Ecclesiamagirdle / Exmagirdle / Ecclesmoghridain Parish Church

Ecclesiamagirdle Churchyard, monument 2

Summary description

The roofless but structurally complete shell of this small rectangular church was preserved through adaptation as a burial place.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Magridin

Although there is no recorded pre-thirteenth-century history of the church or parish of Exmagirdle, it is likely that the religious establishment here is of great antiquity. The first reference to the church occurs in the early 1200s when rights in the parish were conceded to the abbey of Lindores by Bishop Abraham of Dunblane as part of a settlement before papal judges-delegate concerning the church of Muthill.(1) The settlement provided for an annual payment of 10 merks to be made to Lindores; six from the vill of Exmagirdle, two from the bishop’s revenues to free the church of Exmagirdle from other obligations, and two to free the teinds of ‘Cletheues’ from other burdens, while the earl of Strathearn would bear all military responsbilities attached to those lands and the bishop and his successors would bear most other obligations. Although it is not stated explicitly in this settlement, it appears that Lindores already had possession of some right or interest in the church of Exmagirdle. That right, however, may simply have been the advowson. Between c.1214 and c.1223, Bishop Abraham agreed to make the annual payment in respect of the church of Exmagradle from his own chamber, by two instalments each year. The arrangement was to continue for the lifetime of Patrick, then parson of the church, who was to enjoy full and peaceable possession. On his death or resignation, however, it was agreed that full possession of Exmagirdle was to pass to the monks of Lindores and the bishop and his successors would be quit of the annual payment of two merks.(2)

At around the same date, a series of three related charters recorded settlements made by the clergy of various religious establishments in southern Perthshire in respect of rights to hospitality (conveth) and service due to them from the vill of Exmagridle.(3) In return for the quitclaiming of these rights to the monks of Lindores, Bishop Abraham paid the former possessors cash compensation. The implication of these acts is that the lands of Exmagirdle had been unusually burdened at an early date with the obligation of supporting the ‘master of the schools’ and scholars of Dunblane and Muthill, and the clerks of Methven, possibly indicating that it was an ecclesiastical estate associated with the early monastery and bishopric at Dunblane.

The settlements instituted by Bishop Abraham were challenged in 1234 by Bishop Clement on the grounds that they were excessively generous and financially damaging to his see.(4) In 1235, Clement agreed to a new settlement which judged that instead of the monks receiving 10 merks annually from the bishopric they should instead pay the bishops 5 merks.(5) This arrangement confirmed that in return for this annual payment the monks would have full possession of the church and all its revenues. Thereafter, Exmagridle was served by chaplains appointed by the monks and the revenues of the parish were fully absorbed into the income of the abbey.(6)


1. Lindores Charters, no  XLII; Ferguson, Medieval Papal Representatives, 219-220.

2. Lindores Charters, no XLV.

3. Lindores Charters, nos XLVI, XLVII, XLVIII.

4. Ferguson, Medieval Papal Representatives, 220.

5. Lindores Charters, no LII.

6. Kirk (ed.), Book of Assumptions, 32, 36.

Architectural description

The church, which is a rectangular structure of red sandstone rubble with freestone dressings, is roofless. Nevertheless, it stands almost complete to the wallheads, though that completeness clearly owes much to modern restorations. It has maximum dimensions of 9.68 metres from east to west and 5.48 metres from north to south. While it has few dependable diagnostic features, those that there are point to a late medieval date for the building in its final form; however, slight intakes at a height of about 1.16 metres in the east wall, and about 2.08 metres in the west wall, could point to the lower walls having been retained from an earlier structure.

The sole entrance to the church is a lintelled rectangular opening framed by chamfered reveals. There is a blocked window at an elevated level in the west wall with similarly chamfered reveals, which corresponds to an internal embrasure rising through the full height of the gable. Set within that window arch externally is a dummy round-headed window of relatively modern date. On the outer face of the east wall may be seen the dressings of a single tall round-headed window, which was blocked when a monument was constructed within its embrasure. The only window that has not been blocked is a single-light opening towards the east end of the south wall, the sill of which suggests it was initially intended to be a twin-light window. It was presumably intended to light the altar. It now has a round-arched head and chamfered reveals externally; internally its embrasure is bridged by a roughly worked lintel. On the east side the window jamb has retained the rebate for a glazing frame, but the west jamb and the external arch are clearly modern replacments. On the north side of the chancel area is a small aumbry with a rebate for a door frame, which in this position may have served as a Sacrament House.

The church and churchyard were evidently maintained for some time after the Reformation. The churchyard walls are dated 1648, and bear the initials of Sir David Carmichael and his wife, who lived in the nearby Ecclesiamagirdle House; the churchyard contains a number of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century memorials. By the nineteenth century, however, by which time the parish had been absorbed within that of Dron, the church had become the burial enclosure for members of the Husband family, the owners of Glenearn House. The earliest death recorded is on a memorial erected against the west wall, and is that of Elizabeth Margaret Husband who died in 1820.


Chartulary of the abbey of Lindores, 1903, ed. J. Dowden, (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh, nos XLII, XLV, XLVI, XLVII, XLVIII, LII.

Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh, 63-4.

Kirk, J., 1995, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, (British Academy) Oxford, 32, 36.

Ferguson, P.C., 1997, Medieval papal representatives in Scotland, (Stair Society) Edinburgh, 219-20.

Gifford, J., 2007, The Buildings of Scotland, Perth and Kinross, New Haven and London, 357-8.

MacGibbon, D. and Ross, T., 1896-7, The ecclesiastical architecture of Scotland, Edinburgh, iii (1897), 357-8.

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Canmore database.

Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, ed. J. Sinclair, Edinburgh, ix (1793), p. 481; vol. xi (1794), 137.



Click on any thumbnail to open the image gallery and slideshow.

  • 1. Ecclesiamagirdle Churchyard, monument 2

  • 2. Ecclesiamagirdle Churchyard, monument 1

  • 3. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, plan (MacGibbon and Ross)

  • 4. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, plan

  • 5. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, interior, chancel, aumbry in north wall

  • 6. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, interior, south wall, window b

  • 7. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, interior, south wall, window a

  • 8. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, interior, west wall

  • 9. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, interior, east wall, blocked window

  • 10. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, interior, looking east

  • 11. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, exterior, south wall, window

  • 12. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, exterior, south wall, door

  • 13. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, exterior, west wall

  • 14. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, exterior, east wall, blocked window

  • 15. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, exterior, east wall, from north east

  • 16. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, exterior, from south east

  • 17. Ecclesiamagirdle Church, exterior, from north west