Kildrummy Kirk and Kirkyard stand a little to the west of the A97 a little over a mile north of Kildrummy Castle. It can be reached by means of a narrow single track road that also gives access to Bear Lodge, built in 1850 as a manse for the kirk, and now a private residence.
Even from the main road it is obvious that the kirk and kirkyard are out of the ordinary. Kildrummy Kirk as you see it today dates back to 1805. It is a very unusual shape for a church, being rectangular with a bowed north front.
It is unclear why this is. Perhaps the laird of the day simply wanted something a little different. Or perhaps, as one local story goes, the builders started off using in error the plans for a mill, with the mistake only being discovered when it was too late to start again from scratch.
To the south of the 1805 kirk is the old kirkyard, which comes with a large and fascinating collection of old gravestones and the remnants of the Old Kirk of St Bride, the church that was replaced in 1805. Many of the standing gravestones are themselves interesting, but still more so are the lines of gravestones from the 1700s and early 1800s that have been laid around the steep-sided hill and, in places, reused as pavements. This may seem poor treatment of stones that will be regarded by future generations in much the way we regard Pictish symbol stones: but at least one side of each of the stones remains visible, and they have not simply been cleared away or destroyed as has all too often happened in other Scottish kirkyards.
There are two main structures still standing on the hill. One is a porch built in 1605 for the existing kirk and later re-used as a burial enclosure. On the walls and floor are a series of superb old grave slabs. Nearby is what looks like it might have originally been the north wall of the older kirk, which now simply stands in isolation.
An old memorial is built into part of this, while another part houses an arched recess, now protected from the elements by wooden doors, in which you find the beautiful effigies of the 4th Laird of Brux and his wife, dating from the 1400s, plus a grave slab dated November 1730 commemorating James Lumsden. The Lumsdens continued to be buried here until relatively recent times. A nearby military grave commemorates Private C Lumsden of the Gordon Highlanders, who died on 31 March 1921.
Opinions differ about the origin of the mound on which the old kirkyard stands. According to one account this has been the site of a series of churches stretching all the way back to one established here by King Bridei I of the Picts in 581. According to other sources, the mound is actually a motte, on which a precursor to Kildrummy Castle stood until the latter was built in about 1250. What is clear is that there has been a church standing here since at least as far back as the early 1300s, originally called the Chapel of the Lochs. This later became the Kirk of St Bride, and was altered on a number of occasions.
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Grid Ref: NJ 576 037