The Ancient Church of Strowan Near Crieff

Strowan Church 

In the 19th century there were  over  940 ecclesiastical parishes in Scotland .These  parishes were administered  by the established church that is  the Kirk or the Presbyterian Church of Scotland who were after the Reformation the successor  to the Catholic Church in Scotland  . In the majority of  cases these parishes had  their origins in pre  Reformation days and  many of the older  parish churches still survive albeit often  in a  ruinous  condition . One  little  gem that remains although in a somewhat ruinous condition  is that of Strowan Church near Crieff .  


Just the walls remain

Baird's Monument close by 


          The over grown entrance to the Kirk
17th century memorial in the church



                                            Memorial in the interior  in Latin  dated 1684                        


The window  on the rear wall above  where the alter would have been located 
Old and new 


Strowan  was a Parish in its own right   until the 1600s when it amalgamated with the adjoining  Parish of Monzievaird to become Monzievaird and Strowan .The  church that exists was erected on the site of an even earlier structure dating  back into the mists of time and  was in probability constructed in the early 17th century .It is dedicated to St Rowan or St Ronan and has around it a  small grave  yard with a variety of stones and memorials many of which are those of the Stirling family , the one time Lairds of Strowan .


 Old Strowan Bridge





Strowan House  showing Strowan Cross - site of the old market 

Strowan Cross


The Cross located east of Strowan House was the centre  point of the annual market and Fair  was  sheltered  by a mature lime tree. The Cross bore the initials JNRN - Jesus  Nazarenus Rex Judorum .



One  reason why Strowan has  survived the vagaries of modernisation is that after the Second World War the old Strowan Bridge was  demolished as being “ unsafe “ A new bridge and road were constructed some  distance downstream  from the original this physically isolating the old kirk from easy access .



 One of the many interesting features  one stumbles across at Strowan




It has a beautiful serenity and  views  towards the Baird Monument close by to the east . Access is by means  of what is sign posted  as “ Private Access “ being the  approach to Strowan House  and is in fact the old public highway . Drive out of Crieff on the A85 Comrie road and turn left at Monzievaird  along the unscheduled road and cross the new bridge .  Park  your  car in the  lay by on the south side of the new bridge and  walk  the 100 yards  to the old church . It is well worth the effort !





A microcosm of the past 



Apart  from the historical and religious fascination of the  old Church in its  secluded  setting , there are a  number of other interesting tales  concerning the Parish itself . The founder of the Parish was  one  St Rowan who  was also its tutelar Saint . He left  bell to it and three acres of land for the support of the bellman . The early “ bellmen “ were the dewars or keepers of the bell  and the name itself is noted  in Scottish 20th Century  annals  as  the surname of one of the founders of the  re – convened  Scottish Parliament - the late Donald Dewar .

Other local memorials to the Saint survive . The Pool of St Rowan is a deep pool in the River Earn  about 100 yards upstream from the old bridge of Strowan .In addition there is a fine spring of water close by the House known as St Rowan’s Well .
Although the  Church ceased  to function as  such in 1804  when it amalgamated  with the parish church of Monzievaird ( pronounced " Monie - vaird  " !!! ) its history extends   far  back into the mists  of early Celtic Christianity . The Latin memorial  shown above is dated 1684. Archaeological research carried  out  indicates that the ruined  church was  rebuilt prior  to that date on the same site  and  in probability goes  back as far as the 12th century or even earlier .
This  is one of the  hidden treasures of Strathearn - easily accessed and  close  by  a host of other " points of interest  " including Baird's Monument - the Pictish , Tom a chastel ( the Royal Palace of Strathearn or Forten ) and of course Samson's Stone on the Laggan walk !



 





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