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Deer Abbey

Abbey (Medieval)

Site Name Deer Abbey

Classification Abbey (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Old Deer Abbey; Cistercian Abbey Of Deer

Canmore ID 20582

Site Number NJ94NE 5

NGR NJ 96855 48107

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2017.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Old Deer
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Banff And Buchan
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ94NE 5.00 96855 48107

NJ94NE 5.01 NJ 97007 48133 Walled Garden

NJ94NE 5.02 96855 48107 Pictish Symbol Stone

(NJ 9685 4810) Abbey (NR) (Remains of)

OS 6" map (1902).


Reference (1952)

The Cistercian Abbey of Deer was founded in 1219. The secularization of the abbey began in 1543 and its lands erected into a barony in 1587.

The dismantling of the buildings seems to have begun about 1590. They have been reduced to little more than foundations except for the south range which still remains to a considerable height, although they were partly rebuilt in 1809.

W D Simpson 1952

Field Visit (17 April 1968)

Deer Abbey is as described by Simpson. There is no trace of the symbol stone.

Visited by OS (NKB) 17 April 1968

Excavation (1986)

An application to develop the land between the guardianship site and the estate wall prompted a small excavation to estimate the extent of medieval activity in that area. Some medieval features were found, particularly to S of the Abbey buildings and to W, where the line of the main drain was identified. To E of the Abbey there was no trace of structures, and it seemed that burials may have been confined to the guardianship area.

J A Stones 1986.

Watching Brief (April 2002)

NJ 968 481 Archaeological monitoring was undertaken in April 2002 at Old Deer Abbey during the initial phase of construction of a new wooden porch. Nothing of archaeological significance was found.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: HS

G Ewart and D Stewart 2002.

Watching Brief (6 June 2011 - 8 June 2011)

NJ 9685 4816 A watching brief was maintained 6–8 June 2011 during the removal of a tree stump. There were no finds or features of archaeological significance other than deposits which may date to 19th-century landscaping.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

Kirkdale Archaeology, 2011

Information also reported in Oasis (kirkdale1-122357) 18 July 2012

Photographic Survey (19 August 2013)

Photographed on beahlf of the Buildings of Scotland publications 2013-14.

External Reference


Deer Abbey, Aberdeenshire.

The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, contains, amoung the 'Uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton', and numbered 7 in vol.II, a Plan of Deer Abbey in Aberdeenshire, dated 1789 and with References, to the scale of 1 inch to 1 chain. The is also a larger ground plan, to the scale of 37 feet to an inch, by Allan, dated 1805. There are also some rough Sketches of the ruined walls, in which no vestiges of Architectural treatment seem to remain.

In the Parish of Old Deer, Buchan, not far distant from the village of Deer, and upon the North bank of the River Ugie, stand the remains of this once extensive Abbey.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

External Reference

(Location cited as NJ 9685 4810: nominated as Site of Regional Significance). Remains of Deer Abbey; Cistercian, founded in 1219. The abbey's history is obscure and, judging from the remains, the community could never have been large. In 1544 an abbot and eleven monks were recorded. The abbey fell into disrepair in the late 16th century, being partially dismantled from c. 1590.

In 1809 the ruins were cleared of rubbish and repaired by the then proprietor, James Ferguson of Pitfour (the S range being partially rebuilt), but in 1854 it was practically destroyed by Admiral Ferguson in order to build a mausoleum in the grounds. In 1930, the remains were bought by the Roman Catholic Church who gave custody to the Ministry of Works. The mausoleum was removed and the Abbey repaired and laid out as it is today.

The remains of the church and cloister can be seen along with the domestic W and S range with the kitchen and refectory, also the chapter-house, toilets, abbot's house and infirmary.

A symbol stone, sculptured on both sides, stood some years ago at the E end of a range of buildings, but there is now no trace of it.

Finds from Stones' excavations of 1985 are held in Aberdeen [City] Museum.

[Air photographic references and newspaper/typescript references cited].

NMRS, MS/712/35.


For Pictish Symbol Stone, see NJ94NE 5.02.


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