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Valley of Finan


Lumphanan – originally Llanfinan (Valley of Finan) arrived at its present spelling by a tortuous route ie Lanfinan, Lanfanan, Lumfanan, Lumphynnan etc etc.

Since Finan,(1) the early Christian saint established his church here about 1400 years ago, spelling variations can be expected. St Finan’s death has been recorded as 662 and little is know about the next 400 years except that a monastic settlement existed on the same site. The next recorded happening was the death of King Macbeth(2) on 5th December 1056. The place of his burial is not recorded but was most likely to have been in consecrated ground near the church.

A motte and Baillie castle known as “The Peel Ring”(3) was built near St Finan’s Church around 1200. The site is now looked after by “Historic Scotland”. The reformation of the Church of Scotland saw the first Protestant minister in Lumphanan – Rev George Livingstone who was minister for Kincardine O’Neil, Lumphanan, Midmar and Cluny – in order for the minister to perform his duties, a reader called John Mychell was appointed for Lumphanan. In 1762 a new stone and lime church was built at St Finans(4). Patronage of the church at this time belonged to Sir John Forbes of Craigievar. However the matter of patronage came to a head in Scotland in 1843 when many ministers and congregations who could not except patronage broke away from the established church and formed the “Free Kirk”. In Lumphanan the split in the congregation between the “Auld Kirk” and the “Free Kirk” was geographical as well as sociological. With the arrival of the railway in 1859 and the building of the station to the east of St Finans, a new Victorian railway village was established with aspiring business, trade and professional people (free-kirkers) as opposed to those living to the west of St Finans tied to the land and lairds( aul kirkers ) A new free kirk(5) was completed in 1870 in a commanding site overlooking the village. Three years later the Education Act necessitated the building of Lumphanan School for both primary and secondary children – not in the village – but in the “west-side” about a mile and half from the station. To be the “dominie” of Lumphanan School must have been considered a fine, healthy job for over the next 90 years Lumphanan had only three dominies – Messrs McLean, Mudie and Davidson. The year 1913 saw the arrival of the Rev Francis Donald at St Finans, a much loved and respected minister who tended his own flock until 1938 then both his own and the free kirk together until his retiral in 1953. In 1938 the Free Kirk building (Stothert Memorial Church) was closed due to the building being considered unsafe. However in 1948 a committee dedicated to the restoration of Stothert Memorial Church raised the necessary money for repairs and the church joined St Finans as an alternative place of worship. The next twenty years saw a downturn in the fortunes of Lumphanan – rural depopulation began to “kick-in”; Dr Beeching closed the railway and the county council closed the secondary school. A dinky little primary school was built in the village for a maximum of 50 pupils and a local government estimate said that by 1990 the school role would drop to below 20, the school would close and primary school children would be bussed to Torphins where the old secondary school would easily accommodate primary pupils from both villages. Then oil was discovered under the North Sea. Oil workers and their families started to move into the village and anywhere they could get planning permission for building or conversion. To date since 1966 the village has doubled in size as has the school role. Two extensions to the primary school are nearing completion as is a brand new sewage works. The latter will almost certainly mean more housing, more families adding more dynamism to an already dynamic community. Lumphanan has its own playgroup, primary school, and youth organisations, its own football and tennis club with all weather facility and flood lighting, its own drama group, golf course, golf club, branch of the British Legion WRI and Community Council. Sadly Lumphanan no longer has its own church, St Finans having been sold, plans are afoot to sell Stothert Memorial Church(6) as well. Lumphanan elders of Mid-Deeside Church would do well to heed the words of the Rev Frances Donald, who must be turning in his grave, when he quoted Bishop Elphinstone, founder of Aberdeen University “Make us, we beseech thee, Almighty God on the intercession of the blessed, Finan, Thy Confessor and Bishop, to faithfully obey Thy commands, that while Thou does gently chide transgressions of the flesh, Thou wilt graciously dispense a soothing ointment for the soul”.






  1. Finan, a disciple of St Mungo came to the east of Scotland from the west overland as did St Machar and other early Christian teachers. He preached and baptised on the knoll where St Finan’s Church and churchyard perpetuate the memory of this seventh century apostle.

  2. Macbeth – much maligned King of Scotland – the last truly celtic monarch who ruled for 17 years. A devout Christian, Macbeth made a pilgrimage to Rome in 1045. He fell heir to the throne when the previous king, Duncan, was killed in battle. Duncan’s son Malcolm was taken to England, brought up in the court of Edward the Confessor and gained the throne of Scotland when his troops killed Macbeth in battle in Lumphanan – December 1056.

  3. The ‘Peel’ pf Lumphanan a circular, man-made earth mound, forty two metres in diameter and four metres in height was originally the site of a wooden fort and eventually a stone mansion-house called Ha’ton House. It was there that on 21st July 1296, Edward I, king of England, visited the fort along with many knights and squires to receive the submission and fealty of Sir John de Malvill. Silver coins of Edward I were excavated from the site by archaeologists from Glasgow University in 1980.

  4. St Finan’s Church still stands on the site where St Finan established his early Christian settlement. Worship continued in the 1762 building until 1985. Having sold the manse and out-buildings ten years earlier, the kirk session resolved to pass ownership of the church to the owner of the manse and concentrate worship at Stothert Memorial Church in the village.

  5. The break from the established church by the “Free Kirk” was an era known as the “Disruption”. This era affected practically every community in Scotland, dividing every congregation into “Free-Kirk and Aul’ Kirk”. In 1865 Rev Thomas Stothert became minister of the “Free Kirk” in Lumphanan, acquired a site on Glenmillan Estate, then planned a new church building and manse – the former being completed in 1870. On his death Rev T Stothert left a legacy of £675 for the upkeep of the fabric of the church. The new “Free Kirk” building was named “Stothert Memorial Church” in his honour.

  6. The sale of St Finan’s manse back in the 1970’s. which led to the sale of St Finan’s Church, is now regarded by many as a big mistake. In the words of a local farmer “they selt the wrong kirk”. The site of St Finan’s is of national and international significance. To sell Stothert Memorial Church which acquired the remit of St Finan’s would appear to many to be an act of monumental folly.