Places of Interest, St Mary's Chapel

By James Irvine Robertson

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The area up the hill behind Grantully Castle was once amongst the most heavily populated localities of the strath, the scattered houses remaining once marking the locations of thriving communities with their own shops and tradesmen. Five centuries ago there existed a manor house called Pitcairn and nearby was built the little Church of St Mary of Grantully. In 1553 the laird granted lands to maintain the priest and for many years this was the local church and the burial place of the district. During sermons the congregation would scuff the skeletal remains of their departed landlords from the earth floor. It is remarkable for its ceiling painted in 1636 which intermixes apostles and saints with the arms of the laird's family. The artist, in this at least like his predecessor Michelangelo, painted it lying on his back. So intent was he on his work that he would not speak to spectators. A score of generations from the neighbourhood are buried beneath the floor of the chapel and in the little graveyard. The Church of Scotland holds a service here on the last Sunday in July.