The ruins of the medieval Kinkell Church can be found close to the east bank of the River Don, some two miles south of the centre of Inverurie.
Finding the church can be something of a challenge. Tourist direction signs correctly steer you onto minor roads south of the B993 at a sharp bend not far past the entrance to Keith Hall. But there is nothing to tell you you should also carry straight on the next time the road you are on takes a sharp left, half a mile further on. You should do so anyway. The church itself lies close to the access to a large farm, and behind a row of cottages, so careful parking is recommended.
As you enter the churchyard, your main impression is of the huge paper mills on the west bank of the River Don, whose presence very much dominates the whole of the river valley. There's a slight irony in this. A group of the few graves in the churchyard mark the last resting place of a number of members of the Tait family, the family which founded the paper mills in Inverurie and went on to own them for 137 years.
Kinkell Church was dedicated to St Michael. Long and narrow, it seems to have been rebuilt from a rather older church some time around 1520. The building has been carefully consolidated and rendered, giving it an appearance that seems slightly too perfect for a ruin, though what you see today seems to be much as it appeared in the 1890s when Kinkell Church was visited and parts of it drawn for MacGibbon & Ross's "The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland."
Many modern visitors are probably surprised by the apparent complete lack of windows or doors in the north wall of the church: just as MacGibbon & Ross were over a century ago.
Kinkell Church continued as a place of worship until 1771, when the parish it served was spilt and divided between Kintore and Keithhall. Much of the church itself was demolished at the time to provide materials for the church at Keithhall. What was left has stood as a ruin ever since.
At the west end of the church visitors can view a large collection of stone fragments, some of which give some sense of the degree of ornamentation once on show here. But the main area of interest lies towards the east end of the church. Here a modern perspex roof protects from further weathering a sacrament house. It is dated 1524 and carries the initials AG, thought to refer to Canon Alexander Galloway, rector of the church for many years during the first half of the 1500s and a man also associated with St Machar's Cathedral in Aberdeen.
Nearby is a replica brass panel showing the crucifixion and dated 1525, also carrying the initials AG in several places. It would seem that Canon Galloway had rather less humility than might normally be expected in a man of his profession.
Standing near the north wall and towards the east end of the interior of the church is one of the most remarkable grave slabs you will find anywhere. Made from an oddly yellowish stone, one side of this carries an incredibly intricate and detailed carving of a knight. The knight depicted was Gilbert de Greenlaw, who died at the Battle of Harlaw, a little to the north of Inverurie, on 24 July 1411. The stone is his grave slab.
Two things are immediately odd about it. One is the freshness of the carving, the other that the carving of Greenlaw stops just above his knees. Both are explained by the slab being reused for a member of the Forbes family in 1592. This led to it being cut down in size, but it also led to the side of the stone showing the knight being protected from the elements, which over the following centuries would almost certainly have weathered it to invisibility.