Invergowrie Parish Church

Invergowrie Church, exterior from south, before more recent collapses

Summary description

The rectangular shell of a medieval church that passed out of ecclesiastical use in the seventeenth century, with a later burial enclosure along its north flank. A new parish church was built on a different site in 1906-09.  

Historical outline

Dedication: St Peter(1)

Pictish sculpture recovered from the site of the medieval church,  indicates that this is a location of Christian worship of great antiquity.(2)  Certain record of the church, however, is lacking until 1162x1164 when King Malcolm IV confirmed the church of Invergowrie in the possession of the canons of Scone, along with the half carucate of land to its west called Dargie.(3)  Shortly after 1172 King William confirmed his brother’s charter and around the same time Bishop Richard of St Andrews confirmed Invergowrie, along with all of Scone’s other churches, in proprios usus, with permission to serve the cure with suitable chaplains who were removable at the canons’ will.(4)  Between 1178 and 1184 Bishop Hugh confirmed Richard’s grant in the same terms and between 1203 and 1209 Bishop William Malveisin confirmed the church and its chapels to the canons, exempt from presentation and all other episcopal rights, and in a second charter reconfirmed the earlier grants of all of Scone’s churches in proprios usus.(5)

Invergowrie is not named in the rolls of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in the 1270s, which indicates that both parsonage and vicarage were appropriated by that date and the taxation of the church rolled into the overall figure for Scone abbey.  Further confirmations of the canons’ possession of the church followed in 1283, when William Fraser issued a fresh charter reaffirming the canons’ rights to serve it with a chaplain removable at will.(6)  In 1395, the abbey secured papal of a grant in proprios usus made by Walte Traillr, bishop of St Andrews, which was said to have been made to help meet expenses incurred by granting hospitality at their abbey (described as located in the middle of the kingdom).  Traill’s grant was in respect of the parish church of Scone with its chapels of Kinfauns, ‘Crag’, and Rait, and the parish churches of Liff, Invergowrie, Logie-Dundee, Cambusmichael, Kilspindie and Blair, which were all in the patronage of the abbey by royal grant and which they held in free and perpetual alms.  Walter had also granted to the abbot the right to appoint suitable priests removable at will saving episcopal rights in all of these churches except that of Scone and its chapels.(7)

The abbey appears to have maximised its potential income from Invergowrie by incorporating it with the churches of Logie-Dundee and Liff into a single entity served by the same priest.  In 1451, John Smart, priest, the perpetual vicar of Auldbar, supplicated that the pope would provide him to the perpetual vicarage pensionary of Logie[-Dundee] with the chapels of Liff and Invergowrie, united to it.(8)  In November 1555 John Eldar, described as curate of Invergowrie, Liff and Logie, was recorded appointing legal representatives on his behalf.(9)  At the Reformation both parsonage and vicarage were recorded as annexed to the abbey of Scone, valued at £20.(10)


1. J M Mackinlay, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland. Scriptural Dedications (Edinburgh, 1910), 220.

2. J Romilly Allen, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1903), part 3, 255-256.

3. Regesta Regum Scottorum, i, The Acts of Malcolm IV, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1960), no.251.  The lands of Invergowrie had formed one of the original components of the estate granted to Scone at its foundation by King Alexander I c.1115.  It is likely that Alexander’s grant gave the canons possession of any church there and Malcolm IV’s confirmation simply resigned any residual royal rights in it, which is why it was a confirmation rather than a gift.

4. Regesta Regum Scottorum, ii, The Acts of William I, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1971), no.138; Liber Ecclesie de Scon (Bannatyne Club, 1843), no.48 [hereafter Scone Liber].

5. Scone Liber, nos 50, 53, 54.

6. Scone Liber, no.117.

7. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon 1394-1419, ed F McGurk (Scottish Record Society, 1976), 48.

8. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, v, 1447-1471, eds J Kirk, R J Tanner and A I Dunlop (Glasgow, 1997), no.388.

