Holidays in Glenlivet

Visitor Guide

Churches and other Religious Sites

Churches and other Religious Sites

 in Glenlivet and the Cairngorms, Aberdeenshire, Grampian,

Moray, Nairn and Inverness-shire


Reviewed Jan-Feb 2018

Please e-mail us with any comments, reports on broken links, suggestions or questions


The most important religious site in Glenlivet itself is the old Scalan Seminary.  After the Reformation, a number of Scots Colleges were established on the Continent to train Scottish Catholics for the priesthood.  When Scottish Bishops were eventually reappointed, they set up a number of tiny seminaries, mostly in the West Highlands, but the most important and lasting of these was at Scalan in the Braes of Glenlivet.  Most students completed their courses in Europe, but a couple least were ordained at Scalan without study abroad.  Once the laws against Roman Catholicism were largely abolished, the Seminary moved to Aberdeenshire in 1799.      Scalan Website


There are other interesting churches mentioned in the Towns and Villages Section.




The Scalan  (Braes of Glenlivet)                                                                 0.15  

Scalan Webpage for History and Description of the Building

Bing Images for Scalan Seminary

The original building was raided by Government troops in 1726 and 1728 and burned to the ground after Culloden.  The laws against Roman Catholicism were rarely enforced with any rigour after that, and today’s more substantial building was erected in 1767.   The building has been much restored in recent years and gives a fascinating insight into the lives of its occupants in these times.

Open throughout the year at all times.




Ardclach Church and Bell Tower                                                                  0.56              (between Grantown and Nairn)

Historic Scotland Webpage for Ardclach 

Undiscovered Scotland Webpage for Ardclach

Neither the Church nor the Bell Tower are that exciting, but they lie in a beautiful location and are worth the short detour if you are traveling along the Grantown/Nairn road – nice spot for a picnic.  The Church, which hasn't been used since 1956 and is sadly all boarded up, lies on a piece of flat land beside the River Findhorn in quite a deep, narrow valley, and there are a couple of real hairpin bends down to it.  The tower at the top of the hill was originally used as a lookout tower and prison before the Church was allowed to put its bell in it so that it could be heard further afield.  This was an important crossing point on the Findhorn, and you can still see the remains of the bridge that was washed away in the Muckle Spate of 1829.

Open, free of charge, all year round.



Barevan Church    (near Cawdor Castle)                                                               1.00

Firths Celtic Scotland Webpage for Barevan - you'll need to click on "Barevan" in the menu

Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments webpage for Barevan

This medieval ruin is worth a visit if you're in the vicinity.  Last used as a parish church in 1619, but the Cawdor congregation still hold an annual, open air service here.  It's a beautifully peaceful place and obviously still cared for with its neatly mown graveyard - the present Dowager Duchess of Cawdor has buried her parents and her late husband here and presumably also commissioned the sculpture.  There's also a magnificent old Spanish Chestnut growing in one corner.




The Collegiate Church of St Duthac  (Tain)                                1.53   TA

Highland Council Notes

Historic Scotland Note on The Church

Description and History

Built between 1370 and 1460 to house the shrine of St.Duthac, this is a

beautiful building with a marvellous atmosphere inside.  Before the

Reformation, it was a popular place of pilgrimage, not least for James IV who visited it on many occasions.  Abandoned in 1815 and left to decay, it was renovated and returned as nearly as possible to its original form towards the

end of the century – along with some beautiful stained glass windows.

The Church precincts include a fascinating Pilgrimage Centre and a Museum which includes  fine exhibits of Tain Silverware.

Open April to October: Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm.

Also open on Saturdays from June to August

01862 811 275


Tain is certainly a long way from Glenlivet, but if you’ve made it north of Inverness, it’s certainly worth a visit – Glenmorangie Distillery is also here.

And - if you’ve made it that far, Dornoch isn’t that much further with its

beautiful Cathedral and a local museum.

Undiscovered Scotland Webpage for Tain

Undiscovered Scotland Webpage for Dornoch

Undiscovered Scotland Webpage for Dornoch Cathedral

Dornoch History Links Museum Website




Pluscarden  (near Elgin)                                                                             0.47   TA

Pluscarden Abbey Website

Undiscovered Scotland Webpage for Pluscarden Abbey

Founded in 1230, it is the only medieval monastery in Britain still inhabited

by monks and being used for its original purpose.

Open daily from 4:30am to 8:30pm -

See this Abbey website page for visiting details



Elgin Cathedral                                                                       0.46   TA

Historic Scotland Webpage for Elgin Cathedral

Undiscovered Scotland Webpage for Elgin Cathedral

Bing Images for Elgin Cathedral

Historic Scotland

One of Scotland’s most beautiful medieval buildings and its largest cathedral after St.Andrews.  Quite a magnificent ruin, much dating back to the 13th century, with one of country’s finest octagonal chapter house and lots of beautifully carved stonework.  You can climb 141 steps right to the top of the north west tower – worth doing just to see the scale of the lead work which weatherproofs both of the western towers.

The history of the cathedral is explained in a series of boards in the ground floor of the South west tower.

Opening times - last ticket sold 30 min before closing time.

1 April - 30 September: daily from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm

October - March: daily from 10.00 to 4.00 pm

Closed 25-26th December and 1st-2nd January

Check website for unscheduled closures

01343 547 171



Deer Abbey  (Mintlaw west of Peterhead)                                       1.38

Historic Scotland Webpage for Deer Abbey

Undiscovered Scotland Webpage for Deer Abbey

Free to visit all year round


Migvie Kirk  (between Strathdon and Ballater)                                      0.49

Undiscovered Scotland Webpage for Migvie Kirk

You’re unlikely to have seen anything like this before.  It’s a deconsecrated church restored by local artists and craftsmen under the patronage of Philip Astor of the surrounding Tillypronie Estate in memory of his parents.  The interior is a beautifully simple, but thought provoking space – see the link for further details and pictures.  There’s also a carved Pictish Stone in the graveyard.

Door always open




Blairs Museum  (just west of Aberdeen)                                                1.38   TA

Blairs Museum Website

Housed in part of Blairs College, the former seminary and school that operated from 1829 to 1986, the museum tells the story of how Scottish Catholicism survived the Reformation.  It has a wonderful collection of fabulously embroidered ecclesiastical robes from as far back as the 15th century as well as gold and silverware and Jacobean memorabilia.  There is also a section on The Scalan.  St.Mary’s Chapel, which adjoins the museum itself, is worth a visit in its own right - a trully wonderful space that will leave a lasting impression on anyone.

Opening times

August and September: Saturday and Sunday from 2.00 to 5.00 pm

Last entry 4.30 pm

Contact by telephone 01224 863767 or e-mail








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