Ruthven Parish Church

Ruthven Church, exterior, from south west

Summary description

The present parish church, which dates from 1859, is assumed to occupy the site of its predecessors, of which nothing visible survives.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

It is not known by what route the lands of Ruthven, together with their associated church, came into the hands of Robert of London, illegitimate son of King William, but in 1204 or 1205 the king confirmed the grant of the church by his son to the abbey of Arbroath.(1) The history of the origins of the church offered by the parish minister in the Statistical Account in 1792 is wholly without foundation.(2) Appropriation of the revenues of the church to the abbey was granted soon after King William’s charter by Bishop Richard of Dunkeld and confirmed by his successors and the chapter of his cathedral.(3) A vicarage settlement, however, appears only to have been instituted in 1271 and the church is listed as a vicarage in Bagimond’s Roll.(4) A parish clerk is on record in 1331 and a chaplain in 1454.(5) Possession of the church remained with Arbroath at the Reformation.(6) In the Book of Assumptions the vicarage of Ruthven, was wrongly described as ‘lying on the Wattersyd of Yle within the sheriffdom of Forfar and diocese of Brechin’.(7)


1. RRS, ii, no  454.

2. OSA, xii, 295.

3. Arbroath Liber, i, nos 216, 217, 219.

4. Arbroath Liber, i, no  253; SHS Misc, vi, 48.

5. Abroath Liber, ii, nos 12, 98.

6. Kirk (ed.), Book of Assumptions, 359.

7. Kirk (ed.), Book of Assumptions, 305-6.

Architectural analysis

The mid-nineteenth-century church stands in a remote location near Inverqueich, on the west bank of the River Isla. It is an oriented rectangle of five buttressed bays, with a porch in the second bay from the west on the south side. A narrow and shallow chancel-like projection at the east end houses the pew of the Wedderburn Ogilvy of Ruthven family, the entrance to which is by way of a square tower-porch that is surmounted by an octagonal belfry and squat slated spire. The mason who built the church was named as Peter Leslie, and the date 1859 is inscribed within a trefoil above the laird’s entrance. The sole reminders of the existence of a medieval church here are two fragments of cross-incised grave slabs built into the west wall, and there is a third more complete slab re-used as a lintel in the coach house of the manse to the west of the church.

The churchyard contains a number of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century memorials. In 1965 the charge of Ruthven was linked with that of Airlie.


Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh, p176.

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 48.

Kirk, J., 1995, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, (British Academy) Oxford, 305-6, 359.

Liber S Thome de Aberbrothoc, 1848-56, ed. C. Innes and P. Chalmers, Edinburgh (Bannatyne Club), i, nos 216, 217, 219, 253; ii, nos 12, 98.

New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1845, Edinburgh and London, xi (Forfar), 419.

Regesta Regum Scottorum, Acts of William I (1165-1214), 1971, Edinburgh, no 454.

Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, ed. J. Sinclair, Edinburgh, xii (1794), 295.



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

  • 1. Ruthven Church, exterior, from south west

  • 2. Ruthven Church, churchyard, monument 2

  • 3. Ruthven Church, churchyard, monument 1

  • 4. Ruthven manse stable block,cross slab re-used as lintel

  • 5. Ruthven Church, interior

  • 6. Ruthven Church, exterior, west wall, inserted cross-incised slab 2

  • 7. Ruthven Church, exterior, west wall, inserted cross-incised slab 1

  • 8. Ruthven Church, exterior, date stone

  • 9. Ruthven Church, exterior, from east

  • 10. Ruthven Church, exterior, from north