9. NRS Protocol Book of Duncan Gray, 1554-72, NP1/19, fol. 6v.

10. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 332, 334.

Summary of relevant documentation


Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Granted to Scone by Malcolm IV, 1162x64. The church was served by removable chaplains and the cure served by one of the canons, with the total fruits to the abbey.(1)

According to Mackinley the church was dedicated to St Peter (he also noted that the ruins were still visible in 1914.(2)

1153x64 Malcolm IV conceded and confirmed the church with a half ploughgate of land (called Dargie) to the abbey.(3)

1172x74 William I confirmed the possession of the church and the land mentioned above.(4)

1172x78 Richard, bishop of St Andrews, confirms all the churches given to Scone by Alexander I, Malcolm IV and William I and confirmed by his predecessors Roger and Aernald. In propros usus with the right to install or remove the chaplain, exempt from all episcopal exactions and customs.(5)

1178x84 Church included in a confirmation by Hugh, bishop of St Andrews, of all the churches possessed by Scone in the diocese of St Andrews in the same terms as Richard his predecessor.(6)

1203x09 Possession of the church confirmed by William, bishop of St Andrews, in two charters, the first confirming to the abbey the church with its chapels exempt from presentation and all other episcopal rights, the second a general confirmation of all the churches belonging to Scone in the diocese of St Andrews.(7)

1226 Church included in a papal bull of Honorius III confirming the possessions of the abbey the church of Scone (three chapels mentioned connected to church of Scone).(8)

1283 Church included in a further confirmation of the possessions of Scone by William Fraser, bishop of St Andrews.(9)

1395 Church included in confirmation by Walter Trail, bishop of St Andrews, of possessions of Scone in the diocese of St Andrews.(10)

1555 (Nov) John Eldar, curate of Liff, Logie and Invergowrie, nominates several individuals as his procurators.(11)


Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage and vicarage with Scone, value £20.(12)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Thomas Constable, 1792): ‘Invergowrie, as a place of Christian worship is of remote antiquity… The walls of the church, used in later times, are still very entire’.(13)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev George Addison, 1842): ‘The walls however, which are standing, and are very entire, are of plainest masonry and bear no marks of antiquity’.(14)


1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 88.

2. Mackinley, Scriptural Dedications, p. 220.

3. RRS, i, no. 251. Estate of Invergowrie possessed by the abbey from its foundation, Malcolm’s charter therefore suggests that the canons already possessed the church and that he was giving up any royal right in it.

4. RRS, ii, no. 138.

5. Scone Liber, no. 48.

6. Scone Liber, no. 50.

7. Scone Liber, no.53 & 54.

8. Scone Liber, no. 103.

9. Scone Liber, no. 117.

10. Scone Liber, no. 193.

11. NRS Prot Bk of Duncan Gray, 1554-72, NP1/19, fol. 6v.

12. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 332 & 334.

13. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1792), xiii, 117.

14. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1842), xi, 581-2.


NRS Prot Bk of Duncan Gray, 1554-72, NP1/19.

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

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

Liber ecclesie de Scon, 1843, (Bannatyne Club) Edinburgh.

Mackinley, J.M, 1910, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland. Scriptural Dedications, Edinburgh,

New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, Edinburgh and London.

Regesta Regum Scottorum, Acts of Malcolm IV (1153-65), 1960, Edinburgh.

Regesta Regum Scottorum, Acts of William I (1165-1214), 1971, Edinburgh.

Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, ed. J. Sinclair, Edinburgh.

Architectural description

There is a tradition that Invergowrie had an association with St Boniface, also known as Curetan, in the late seventh or early eighth century,(1) and the case for its being the location of Christian worship from an early period is strengthened by the survival of two early cross slabs. These were found in the churchyard and were then built into the east wall of the church; they were removed to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh in 1947.

