Scone Parish Church

Scone Chapel on, Moot Hill, exterior, 2

Summary description

The medieval parish was probably accommodated in the Augustinian abbey church, founded in about 1120. In 1605 a church was built on the nearby Moot Hill with a family aisle that survived (and was remodelled in 1807) when the rest of the building was demolished. The church was probably rebuilt a short distance away in 1784, but was relocated to New Scone in 1804. 

Historical outline

Dedication: Holy Trinity

The church of the Holy Trinity of Scone, with its dependent chapels of Craig, Kinfauns and Rait, was granted in c.1115 by King Alexander I to the colony of Augustinian canons sent north from Nostell Priory as the founding community of his new priory at Scone.(1)  King David I is recorded in the confirmation of the monastery’s possessions made by King Malcolm IV as having granted the canons the teinds of the parish of Scone as well as from the royal estate there.(2)  Confirmation of the by then abbey’s possessions by Pope Alexander III, however, makes no reference to the teinds from the parish, mentioning only those of the king’s provend, malt and cain of hides and cheese received from his royal estate at Scone.(3)  It was King William who conceded and confirmed the whole teinds of the parish to the canons shortly after 1165.(4)

The church of Scone was amongst those already possessed by the abbey which were granted to it in proprios usus by Bishop Richard of St Andrews in 1172 x 1178.(5)  His grant gave the canons the right to serve the church with a chaplain and exempted them from payment of episcopal and other spiritual dues.  The annexation was confirmed in the same terms by his successors, Bishop Hugh and Bishop William Malveisin, but there is no surviving confirmation by Bishop Roger de Beaumont.(6)  Full appropriation was certainly effective by the 1270s when the church does not appear as either a parsonage or vicarage in the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland.  It was again confirmed to the canons by Bishop William Fraser in 1283,(7) and in 1395 Bishop Walter Traill reconfirmed the full annexation of the revenues of the parish church of Scone and its dependent chapels on account of the poverty of the abbey arising from the great burden of hospitality imposed on it.(8)  The annexation continued at the Reformation, when the vicarage, normally served by a canon, was recorded as worth £23 6s 8d annually.(9)


1. Liber Ecclesie de Scon (Bannatyne Club, 1843), no.1 [hereafter Scone Liber].

2. Scone Liber, no.5.

3. Scone Liber, no.18.

4. Scone Liber, no.26.

5. Scone Liber, no.48.

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

7. Scone Liber, no.117.

8. Scone Liber, no.193.

9. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 333.

Summary of relevant documentation


Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: The church was granted to the priory of Scone on its foundation. Revenues from both parsonage and vicarage remained with the priory, while a canon served the cure.(1)

c.1120 Church of the Holy Trinity given by Alexander I as a residence for the community of canons coming to Scone from Nostell priory (West Yorks).(2)

1172x78 Richard, bishop of St Andrews confirms all the churches given to Scone Alexander I, Malcolm IV and William I and confirmed by his predecessors Roger and Aernald. (Scone confirmed with the chapels of Kinfauns, Crag and Rait) in propros usus with the right to install or remove the chaplain, exempt from all episcopal exactions and customs.(3)

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.(4)

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.(5)

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).(6)

1283 Church included in a further confirmation of the possessions of Scone by William Fraser, bishop of St Andrews.(7)

1395 Church included in confirmation by Walter Trail, bishop of St Andrews, of possessions of Scone in diocese of St Andrews.(8)

1395 Confirmation of grant of the church (and others) in proprios usus to Scone to help meet needs of hospitality (church mentioned as already in patronage of Scone by royal grant).(9)


Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church referred to as a church belonging to the abbey of Scone, vicarage value £23 6s 8d.(10)

1605 Order by Lord Scone to his Chamberlain to pay to the ministers, leaders and kirkmasters of the parish of Scone 500 marks Scots, part of the 100 marks Scots which he had promised to them to build a church on the hill of Scone.(11)

1623 (26 Nov) the minister of Scone, David Weymess, to build a new manse, eventual cost worked out as 500 marks.(12)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Robert Thomas, Preacher of the Gospel), 1791): ‘The church is a very handsome modern building… It was built in 1784’.(13)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev James Craik, 1843): ‘The church was moved from Old Scone to New Scone in 1804, with the same materials used where possible’.(14)

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches (George Hay): 1804; with 1784 belfry; 1834 aisle, 1616 Stormont pew, refurnished.(15)


1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 181.

