The preceptory of Maryculter

Translation : Andrew Zolnai
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Great Britain, Scotland, Aberdeenshire

Great Britain, Scotland, Aberdeenshire, around 15 km south-west of Aberdeen, village of Maryculter.

Little is known about the exact origin of the creation of a Templar preceptory in Maryculter. It is known that the first donation of land was made by the King of Scotland William I the Lion, probably towards the end of his reign, at the beginning of the 13th century. But it was not until a few more years, probably around 1230, when Walter Byset(1), Lord of Aboyne made a substantial donation of land to the Order, some historians speak of about 8000 acres(2), that there is talk of the establishment of a preceptory in Maryculter.

Most of the estate of Maryculter's house was along the right bank of the River Dee, in a loop of the river, north of the village. But a part of their land was on the other side of the river, attached to the village of Peterculter.

After building a bridge to connect the two parts of their estate, the Templars were taken to court by the monks of Kelso(3), who saw the construction of this bridge as an attack on their income from religious services at Peterculter. After long trials, a parish was finally created in Maryculter and in compensation the Knights Templar had to pay the monks of Kelso an annual royalty.

Notes :

(1)Walter Byset was a Scottish lord of Norman origin. He was born around the beginning of the 13th century. Through his marriage with Ada of Galloway in 1233, he entered the family of the powerful lords of the eponymous region in the south-west of Scotland. In the early 1230s, he began the construction of a motte-and-bailey castle in Aboyne, about 40 km west of Maryculter. In 1242, he had to flee Scotland and take refuge in Ireland because he was accused of the murder of one of his cousins, Patrick (Padraig) of Atholl. He was captured in 1248 by the son of the latter, Allan of Atholl and banished to the Isle of Arran where he died in 1251.

(2)The acre is an old surface measurement unit. One acre was worth about 2 jugers (working day with an ox), that is to say between 40 and 50 ares.

(3)Kelso Abbey was founded in the early 12th century by monks from Thiron Abbey in France. Construction of the original abbey began in 1128 and was completed in 1143. The abbey quickly grew to become one of the richest and most important in Scotland.


  1. "The Knights Templar in Britain"
    Evelyn Lord ; Routledge, 2013
  2. "Scottish History Society publications Volume 19 : Knights of St John of Jerusalem in Scotland" (Link to the Scottish History Society )
    Cowan, Mackay & Macquarrie ; Scottish History Society, 1983
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Translation : Andrew Zolnai
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