One of those slabs has an interlace-decorated cross flanked by panels with key-pattern, and with three ecclesiastics and two beasts within a key-pattern-decorated frame to the rear. The other has the middle part of an interlace-decorated cross with part of a beast to one side, while on the rear are two figures, an angel and a horseman.(2)

The medieval parish was granted to the Augustinian abbey of Scone by Malcolm IV in 1162-4. In 1283, on confirming the church to Scone, Bishop William gave permission for the cure to be served by removable chaplains, though it is likely that it was generally served by one of the abbey’s canons.(3)

The parish was united with those of Liff and Benvie in about 1613. But it evidently remained in use for worship for some considerable time afterwards, and was then used as a burial enclosure by the families of Invergowrie and Mylnefield. As a consequence both of the Statistical Accounts could describe the shell of the building as being ‘very entire’.(4) A new church was built for the parish in 1906-9, at NO 34698 30350, to the designs of John Robertson.(5)

The shell of the medieval church, which still stands relatively complete, albeit fenced off and in a state of accelerating decay, is a rectangle of about 6.22 by 15.9 metres. Running along much of the north side is the enclosure of the Mylne of Mylnefield family. Its east wall is some distance west of the east end of the church itself, but its west wall aligns with the west wall of the church.

Quoins near the mid-point of the north wall of the Mylne Aisle indicate that the eastern half of the aisle is earlier than the western half, and that it was later extended to align with the west gable of the church. It might be speculated that the eastern half could have originated as a medieval sacristy, though the character of the masonry, and of the quoins in particular, make this unlikely.

There are two doors in the south wall, the entrance for layfolk towards the west end being round arched, while the priest’s door towards the east end is rectangular. There has also been a rectangular door on the north side of the nave, which is now blocked but visible from inside the Mylne Aisle. All of the medieval doors have chamfered reveals. A four-centred-arched door in the west wall is of post-Reformation date.

To the south of the site of the altar is a rectangular window, which has been divided by a mullion into two lights, though the mullion is now lost. A little to the east of the mid-point of the south wall is a window that has been round-arched and trifoliate-headed; it perhaps lit the area in front of a screen demarcating the chancel from the nave. Internally, there is an aumbry near the north end of the east wall; to the east of the lay entrance there is a rectangular recess for a holy water stoup, the basis of which has been cut back flush with the wall.

Most of the surviving details, including the cavetto-moulded wall-head cornice and the blank east wall with an intake at the base of its gable, appear to be of late medieval date, though these could be the result of remodelling of an earlier shell.


1. Alan Macquarrie, Legends of Scottish the Aberdeen Breviary, Dublin, 2012, p. 331-32.

2. J. Romilly Allen and Joseph Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1903, pt. 3, pp. 255-7.

3. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 88.

4. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, vol. 13, p. 117; New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 11, pp. 581-82.

5. John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Perth and Kinross, New Haven and London, 2007, p. 430.



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

  • 1. Invergowrie Church, exterior from south, before more recent collapses

  • 2. Invergowrie Church, exterior, from south east (MacGibbon and Ross)

  • 3. Invergowrie Church, exterior, west gable wall

  • 4. Invergowrie Church, exterior, north burial aisle, north wall from west

  • 5. Invergowrie Church, exterior, north burial aisle, quoins part-way down north wall

  • 6. Invergowrie Church, exterior, north nave door

  • 7. Invergowrie Church, exterior, central south window

  • 8. Invergowrie Church, exterior, east gable wall

  • 9. Invergowrie Church, exterior, north-east angle

  • 10. Invergowrie Church, exterior, south choir window

  • 11. Invergowrie Church, exterior, south nave door

  • 12. Invergowrie Church, exterior, window to south of altar

  • 13. Invergowrie Church, interior, holy water stoup inside south nave door

  • 14. Invergowrie Church, interior, looking east

  • 15. Invergowrie Church, exterior, from south east (MacGibbon and Ross)

  • 16. Invergowrie Church, plan (MacGibbon and Ross)

  • 17. Invergowrie, later church