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Keig Old Kirk

The Keig Old Kirk is now a roofless ruin but once served a parish that included the tenants and staff of Castle Forbes. The old kirkyard is still the resting place for some of the clan chiefs, including James, 15th Lord Forbes; James, 16th Lord Forbes; Horace Courtenay, 19th Lord Forbes; Atholl Monson, 20th Lord Forbes; and Atholl Lawrence Cunyngham, 21st Lord Forbes.

Before the 12th century, the parish of Keig was a monastery of the Culdees, based on the Gaelic “Céilí Dé” or spouses of God. "The 12th century, particularly in Scotland and Brittany, was a time when two Christian faiths of different origins were contending for possession of the land, the Roman Church and the old Celtic Rite. The age was a sort of borderland between Culdeeism and Romanism." (Wylie, A.J.; History of the Scottish Nation, Vol. III., 1886) By 1245, the parish was absorbed into the Augustinian Priory of Monymusk. In the 15th century, the secular control of the priory was held by commendators who were primarily members of the Forbes family. In 1617, the priory was incorporated into the lands of the Episcopalian bishopric of Dunblane. (The New Statistical Account of Scotland, Volume 12, 1845.)

The Keig Old Kirk was built in about 1638. Rather than using a bellcote, the church hung its bell from a nearby tree. The ministers of the kirk were Rev. John Young, a member of Assembly, 1638; Rev. Thomas Forbes; Rev. George Middleton (died 1739); Rev. Alexander Strachan (appointed June 24, 1740); Rev. William Duff (died 1772); Rev. Alexander Smith (appointed December 14, 1774, and died in 1833); and Rev. Alexander Low (appointed 27th June 1834.) (Ibid.)

The church closed in 1835 with the completion of a new church in the village of Keig. The baptismal fount was moved to the courtyard of Castle Forbes. The New Keig Kirk was constructed of pink granite blocks with a distinctive base course in grey granite. The kirk was renovated in 1891 and was altered again in 1902. The church is now owned by the Friends of Keig Kirk and is included in the Howe Trinity Parish, which includes Alford and Tullynessle and Forbes.

Most of the grave markers of the old kirkyard are worn with age and some are barely legible. The more notable markers include:

  • Sacred to the memory of ATHOLL LAWRENCE CUNYNGHAM 22nd BARON FORBES born Sept 1882 died November 26th 1953 and to his wife MABEL born July 18th 1882 died March 21st 1972.

  • LOUISA widow of WALTER XIXth LORD FORBES born NOV 6th 1838 died Jan 26th 1921.

  • Here by his appointment is interred the Rt Hon JAMES XVIth LORD FORBES who died Feb 20th MDCCLXI in the LXXlll year of his age at Putachie the place of his birth.

  • HORACE COURTENAY XXth LORD FORBES born Feb 24th 1829 died June 23rd 1914.

  • JAMES XVIIth LORD FORBES born 1725 died July 29th 1804 and CATHERINE INNES his wife born 1740 died April 16th 1805.

  • ATHOLL MONSON XXIst LORD FORBES born at Castle Forbes 15th Feb 1841 died Jan 31st 1916 and MARGARET ALICE DICK_CUNYNGHAM his wife born March 11th 1853 died Feb 6th 1943.

(Note that some of the numbering of the lords use a system that was revised in 1955.)

For a map and complete listing of all memorials, download Keig Old Kirkyard.

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