2. Scone Liber, no. 1.

3. Scone Liber, no. 48.

4. Scone Liber, no. 50.

5. Scone Liber, no.53 & 54.

6. Scone Liber, no. 103.

7. Scone Liber, no. 117.

8. Scone Liber, no. 193.

9. CPL, Ben, 48.

10. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 333.

11. NRS Papers of the Smythe Family of Methven, Perthshire, GD190/1/4.

12. NRS Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-1647, CH2/299/1, fols. 95 & 100.

13. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), xviii, 76.

14. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1843), 1072.

15. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 197, 198 & 270.


NRS Papers of the Smythe Family of Methven, Perthshire, GD190/1/4.

NRS Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-1647, CH2/299/1.

Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1976, ed. F. McGurk, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

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

Hay, G., 1957, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, 1560-1843, Oxford.

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

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

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

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

Architectural description

The parish was granted to the Augustinian abbey of Scone at its foundation in about 1120 by Alexander I, along with its chapels of Kinfauns, Craig and Rait; the cure was served by one of the abbey’s canons.(1) It is likely that the medieval parishioners had their place of worship in the abbey church, and presumably in its nave.

Until recently very little was known about the abbey church, other than what could be learned from a small number of documentary references and a few ex situ carved and moulded fragments set out within rockeries around the gardens of Scone Palace. However, geophysical work carried out in 2007,(2) supported by some archaeological excavation, has established the likely outlines of the plan. This work has suggested that in its final state the abbey was a cruciform building with aisles flanking all but the eastern part of the eastern limb, the east side of the transepts, and the full length of the nave, with what could have been a sacristy against the south choir aisle and the cloister against the south side of the nave.

The abbey church was badly damaged on 26 and 27 June 1559, in the prelude to the Reformation,(3) and it is unclear to what extent parochial worship within it continued to be possible. However, it is probably significant that, at the time that the abbacy was erected into a temporal lordship for David Murray, Lord Scone,(4) he arranged in 1605 for payments to made for the construction of a church that he had undertaken to build on the hill at Scone,(5) presumably in reference to the Moot Hill. This may suggest that Lord Scone wished to remove what remained of the damaged abbey church from the policies of the fine house he was creating for himself, around the nucleus of what had probably been the late medieval commendator’s residence.

Lord Scone, who was in 1621 elevated to the viscountcy of Stormont, chose to have a monument for himself erected in a purpose built mausoleum. This mausoleum is now a free-standing Gothic revival structure with pinnacle-capped octagonal corner turrets on the summit of Moot Hill, which owes its appearance to works carried out by the architect William Atkinson in 1807. But it is almost certain that it was initially an aisle projecting from the west flank of the parish church he had previously built.

Support for this comes from a drawing for the mausoleum amongst Atkinson’s papers, dating from the time that he was rebuilding the adjacent house in 1803-12. This shows that he was to encase three existing walls within the structure that he was proposing to clad in an imposing new Gothic skin; the fourth wall, to the east, was where the structure would have adjoined the church.

In any case, it is hard to conceive that the structure could be in origin other than of the early seventeenth century, since its interior is dominated by the extraordinary monument to viscount Stormont. This was ordered from the sculptor Maximilian Colt on 29 February 1618, thirteen years before Stormont’s death,(6) presumably to ensure that Stormont’s wishes for it were fully carried out. It might be added that within the mausoleum, built into the east wall, are relocated gablets bearing the date 1618 and the initials DLS (for David Lord Stormont), which perhaps came from the aisle’s original wall head.

The monument depicts the kneeling figure of Stormont set within a triumphal arch flanked by armed figures, and with his arms in a tablet above the arch. A closely related monument was commissioned from the same sculptor for the first earl of Dunbar, and is to be seen in the rebuilt church there.(7)

It was presumably for the church on the Moot Hill that an opulent oak family pew was created in 1616; it is now in the church at New Scone, and – according to a brass plate that has been placed on the pew – it was given to Lord Stormont by Queen Anne of Denmark. The pew has doubtlessly been modified in the course of a succession of moves it has undergone, and as a result of more recent restoration, though its decorative elements are presumably authentic. The superstructure has two armorial panels capped by broken pediments and flanked by volutes and pinnacles, and is carried on six slender fluted shafts.

