Kirk of Muir / St Mary of Garvald in Dundafmoor / Kirkmuir Parish Church

Kirk of Muir churchyard, 2

Summary description

Out of use by the mid-eighteenth century, its site is probably perpetuated by a burial enclosure.

Historical outline

Dedication: Our Lady

In origin a chapel of the parish church of Kirkton or St Ninian’s (qv), it was recorded in 1458/9 as the chapel of the Blessed Mary of Garvald in the moor of Dundaff in a charter whereby King James II granted the chaplain serving there the lands of Ernbeg, in which was located ‘the Cross of Kippen’, for the maintenance of the chaplain and his successors.(1)  As a pendicle of Kirkton it was annexed along with its mother-church to Cambuskenneth.

Hard evidence that Kirk o’ Muir had achieved independent parish status before the Reformation is lacking, none of the references cited by Cowan making that explicit statement.(2) A ‘parson’ of Kirk o’ Muir, Mr John Stuart, is on record in 1493, when he took a three-year tack of the teinds of the prebendary of Cardross.(3)  What appears to be the church’s earliest recorded appearance as ‘ecclesia’ rather than ‘capella’ is a Great Seal charter of 23 May 1581 which confirmed possession of the advowson of the church of Dundaffmure in the possession of John Graham, son and heir of John Graham, earl of Montrose.(4) At the Reformation, the ‘vicarage of the chaplanrie’ of Kirk o’ Muir, was recorded as held by William Kinross, valued at 1 chalder of meal and 40s, and was a benefice in the patronage of the Graham earls of Montrose.(5) There is otherwise no reference to cleric performing parochial functions at this place before the later sixteenth century.


1. Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, ii, 1424-1513, ed J B Paul (Edinburgh, 1882), no.672.

2. I B Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 123.

3. NRS GD220/2/1/91.

4. Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, v, 1580-1593, ed J M Thomson (Edinburgh, 1888), no.188.

5. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 553.

Architectural description

Kirk of Muir was a pendicle of Kirkton, that is, St Ninian’s Church in Stirling, and as such it pertained to the Augustinian abbey of Cambuskenneth. However, it appears to have achieved a form of parochial status before the Reformation, with the cure served by a vicar pensioner.(1)

By the time that the area was surveyed for Edgar’s map in 1745, it had passed out of use and was marked as a ruin. From 1750 the people of the area worshiped at Buckieburn Church, which had been built in that year by the heritors of the moorland part of the parish.(2) But the churchyard is known to have remained in use for burials in 1883,(3) and survives at NS 7007 8401.

Although no traces of the church itself remain visible, its most likely location is on an area of relatively level ground at the centre of the heavily overgrown churchyard. It may be suspected that a fenced burial enclosure within that area perpetuates the site of part of the church.


1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 123.

2. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Inventory of Stirlingshire, Edinburgh, 1963, vol. 1, pp. 159-60.

3. Francis H. Groome (ed.), Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, vol. 4, 1883.



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  • 1. Kirk of Muir churchyard, 2

  • 2. Kirk of Muir churchyard, 1

  • 3. Kirk of Muir churchyard, gravestone