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The Beginning of the Parish



Nathalan, who established the Parish Church which is now Meldrum Parish, was an Aberdeenshire saint of some interest, for behind the biography there appears to be the picture of one who, before his time, practised natural cultivation of the land, precursor of those today who employ hygrometry and natural aids to produce their crops. Appropriately, when other crops in his district failed and people faced starvation Nathalan’s were producing abundantly. But, in another season, when his crops showed signs of failure he lost faith and blamed God. Ashamed of himself, he bound his right arm to his side and vowed not to unlock the key until he had returned from a pilrimage. To make his task more difficult, apparently, he had meantime thrown the key into the Aberdeenshire River Dee. Visiting Rome and seeing on every side the monuments of the saints, he bewailed his sin, and adored the Creator whom he had offended. He then, so the story goes, met a boy who was selling a little fish which Nathalan purchased. In its belly he found the key, unrusted, which he had flung into the River Dee. As a result, so the mediaeval narrative continues he was made a bishop.  At his own expense Nathalan founded churches at Tullich, Bethelnie (Old Meldrum) and Coull, and on his death in 678 it is said that the body was carried from Bethelnie to Tullich where he had spent his boyhood.


The above is an edited extract taken from 
Saints of Scotland by Edwin Sprott Towill
Published by St Andrew Press Edinburgh, 1983
ISBN 0 7152 0678 8


An excellent historical account of Meldrum can be found in The New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845), Volume XII - Aberdeen Parish of Meldrum. Read it now by clicking here (opens in a new window).


Another account of Meldrum Parish is the book :-
"The story of a parish: being a short account of Meldrum and its ministers", written in 1897 by the incumbent Minister of the time, Rev Marshall B. Lang. Read it now by clicking here (opens in a new window, an11.8MB download).



Meldrum Parish Church


In 1684 the Parish centre moved to a new church in the village, now small town, of Oldmeldrum and the present church has served the community well for over 300 years. During the second world war the building was used as a storage area, the congregation meeting in another church in the village. In 1954 it was extensively reformed and refurbished and later became the only Presbyterian church in Oldmeldrum, the former Free Church on the main A947 Albert Road becoming (and continuing to be) the church hall. 


In 1984 a cairn was erected at the entrance of the church to commemorate 300 years since it was built, the stones being brought from the Auld Kirk at Bethelnie. Many have asked what the Latin inscription Ardens sed virens means. It means 'Burning but Flourishing', an allusion to the burning bush of Exodus 3:2. The same passage is the basis of the motto of the Church of Scotland of which we are a part, Nec tamen consumebatur - 'Yet it was not consumed', A stylised depiction of the burning bush is the symbol of the Church of Scotland (seen here).


In 2003 a projector screen was installed on the wall behind the pulpit and other digital screens added later to allow the use of multimedia in services.

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