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St Vigean/St Fechin, St Vigeans, Angus

(56°34′36″N, 2°35′24″W)
St Vigeans, church
NO 6384 4291
pre-1975 traditional (Scotland) Angus
now Angus
medieval St. Andrews
now n/a
  • James King
  • James King
14 Aug 2019

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=107658.

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The church of St Vigeans is built at the top of a large mound alongside the river Brothock. Originally single aisled, N and S aisles were added later. Later still, in the 19thc, an additional aisle was built onto the N side of the church. The W tower, although medieval, was also a later addition. On the S exterior of this a cushion capital was re-used. On an interior doorway to the tower stairs is a re-used chevron voussoir. A number of incised crosses, believed to be consecration crosses, also exist, all with the same type of cross. By 1720, the church had fallen into disrepair, and some remedial work seems to have been undertaken. But in 1754 it was again declared ruinous and required further repairs, most of which would appear to have involved the roof. Further changes to the church took place in the late 18thc and early 19thc, but in 1871-72 the church was extensively restored and additions made, including an eastern apse. Three 12thc voussoirs were found built into the S aisle walling.


Before the Reformation, the village of St Vigeans was known as Aberbrothock, and the dedication to St Vigean is thought by some to be the result of the names Vigianus and Vigiani being Latin for St Fechin of Fohbar (or Fore), an Irish saint (d. 664). Hector Boece, however, wrote in 1526 that Vigianus was a Scottish saint from the 10thc. Numerous Pictish stones have been found at the church of St Vigeans in Angus, which testify to it being an important religious site at least as early as the late 8thc. In the 12thc the church was re-built, and certain carved stones from this survive. A number of early stones were also used in this structure. The earliest documentary evidence for the church comes in 1178, when King William granted the shire of Arbroath to his new abbey of Arbroath. Following this, there are a number of further documents which confirm that St Vigeans' church was included. In 1242, David de Bernham, bishop of St Andrews, consecrated St Vigeans' church, as well as various other churches in the diocese of St Andrews, following the 1139 legatine council in Edinburgh, where a statute was made that all churches be consecrated properly. In 1485, the church was again consecrated, after additions had been made to it. Prior to the Reformation, St Vigeans was the parish church for Arbroath.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Duke suggested that the voussoirs which were found in the S aisle wall were carved in the first half of the 12thc. He also proposed that the stone carved with a chevron pattern and staff was from a tomb of the Romanesque period. Duke further stated that the various surviving consecration crosses were carved for the 1242 consecration. Fawcett et. al. have suggested a date in the second quarter of the 12thc for the Romanesque church. Other Romanesque carved stones from the church are described on the CRSBI site for the museum of St Vigeans.


A. Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History 2, Edinburgh, 1922, 522.

J. Anderson, Scotland in Early Christian Times, Edinburgh, 1881, 49-56.

Bannatyne Club, Liber S. Thome de Aberbrothoc, 1, Edinburgh, 1848, 3-8 no. 1, 101 no. 146, 104 no. 150, 105-6 no. 152, and 168-70 no. 23.

H. Boece, Scotorum historiae a prima gentis origine, Paris, 1526, bk 11 fol. CCXLII r.

I. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland, Edinburgh, 1967, 178-9.

W. Duke, ‘Notice of the Fabric of St Vigeans Church; with Notice and Photographs of Early Sculptured Stones Recently Discovered there’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 9 pt. 2 (Edinburgh, 1873), 481-98.

R. Fawcett, J. Luxford, R. Oram and T. Turpie, Corpus of Scottish Medieval Parish Churches, http://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/corpusofscottishchurches

R. Fawcett, The Architecture of the Scottish Medieval Church 1100-1560, London, 2011, 339-40.

J. Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland: Dundee and Angus (New Haven and London, 2012), 665-668.

A Jervise, Memorials of Angus and the Mearns, 1 (2nd edn.) Edinburgh, 1885, 239-40 and fn. 2.

A. Jervise, Memorials of Angus and the Mearns, 2 (2nd edn.), Edinburgh, 1885, 312 and 310-12 Appendix XX.

D. MacGibbon and T. Ross, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, 3, Edinburgh, 1897, 459-62.

National Records of Scotland, Ordnance Survey Name Books: Forfarshire, 80 (1857-61), 37, 38, 89, 91 and 93-95.