Buttergill / (Burghill) Parish Church

Burghill Church site, Brechin Castle, offices

Summary description

No structural remains, and the precise location is uncertain.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

The history of this church and parish is utterly obscure.  Named in Bagimond’s Roll in the late thirteenth century but assigned no value, the parish revenues may already have been annexed to support a prebend in the cathedral church at Brechin.(1)  It had certainly been so annexed by 1372, when a prebend of Buttergill is named in the constitution of the cathedral, supported on both parsonage and vicarage revenues.(2

It remained so annexed at the Reformation when, held by Robert Abercrombie, it was valued at £73 6s 8d, from which a stallar’s fee of 16 merks was to be deducted for the support of the clerk who filled his place in the choir.(3)  A church, served along with Cookston and Kilmore by the minister John Hepburn, is mentioned in 1587.(4)


1. SHS Misc, vi, 52 [‘Botherker’].

2. Registrum Episcopatus Brechinensis, i, no 15.

3. Kirk (ed), Book of Assumptions, 391.

4. Registrum Episcopatus Brechinensis, ii, 361.

Summary of relevant documentation


Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Both parsonage and vicarage were erected into a prebend of Brechin cathedral in 1372. The charge was served by a curate.(1)

1372 Church recorded as a prebend of the cathedral, held in that year by John de Drum.(2)

1397 John de Innece (archdeacon of Caithness) collated to Bathrugil, which was vacant through the resignation of William de Spyny..(3)

1426 John de Bening (MA, clerk and secretary of James I) collated to the prebend of Burghill.(4)

1434 Exchange between John Wylde (gets Buttergill) and John Fleming for the rectory of Buttergill, described as in lay patronage (value £8).(5)

1439 John Moneypenny proved to prebend, dispensed for being a pluralist (described as nephew of the Marischal of Scotland, Keith?).(6)

1448 Conflict between bishop John de Crannach and his archdeacon and dean over entry fees which were to be used to enlarge choir etc (see Brechin 1435). John Moneypenny holds the prebend of Buttergill.(7)

1465 Litigation between Alexander Scheves (MA) and Patrick Mason, Patrick Cranston then collated by bishop. Alexander eventually wins his suit.(8) [Pope provides Scheves, bishop provides Mason]


Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage and vicarage pertain to Brechin, held by Robert Abercrombie, value £73 6s 8d.(9)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of parsonage £24 8s 10 2/3d.(10)

1566 Grant to John Leslie of the parsonage and vicarage of Buttergill, vacant by death of Robert Abercromby.(11)

1587 Described as one of three churches served by minister John Hepburn (along with Kilmoir and Cookston).(12)

[No references to the parish or church in the statistical accounts]


1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 24.

2. Registrum Brechinensis, i, no. 15.

3. CPL, Ben, 75.

4. CSSR, ii, 141-42.

5. CSSR, iv, no.155.

6. CSSR, iv, nos. 537 & 813.

7. Registrum Brechinensis, i, no. 65.

8. CSSR, v, no. 1045.

9. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices,  391.

10. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 10.

11. Registrum Brechinensis, ii, no. 194.

12. Registrum Brechinensis, ii, no. 368.


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

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1423-28, 1956, ed. A.I. Dunlop, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1433-47, 1983, ed. A.I. Dunlop and D MacLauchlan, Glasgow.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1447-71, 1997, ed. J. Kirk, R.J. Tanner and A.I. Dunlop, Edinburgh.

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

Donaldson, G., 1949, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh

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

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.

Registrum Episcopatus Brechinensis, 1856, ed. C. Innes (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

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

Architectural description

At a date before 1372 the parsonage and vicarage of Buttergill were erected as a prebend of Brechin Cathedral, with the cure subsequently thought to have been served by a curate.(1) The parish was united with that of Brechin at date before 1574 and the church subsequently abandoned. Nothing is thought to survive of the church, and its precise location is unknown, though it seems possible that it was in the vicinity of Burghill Farm, and a location has been suggested at around NO 6020 5925.(2)


1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 24.

2. Scottish Urban Archaeological Trust Ltd, Historic Brechin, the Archaeological Implications of Development, a Scottish Burgh Survey Update, Historic Scotland, 1998, p. 25.



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

  • 1. Burghill Church site, Brechin Castle, offices