The Gordon burial

ground at









Notes on the Chapel and Burial Ground at Polnair, taken from report by the Historic Environment Scotland website

Archaeological Notes

NJ72SE 36 7517 2026

(NJ 7517 2026) St Apolinaris's Chapel (NR) (Ruins of) OS 6" map, (1938)

The first church of Inverurie, mentioned about 1190, was that of Rothael, otherwise called St Apollinaris' Chapel and now known as Polnar's Chapel. The foundations of the chapel lie on a knoll and measure internally about 32 feet 6 inches by 16 feet 6 inches. "These proportions suggest an early date, no doubt older that the thirteenth century." The site is now a private burial ground. W D Simpson 1949.

Within the remains of this chapel, the walls of which are 0.9m high, are four 17th century tombstones. Visited by OS (RD) 2 March 1964.

The remains of St Apolinaris's chapel lie in a walled burial-ground on the edge of a terrace overlooking haughland on the W bank of the River Don. A burn gully descends to the river on the E. The burial-ground, which is planted with yew, sycamore and elm, is rectangular on plan and the wall is of rubble and mortar with a stone coping. The walls of the chapel are largely reduced to spreads of rubble, but lengths of external facing are visible on all four sides. These indicate it measures 12.3m from ENE to WSW by 6.95m transversely overall and in places still stands up to 1m in height. The interior of the chapel has been cleared out and a low retaining wall constructed to form of a Victorian burial-enclosure. This wall, which is of neat rubble and pinning construction, with a mortared rubble coping, is on a slightly different alignment to the external facing and is evidently of 19th- century date. The entrance to the burial-enclosure lies towards the W end of the S wall and may represent the site of an original doorway of the chapel. The E end of the burial-enclosure is occupied by the large mural monument and tomb of James Gordon of Manar (d.1874). The covering slab of the tomb has been dislodged, partially exposing the earth-filled grave underneath. Four other small headstones are set against this wall, two standing to the N of the monument and two to the S, and each measures about 0.35m in width and 0.5m in height. Three of them bear a simple roll-moulding along the upper edge, and of them the two on the N bear the incised inscriptions EF.1662, and PF. 1666, and one on the S, AF.1662. The fourth stone bears the initials WF within two concentric rectangles. Two other tombstones towards the centre of the enclosure, dated 1838 and 1850, commemorate members of the family of Manar.

Visited by RCAHMS (PC, IF), 13 June 1996. Scheduled as 'St Apolinaris' Chapel and burial ground...' Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 7 February 2008.


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Notes on the Burial Ground of Polnair, taken from "The New Statistical Account of Scotland, Volume XII" (1845)

"On the lands of Manar the now ruinous chapel of St Apolonarius, the patron saint of the parish, stood. The farm is hence, by a corruption, called Polander. One of the two annual fairs, formerly held in the parish was called Polander Fair."




Approach to Gordon Burial Ground

Approach to Gordon Burial Ground at Polnair

Approach to Gordon Burial Ground

Gateway into the Burial Ground

Memorial to James Gordon of Manar

James Gordon of Manar (died 17th June 1874)

Memorial to James Gordon of Manar, and his wife Elizabeth Cruger (Lumsden) Gordon

Elizabeth Cruger (Lumsden) Gordon in 1873 - died many years later at Midmar Castle - her body brought to Polnair in the snow

Elizabeth Cruger (Lumsden) Gordon in old age at Midmar Castle

Memorial inscriptons to James Gordon's children, including Henry Gordon his successor

Henry Gordon of Manar (died 1st January 1928)

Alice and Anne Gordon at Midmar Castle (died 25th January 1942 and 15th April 1942) - most recent Gordons buried here

Other tombstones

Tombstone to William Gordon

Another picture of William Gordon's tombstone

Tombstone to Catherine, Elizabeth and James Gordon

Tombstone to Catherine Gordon (9yrs), Elizabeth Gordon (16yrs), and James Gordon (17yrs)

Parting picture of the Chapel and Burial Ground

Extract from sale details: the Burial Ground was not sold, but reserved in perpetuity for the family:

it does not form part of the succeeding owners' title deeds and continues to belong to the

Gordons of Manar

The Ordnance Survey Report of 1871, citing the chapel and graveyard as "on the lands of Manar"

Nearby Polinar Farm was also owned in 1871 by James Gordon of Manar, but separate and north of the ruins and burial ground



Family members known to be buried there:


1838 Catherine Gordon (age 10 months)

1848 Catherine Gordon (age 11)

1851 William (age 2 months)

1857 Elizabeth Gordon (age 16)

1860 James Gordon (age 17)

1874 James Gordon of Manar (age 62)

1911 Elizabeth Gordon (nee Lumsden) (age 94)

1942 Anne Gordon (age 96)

1942 Alice Gordon (age 83)

Other names engraved on the memorial slabs:

1858 Hugh Gordon (age 19, died at Lucknow)

1928 Henry Gordon of Manar (age 79, buried at Chiswick)

1938 Mary Fraser (nee Gordon) (age 85, buried in Elmwood, Winnipeg - she was married to Arthur Matthew Fraser, a barrister in Montreal, and is known to have published a volume of poetry, 'Restful Rhymes' in 1875).







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