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Cateran Ecomuseum

Alyth Arches

The Site of Alyth’s Oldest Christian Church.

From the south side of the Market Cross, a gateway leads to the ‘Auld Kirk Yaird’. Here you can see three imposing old stone arches which formed part of the old parish church. It was abandoned in 1839 when the present fine new church was erected 200 yards to the west. There are also a number of graves, some of which are of notable local people.

This site is probably where the first Christian church in Alyth was built by a contemporary of the Irish missionary Columba, Moluag, an important figure in the early Celtic Church who evangelised the Picts during the 6thcentury.

This first church would have been a very simple wooden structure, probably replaced more than once, before stone came to be used more generally. A portion of what may have been Alyth’s first stone church still stands to this day at the east end of the Arches, a fragment which is thought to date from the thirteenth century.

The three fine arches were built along the north wall of the original church to support an extension which can be dated to around 1500 and remain a very visible feature overlooking Alyth Burn and the modern lower town.

The graveyard is medieval, with its typical hilltop site and surrounding rounded boundary wall.

There are some notable memorials and monuments which provide a tangible link to past events and people.

The Ramsays of Bamff are a landowning family of long standing whose burial chapel lay in the south aisle, now an un-roofed burial enclosure. A member of that family was one of the last people in Scotland to die in a duel. The notorious duellist James Macrae picked a fight with Sir George Ramsay of Bamff over a dispute about a sedan chair. The confrontation took place on Musselburgh Links and Ramsay was killed. Macrae was prosecuted, but escaped to France.

Unfortunately, the site is currently not open to the public.

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