Auchterless Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NJ 71370 41580, map


AB53 8BA


Auchterless Parish Church is a large, striking building set within a large graveyard and alongside the ruins of the previous church. The church and graveyard are located on the eastern side of the linear village of Kirkton of Auchterhouse. It was built in the late 19th century to replace the older, much smaller church.

Description (exterior)

The church consists of a large, tall tower, nave, transepts and halls, and was built in roughly-coursed rubble with contrasting red sandstone ashlar dressings and surrounds. The large double-pitched roofs are slated. 


The principle elevation is the west gable of the nave and the attached tower. The nave gable has twin recessed pointed-arch doorways with chamfered margins. Above is a very large pointed-arch window with plate tracery, which includes a round opening with cinqfoils and three lancet (pointed-arch) openings. The glass in this window, like that of most of the other windows in the church, is latticed with small leaded panes. High in the gablehead are three trefoil-headed vent openings and on top of the apex is a small cross finial.


The large tower is attached to the south. It has three stages and thin corner buttresses. The lowest stage at groundfloor level has a pair of lancet windows on the west face and the south face has an early 18th century sandstone memorial tablet to Alex Ross, minister of Auchterless. The second stage of the tower, slightly narrower than the stage below, has tall, narrow lancet windows on each face. Above is the small belfry stage, which has pairs of thick, louvered lancet openings with slender hoodmoulds. On top of the belfry are large pointed pinnacles with gables inbetween in which are small metal clockfaces. Rising from the tower is a tall, slender octagonal spire, built of ashlar granite with sandstone dressings. It was added to the church twenty years after being built and makes the church a landmark in the area. The spire has decorative gablets or lucarnes half way up and towards the top are a pair of wide stringcourses with quatrefoil openings inbetween. Mounted on top of the spire is a large metal weather cock.


The nave of the church has four lancet windows with stepped buttresses inbetween. A recess in the north-west corner of the church has a small side doorway with a slate roof. The transepts of the church are built towards the east end. They have stepped buttresses and a plate-traceried rose window and quatrefoil vent in the gables. The side walls of the transepts have pairs of lancets with a round window above. 


The rear (east) of the church has a central gable inbetween the transepts, which has a large, central rose window with quatrefoil plate tracery. Built onto the gable is an annex, comprising a vestry and session house and a larger hall attached to the east. This annex is single-storey with slate roofs and pointed-arch windows, along with pointed-arch side doors. 

Description (interior)

The interior of the church could not be recorded during an initial visit, but will be added shortly. 

People / Organisations:

A H L MackinnonArchitect, built the spire1896
William and John SmithArchitects of the church1877-9


  • Church built (1877 to 1979)
  • Church spire built (1896)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 3940
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 3044C(S)-listed
Record of St Andrews: St Leonard's ChurchReference: RCAHMS NJ74SW 53
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 159594

Bibliographic References:

The Third Statistical Account of Scotland: The County of Aberdeen1960p682