The pew and monument indicate a desire to establish an impressive statement of Stormont’s elevated standing to his fellow parishioners when at worship, and also a reminder of that standing after his death. This was presumably also a consideration on the part of his successors in 1784, when they decided that the church should be rebuilt,(8) since it seems that it was relocated to a site further removed from the house than the church on Moot Hill.

The church is thought to have been re-sited to the village of Scone as it then existed. This was probably a short distance beyond the wall and towered gate that marked the entrance to the first Viscount’s policies, and that may have perpetuated the line of the medieval monastic precinct. The village churchyard’s site is thought to be commemorated by a table tomb in woodland to the north of the road that runs through the policies towards New Scone.(9) The family pew, which evidently continued to be regarded as a potent reminder of the family’s ancestry, was relocated to this church.(10)

The church was not to remain on that site for long. As part of the considerations associated with rebuilding on a great scale the house (that was coming to be known as a palace) to the designs of William Atkinson in the early years of the nineteenth century, improvements were also planned to the policies. It was decided that the village and its church should be moved to an even greater distance from the house, to what is now New Scone. A church was built there in 1804, using the materials of the church of 1784,(11) though some of the materials must have been earlier than that, since below the bellcote there is a tablet inscribed D V Stormont 1724.

As built in 1804 the church was of rectangular plan, but it was expanded to a T-plan when a new north aisle was added in 1834-4 by the younger John Bell.(12) The Stormont family pew must already have been transferred to the new church when it was first built, but was to be moved yet again, to the north end of the new aisle.


1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 181.

2. Oliver J.T O’Grady, Moothill and Abbey Archaeological Survey Scone Project, Preliminary Report on Geophysical Survey, unpublished report, July 2007.

3. Richard Fawcett, ‘The Buildings of Scone Abbey’, in Richard Welander, David J. Breeze and Thomas Owen Clancy, eds, The Stone of Destiny, Artefact and Icon, Edinburgh, 2003, pp. 168-80 at pp. 172-75.

4. Ian B. Cowan and David E. Easson, Medieval Religious Houses, Scotland, London and new York, 1976, p. 98.

5. National records of Scotland, Papers of the Smythe Family of Methven, Perthshire GD190/1/4.

6. David Howarth, ‘Sculpture and Scotland 1540-1700’, in Fiona Pearson, ed., Virtue and Vision, Sculpture and Scotland, Edinburgh (National Galleries of Scotland), 1991, pp. 27-30.

7. Gordon Donaldson, ‘The Dunbar Monument in its Historical Setting’, in Dunbar Parish Church 1342-1987, pp. 1-16; Deborah Howard, Scottish Architecture from the Reformation to the Restoration, 1560-1660, Edinburgh, 1995, pp. 203-04.

8. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 18, p. 76.

9. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, South-East Perth, an Archaeological Landscape, Edinburgh, 1994, pp. 124-27.

10. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 18, p. 76.

11. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 11834-45, vol. 10, p. 1077.

12. John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Perth and Kinross, New Haven and London, 2007, p. 558.



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

  • 1. Scone Chapel on, Moot Hill, exterior, 2

  • 2. Scone Chapel on, Moot Hill, exterior, 1

  • 3. Scone Chapel on, Moot Hill, exterior, 3

  • 4. Scone Chapel on, Moot Hill, interior, dated gablet

  • 5. Scone Chapel on, Moot Hill, interior, Stormont Monument, 1

  • 6. Scone Chapel on, Moot Hill, interior, Stormont Monument, 2

  • 7. Scone Chapel on, Moot Hill, interior, Stormont Monument, 3

  • 8. Scone Church, exterior, 1

  • 9. Scone Church, exterior, 2

  • 10. Scone Church, exterior, 3

  • 11. Scone Church, exterior, inscription below bellcote

  • 12. Scone Church, interior, Stormont Pew, 1

  • 13. Scone Church, interior, Stormont Pew, 2

  • 14. Scone Church, interior, Stormont Pew, 3

  • 15. Scone Church, interior, Stormont Pew, 4

  • 16. Scone, possible site of church

  • 17. Scone Abbey, ex situ fragment, 1

  • 18. Scone Abbey, ex situ fragments, 2

  • 19. Scone Abbey, ex situ fragment, 3

  • 20. Scone Abbey, ex situ fragments, 4