A traditional Parish Church built on the site of an old standing stone.
Glenshee Kirk is built on the site of a late Neolithic, early Bronze Age (c 3,000 – c 2,100 BC) standing stone, which can still be seen behind the Church.
It is a good example of a traditional parish church typical of the remoter parts of Scotland, bare and simple with the honest austerity of its time. Services are still held at the church, including a Christmas Day service and its scenic setting makes it a popular wedding venue.
The name Glenshee comes from the Gaelic word shith which signifies fairies and the story of how the Kirk came to be built on this site, told by the Rev. T.A. Miller is his ‘Tales of a Highland Parish’ is full of enchantment:
“The building as it stands today replaced an old and unseemly edifice. It is said that the new Church was originally to have been built at Runavey but the fairies did not approve of this and when the masons started building they came by night and pulled down what had been built up and this was continued night after night until the committee realised the futility of opposing the wishes of the “little folks” and the church was built on the spot of the previous house of worship.”
It is worth noting that the standing stone would have been visible from nearby the Four Poster Stone Circle called Diarmuid’s Tomb, before the Church was built.
This charming Kirk sits in a spectacular location on the banks of the Shee Water at the foot of Glen Lochsie, Glen Taitney and Ben Gulabin. The Church of Scotland still holds services here and is under the charge of the Rattray minister.
The stained glass windows are interesting – they have an inscription at their base that reads “To the glory of God and in loving memory of James Campbell”. James Campbell had been born in the glen but left at the age of eighteen to go cattle ranching in Australia where he was very successful. He always intended returning to his native glen but never managed to. In order to ensure that his family name continued, he decided to fund two stained glass windows and sent a letter back to Scotland with his instructions. Unfortunately, these were misinterpreted and instead of a dedication to his family, it became a memorial to him. This made him one of the few people who had a memorial erected whilst still living.
The oldest stones in the graveyard are mostly rough hill stones, laid flat and marked by initials and dates only. The “McT” or “MT”s represent the MacThomas and McIntosh families, the”R”s are Robertsons or Ramsays and the “F”’s are Fergusons.
A few metres to the east of the church is a horizontal stone flush with the ground. This is reckoned to be the oldest marked stone in the kirkyard. The name inscribed is S TII Lyon, died dec 1658 aged 81, though it is now hard to decipher.
There are two Commonwealth War Graves in the graveyard, one from 1917 and one from 1943.