Struan Parish Church

Struan, motte adjacent to church

Summary description

The site of the medieval church is immediately to the south of the present church, where faint outlines of wall alignments may be seen.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown/St Fillan

The presence of an Early Medieval period cross-slab at the church suggests that Struan is a site of Christian worship of great antiquity. Nothing of its history is known, however, until the church was first recorded in a surviving document when it was listed in Bagimond’s Roll in 1274.(1) The church probably was in the patronage of the Robertsons in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries but may have been acquired by the Stewart earls of Atholl in the early sixteenth century when the Robertson lands were apprized by the crown for debt.(2) At the Reformation, the church was still a free parsonage and was valued at 100 merks, but the rector was evidently an absentee and the cure was served by a chaplain or curate.(3)

Notes

1. SHS Misc, vi, 47, 73.

2. RMS, iii, no 32, where the lands of Kirkton of Struan were amongst Robertson properties granted to Earl John by the king in 1515 following their apprizement.

3. Kirk (ed.), Book of Assumptions, 319.

Architectural description

The churchyard at Struan is on a promontory at the confluence of the Garry and Errochty Rivers, and there is a small motte a short distance to its west, suggesting that this was a significant administrative location. The antiquity of Struan is attested by the survival of a Pictish stone that was found in the churchyard and that is now displayed in the church. There is also an enigmatic roughly worked cross-inscribed stone in the churchyard, to the south-west of the church. The medieval church was home to St Fillan’s Bell, which is now in the collections of Perth Museums; it apparently also housed a miracle-working statue of its patron saint, which is said to have survived into the eighteenth century.

In 1819 the Duke of Atholl created something of a furore by proposing to suppress the church here, along with that at Blair, replacing them with a new church on a different site at Blair. After prolonged investigations, in 1825 the presbytery of Dunkeld declared in favour of building a new church at Struan, as well as that proposed for Blair. As a consequence, the present church was built in 1827-8, to the designs of Charles Sim. Rather confusingly, the interior of the church bears little relationship to its external appearance, since in 1938 it was divided longitudinally by a wall, with the church itself in the southern half, and a hall to the north. The site of its medieval predecessor is to the south of the church, where the faint outlines of the walls of a rectangular building may be seen.

Bibliography

Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh, 193.

Dunlop, A.I., 1939, ‘Bagimond’s Roll, statement of the tenths of the kingdom of Scotland’ Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi, 1-77, at 47, 73.

Gifford, J., 2007, The Buildings of Scotland, Perth and Kinross, New Haven and London, 716.

Hay, G., 1957, The architecture of Scottish post-Reformation churches, Oxford, 270.

Kerr, J., 1998, Church and social history of Atholl, Perth, 43-59, 80-91.

Kirk, J., 1995, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, (British Academy) Oxford, 319.

Mackinlay, J.M., 1914, Ancient church dedications in Scotland, non-scriptural dedications, Edinburgh, 169.

New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1845, Edinburgh and London, x, 573.

Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scottorum, 1883, Edinburgh, iii (1513-46), no 32.

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

Map

Images

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  • 1. Struan, motte adjacent to church

  • 2. Struan Church, Pictish stone

  • 3. Struan Church, interior

  • 4. Struan Church, exterior, from south west (cross-marked stone in left foreground)

  • 5. Struan Churchyard, possible site of earlier church