Deer Abbey

Old Deer, Aberdeenshire

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Rt Hon Alex Salmond MP

First Minister of Scotland, 2007 - 2014

Place of Worship
Deer Abbey
Old Deer, Aberdeenshire AB42 5JY

The Book of Deer (or Deir) was written at the Abbey in the tenth century.

It is difficult to choose just one church given the spectacular range of religious buildings in Scotland. From the Italian Chapel in Orkney, the ancient splendour of St Michael's in Linlithgow, the star quality of the Rosslyn Chapel made famous by The Da Vinci Code or the newly opened Gurdwara in Glasgow, there is so much to be proud of.

However, I am delighted to nominate Deer Abbey in Aberdeenshire as one of my favourite places of worship as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the National Churches Trust.

Deer Abbey was founded in 1219 by William Comyn, the Earl of Buchan, who invited the Cistercians at Kinloss Abbey in Moray to establish a daughter house on the site of an earlier monastery founded by St Columba and his disciple St Drostan.

St Columba, whose arrival on Iona 1450 years ago was celebrated on Pentecost Sunday this year, was active in Aberdeenshire.

Deer Abbey was a small community of no more than 15 monks, and the abbey church was cruciform in shape. Its life as a monastery came to an end with the Scottish Reformation of 1560. Although nothing remains of the church other than stonework indicating its outline, occasional services are conducted here in the summer months.

The Book of Deer (or Deir) was written at the Abbey in the tenth century, and includes later additions in Gaelic describing the foundation of the original monastery. It thus contains the earliest written Scottish Gaelic, or common Gaelic, common to Scotland and Ireland. It is therefore historically (although not perhaps artistically) as important as the world famous Book of Kells. The Book of Deer is now in the Cambridge University Library being part of the records of Scotland expropriated by Edward I in 1296. However, some years ago as MP of Banff and Buchan, I played a small part in securing a digital version which is held in the Department of Scots and Irish History at the University of Aberdeen.

I congratulate you on reaching your sixty years of dedicated service ensuring the future of churches, chapels and meeting houses, and wish you a successful anniversary year.

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