Church housing William Wallace remains in £100k fundraiser

A fundraising campaign has been started for St Machar's Cathedral in Aberdeen in a bid to restore it.

Church housing William Wallace remains in £100k fundraiser Matthew Newby via SWNS
Cathedral: Medieval church fundraising £100,000 for restoration.

A medieval church which is one of the final resting places of William Wallace is fundraising £100,000 in bid to restore the building after years of neglect.

St Machar’s Cathedral in Aberdeen was built between 1380 and 1520, although the site was established in 580, and it is the oldest building in active use in the Granite City.

The Gothic building with distinctive twin towers is one of the last resting places of William Wallace, whose left quarter was buried in its walls after his body was cut up following his execution in 1305.

The Presbyterian church also has a 500-year-old oak ceiling, decorated with 48 heraldic shields, now covered by a film of stearic acid, as well as stained glass windows from some of the most significant designers of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Now a £1.85m project is funding a complete re-slating of the church’s roof for the first time since 1867.

The ceiling is also undergoing a full clean and renovation, with the leaded windows also being restored.

So far £2340 has been raised towards a target of £100,000 to complete the work at the former cathedral, named after a saint believed to have accompanied St Columba on his journey to Iona in the Inner Hebrides, which is described as the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland.

Professor David Hewitt, who is leading the project, believes it is the ‘most significant’ work in 150 years.

He said: “People are finally realising that this is one of the major buildings in Scotland and not just in historical terms – it’s a really spectacular building to look at.

“We’re renovating the roof, which was last done in 1867, and it was done well but now, in a big wind, the cathedral’s slates come off.

“They certainly won’t after this.

“We’re also restoring and cleaning all of the stained glass windows, among them windows by Daniel Cottier and Douglas Strachan, two of the most significant figures to work in stained glass in the 19th and 20th centuries.

“The ceiling at St Machar’s was erected in 1520 and it’s a flat ceiling.

“There’s no other flat ceiling we know of erected in the British Isles which dates from this period. And it also has its 48 heraldic shields. It’s incredible.

“Here in Aberdeen, on the extremities of Christendom, is this church with its flat ceiling and heraldic shields arranged in three lines – one for James V and the nobles of Scotland, one for the kings and queens of Europe, and a church line headed by the Pope.

“St Machar’s has been a Protestant church since 1560 but you still have the heraldic arms of the Pope up there.”

Donations can be made to the fundraiser by visiting the St Machar Raise the Roof Justgiving page.