect: Boehm - sculptor - medallion on monument to Earl of Seafield.

Fowlie - reconstruction

Inventory of plans held in Scottish Record Office - typescript (R6/P24)

Activities

Publication Account (1986)

St Mary's, Cullen, is characteristic of the last phase of the medieval church in Scotland, which saw the foundation of many collegiate churches for the saying of masses for the souls of their benefactors. In 1536, a south aisle, endowed by Elena Hay, was added to a simple rectangular medieval church. In 1543 the chapel was raised to a collegiate church with endowment from, among others, Alexander Ogilvie of that ilk; the chancel was lengthened.

Ogilvie died in 1554 and his ornate tomb is in the chancel. It consists of a canopied recess containing an armour-clad effigy on top of a tomb-chest with weeping figures on its front. The crockets of the arch of the recess and the pinnacles above are all late Gothic in style. By contrast, the cherubs on the back wall of the recess and the medallion panels above are early Renaissance in inspiration. There is also a sacrament house (presented by Ogilvie) in the north wall.

The south wall of the chancel is occupied by a laird's loft of 1602, complete with armorial panels. It represents the continuing influence of the principal family (the Ogilvies, by then baronets) on the affairs and even the form of the kirk. On the north wall is a marble monument to one of the later Ogilvies, lames, fourth earl of Find later and Seafleld, one of the architects of the Union of Parliaments in 1707.

The tombs, which were misappropriated and their dates recut by the second earl of Fife (see no. 2), have now been returned to Cullen.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Grampian’, (1986).

Publication Account (1996)

St Mary's, Cullen, is characteristic of the last phase of the medieval church in Scotland, which saw the foundation of many collegiate churches for the saying of masses for the souls of their benefactors. In 1536, a south aisle, endowed by Elena Hay, was added to a sim ple rectangular medieval church. In 1543 the chapel was raised to a coll egiate church with endowment from, among others, Alexander Ogilvie of that ilk; the chancel was lengthened.

Ogilvie died in 1554 and his ornate tomb is in the chancel. It consists of a canopied recess containing an armour-clad effigy on top of a tomb-chest with weeping figures on its front. The crockets of the arch of the recess and the pinnacles above are all late Gothic in style. By contrast, the cherubs on the back wall of the recess and the medallion panels above are early Renaissance in inspiration. There is also a sacrament house (presented by Ogilvie) in the north wall.

The south wall of the chancel is occupied by a laird's loft of 1602, complete with armorial panels. It represents the continuing influence of the principal family (the Ogilvies, by then baronets) on the affairs and even the form of the kirk. On the north wall is a marble monument to one of the later Ogilvies, James, fourth earl of Findlater and Seafield, one of the architects of the Union of Parliaments in 1707.

The tombs, which were misappropriated and their dates recut by the second earl of Fife (see no. 2), have now been returned to Cullen.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Aberdeen and North-East Scotland’, (1996).

Field Visit (2012)

NJ 5072 6635 Cullen Old Kirk sits at a distance from the modern town, which was removed to the present location from1820. The church, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin is cruciform in plan. It sits in a graveyard where there are several historic stones. Dating from the 13th century with many additions and alterations, up to and including from the 20th century, it is a fascinating building. There is a birdcage bellcote on the W gable.~The kirk retains two features, once common in churches, but rarely surviving today, lairds’ tombs of 1554 and the laird’s loft, of 1602. In addition there are some 16th- and 17th-century pew ends, a 16th-century sacrament house, the remains of a chapel to St Anne and a tomb with carvings of knights on horseback. Associated churches are the former St John the Evangelist church, at Kirkton of Deskford, and at Skeith is a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pity.

Archive: Scottish Church Heritage Research

Funder: Historic Scotland

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

Field Visit (23 November 2017)

There is graffiti scratched into the pews in the upper Fisherman’s Loft in St Mary’s Kirk, Cullen. There is a particular concentration on the rear two rows of pews, which are worth some consideration in detail. The markings range from carvings of ships and boats, from fishing vessels to steam boats. Along with some of these depictions are ship registration numbers and the letters ‘MFV’ are common. This refers to Motorised Fishing Vessel, which were used by the navy during World War 2. In addition are multiple initials of who loves who (surrounded by hearts) and images of people, including a bride and her wedding dress.

Based on the form of the graffiti on the pew shelves it would appear that women and girls sat in pew 15, because the majority of the names carved are girls’ names and the images are of women. Whereas in pew 14, the majority of graffiti are boys’ names, ship images and vessel registration numbers, which suggests that this was the row where men/boys sat.

The graffiti ranges in date from the late 19th century until the 1970s.

Visited by HES Survey and Recording (AGCH, ZB, JB) 23 November 2017.

Project

Recording Scotland's graffiti project was designed to review the range of historic and contemporary graffiti art across Scotland. It involved desk-based assessment and fieldwork at a number of example sites, to consider recording methodologies and dissemination practices.

Between 2016 and 2017, phase 1 of the project aimed to:

Aim 1: review a range of historic and contemporary graffiti art from across Scotland, already present in Canmore.

Aim2: undertake a research review of previous approaches to recording graffiti art in Canmore and other HERs, review and develop the current Thesaurus terms.

Aim 3: test and develop a range of recording methods within the following programmes or projects: Discovering the Clyde programme (1223), Scotland’s Urban Past (1222), Architecture and Industry projects, such as Urban Recording Projects (1028), Area Photographic Survey (311) and the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Landscape Partnership (1167).

Aim 4: the following test sites will be considered for research into the range of historic and contemporary graffiti. They will be analysed to demonstrate the different ages, contexts, styles and survivals of historic and contemporary graffiti: Polphail village (Canmore ID 299112), Scalan farmstead (170726), Cowcaddens Subway Station (243099), Croick Parish Church (12503), Dalbeattie Armament Depot (76279) and Dumbarton Rock (43376).

Aim 5: to research the potential for social media to play a role in crowd-sourcing information and archiving Scotland’s graffiti art.

In 2017-2019, phase 2 of the project aimed to:

Aim 1: To enhance the NRHE to the point at which it can be said to adequately represent the broad range of historic and modern graffiti that is evident throughout Scotland, and to explore ways by which that information can best be disseminated.

Aim 2: To develop guidelines that will convey the HES approach to researching and recording graffiti.

Aim 3: To write a specification for a book on Scotland’s graffiti.

Aim 4: To develop external partnerships to explore further ways to record graffiti and to identify and explore potential funding streams to enable further knowledge exchange and research.

The project was managed by Dr Alex Hale, with contributions from staff across Herirtage and Commercial and Tourism directorates.

References

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