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Restenneth Priory

Coffin (Medieval), Priory (Medieval)

Site Name Restenneth Priory

Classification Coffin (Medieval), Priory (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Strathmore Estate

Canmore ID 33745

Site Number NO45SE 10

NGR NO 48222 51600

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Angus
  • Parish Forfar
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Angus
  • Former County Angus

Archaeology Notes

NO45SE 10.00 48222 51600

NO45SE 10.01 c. 47 51 gold ring

For cup-marked stone adjacent to Prior House (NO 4810 5167), see NO45SE 51.

(NO 4822 5159) Remains of (NAT) Restenneth Priory (NR) (Augustinian) (NAT)

OS 6" map (1970)

Restenneth Priory, possibly occupying the site of a Celtic foundation is fully described and planned by Simpson (Easson 1957).

W D Simpson 1952; 1957.

A silver-gilt thumb ring from the Priory was donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS) in 1877 (Accession no: NJ 42).

Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1878.

The remains of Restenneth Priory stand on a knoll, and are as described. The walls of the choir are c.5.0m high and contain fine lancet windows. The foundations of the nave and part of the chapter house vary from 0.3m - 1.2m in height. The plain cloister walls are c.4.0m high. The tower is entire. The whole is well preserved by the DoE.

Visited by OS (JLD) 14 August 1958.

Architecture Notes


Owner: H.M.Office of Works


Forfar Public Library - Measured survey by David E Adam 1912 - E & W elevations, section, detail of mouldings.

Uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton, Vol 2 No 17 - sketches and a ground plan


Online Gallery (1306 - 1329)

The year 2014 sees the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, in which the army of Robert I of Scotland defeated that of Edward II of England. The battle marked a major turning point in the long, drawn-out struggle of the Wars of Independence.

The Wars have had a lasting influence upon all the nations of the United Kingdom and upon the national story. Each age has seen fit to commemorate the events in its own way: through the perpetuation of the genuine historical associations of buildings and places and also through the endowment of others with improbable or fanciful traditions. Where past generations allowed its historic buildings to decay and disappear, later generations began to value and actively preserve these for their associations. Where an event lacked a tangible reminder, as at Kinghorn where Alexander III was killed in a riding accident, a commemorative monument would be erected to act as a focus. The Wars of Independence predate the fashion for accurate portraiture: the weathered, generic military effigy of Sir James Douglas is one of the few to survive in Scotland. Later centuries saw a need and supplied it by a crowd of images of its historic heroes, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, each depicted according to contemporary taste and imagination. The opening of the new heritage centre at Bannockburn takes this into a new dimension, through the use of three-dimensional, digital technology.

RCAHMS Collections hold many images of these buildings and locations from battlefields, castles and churches, to the many commemorative monuments erected in later years. This gallery highlights a selection of these, including antiquarian sketches, photographic and drawn surveys, and architectural designs.

Aerial Photography (September 1970)

Oblique aerial photographs of Restenneth Priory, Angus, taken by John Dewar in September 1970.

Publication Account (1987)

The ruined priory of Restenneth stands in the heart of the ancient kingdom of the Picts and its foundation dates to the Pictish period. In the year 710, Nechtan, King of the Picts, wrote to Ceolfrid, Abbot of Wearmouth, asking for advice on differences that had developed between the Celtic and Roman Church and for masons to build a stone church. This request was granted and the mission of St Boniface founded a series of churches in Pictland, all dedicated to St Peter. One of these churches was Restenneth. It has been suggested that the lower portion of the central tower may embody a remnant of St Boniface's church.

The present tower appears to date from about the turn of the 11th and 12th centuries. Later in the 12th century Restenneth is recorded as a small priory of Augustinian canons. The priory continued to prosper and King Robert Bruce was a generous patron and chose this as the burial place for his young son, Prince John.

After the Reformation, Restenneth had a number of owners-one of them, George Dempster of Dunnichen (nos 6 and 9), made part of the choir into a family burial place. In 1919 the ruins were placed in the custody of the State.

The most outstanding feature of the priory is the tower which rises to a height of about 14 m excluding the spire. It has a number of similarities to the tower of St Rule's Church, St Andrews (no. 64) and appears to date from about the same period. However the lowest 3 m appears to be much older and its character indicates that it is likely to have served as a porch prior to being heightened into a tower. The octagonal broach spire probably dates from the 15th century. The walls of the choir are reasonably intact and are a good example of early 13th century ecclesiastical architecture.

The old font of Restenneth Priory is preserved in the Episcopal Mission Church at Carsebarracks near Forfar (NO 476522).

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Fife and Tayside’, (1987).


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