Aberdeen City HER - NJ90SE0001 - ST FITTICK'S CHURCH

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Main Details

Primary ReferenceNJ90SE0001
NRHE Card No.NJ90SE1
NRHE Numlink 20234
HES SM No. 10400
Site Form Standing Structure
Site Condition Incomplete
Details Remains of a church, the former parish church of Nigg founded between 1189 and 1199. This parish church formed part of William the Lion's generous endowments to his newly founded Abbey of Aberbrothoc (or Arbroath as it is now known), in the late twelfth century. It is unclear exactly when the first 'ecclesiam de nygg.' was built, but it probably dates to the late twelfth century. The church was later dedicated by Bishop de Bernham in the 1240's. It remained under the superiority of the Abbot of Arbroath until the reformation. The church is dedicated to St Fittick, although there is no such a person as St Fittick per se. Rather 'he' is an amalgam of two other saints, being St Fotin and St Fiacre. Although there has been a church on this site since about the late twelfth century the extant ruins probably date to either the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. It is a roofless building which has been harled in the 20th century. The ruins feature a possible chain for a jougs, or scold's bridle, a form of ecclesiastical punishment for women and gossips. Ogilvie in the Book of St Fittick gives a sketch of the belfry before it was covered in ivy which shows an inscription on the structure. It reads 'M M MINISTER 1704' M M probably stands for Richard Maitland, who was minister there in the late 17th and early 18th century. The vane from the top of the belfry, according to one source, was dated 1763. Inside the church ruins is a stone basin which may have been a baptismal font (another is in the collections of Marischal Museum). One of the windows on the west side of the building is sometimes referred to as a 'leper squint' (hagioscope). This would have allowed a glimpse of the altar for those outside of the church during mass. It is unlikely that this is what it was, especially if this version of the church dates to the 17th or 18th centuries. Moreover the leperhouse in Aberdeen was located some distance from the church, in fact on the street known as Spital, between New and Old Aberdeen. Throughout the medieval and early modern periods the church served the surrounding communities of Upper and Lower Torry, Balnagask, Tullos and all the scattered hamlets of the area down the coast of, what was formerly Kincardineshire, to Cove. Indeed people from Cove were carried to the graveyard of St Fittick's for interment. An 18th century map of Tullos Hill shows what is called 'Cove resting cairn' which no doubt was a place where the funeral party would stop for a rest whilst bearing the corpse to St. Fittick's. The church itself was in use until 1829 when a new church was built. A need for a new church emerged as the population of the area grew: there was a growing need to build a new church in a more suitable location for the developing communities that it served. A number of items have survived from St Fittick's church. Two silver communion beakers exist in the collections of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums. They were made by George Walker and purchased with funds raised in 1703 Easter collections in St Fittick's Church. An inscription, repeated on each, reads 'This cup with its followe-ware acquyred out of the extraordinarie collections got at Easter in the church of Nigg under the ministrie of Master Richard Maitland Anno 1703'. Whilst a bell from the church survives and is on display in Torry St Fittck's Church. The bronze bell was made by John Mowat in Old Aberdeen in 1759 for £153 4 shillings. The upper inscription, in Latin, tells that the bell was made by John Mowat in Old Aberdeen in 1759. The lower inscription reads 'Sabata pango funra plango'; 'Sabbaths I proclaim, funerals I toll'. The records of the church are very well preserved: pre reformation material survived through the churches association with Arbroath Abbey, whilst the post reformation Kirk Session records are also very complete. Three of Dr Cruden's (minister there from 1768-1826) commonplace books survive: they contain mostly notes on sermons but also extensive records of what crops he planted on his glebe as well as notes on his wider reading. In 1829 the church finally closed with Nigg Church was opened. At that time the roof was removed but the walls left intact. Standing building survey of the church and watcher house, and graveyard recording, was carried out in 2004. The churchyard contains a single Commonwealth war grave of the First World War.
Last Update29/09/2023
Updated Bycpalmer
Date of Compilation13/09/2017

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National Grid Reference: NJ 9627 0496

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