800 Years and More
Without a doubt, it is the Church that created our original true community. But the one sure thing we can claim is that the formal unifier of this valley will be the Kirk. People have been gathering to worship on the site of the present church for over 800 years!
A continuous unbroken line of community gathering making the Kirk the true original heart of Fintry.
Crime and Punishment
Early Fintry Kirk is dedicated to St Modan who was preaching in west central Scotland in the 6th century and who influenced places around us. But even beyond worship, the Kirk would set the standards for behaviour and life in the community of Fintry. It was effectively the early police and court. The minister, backed by the session, would ensure that moral and social values were part of life.
If you committed a “crime”, the whole village would know when you were shamed in public on Sunday! Everyone went to the Kirk! You might even be publically punished by being chained in “jouggs” outside the kirk – the local equivalent of stocks.
The church is the big proof that early Fintry, or Clachan (hamlet) of Fintry is all built round the east end of the valley.
The Old Bell
There is written evidence that some form of church building on the present site goes back to at least 1207. We can safely assume folk were gathering to worship here in Fintry way before that. We certainly know that a Church is built here in 1633. But this is surely a replacement building to improve on what was there before. We know there is a record of ministers as far back as 1560. One is specifically named is George Auld, minister from 1586. Rev. George Auld’s initials are on the very bell we hear every Sunday. So our bell has been ringing in Fintry for well over 400 years!
The Kirk Session records are full of details and events of real people and life and death in Fintry over hundreds of years. The oldest found copies are safely stored in Stirling Archives for anyone to see. The wonderful copperplate writing, old spellings and early Scots language all mean they are hard to decipher.
The church must have been packed every week as back then, everyone went to church. That road from the present Fintry to the Kirk would be absolutely filled every Sunday morning with hundreds of locals, putting on their “Sunday best” clothes to come together to worship. Just picture the social event that Sundays provided: The whole village on their one day off a week (unless you were a farmer on seven days a week, with just a wee break for Kirk.) The blethering and story-sharing on that journey must have been a huge Sunday treat.
The Church did so much for the community back then. The poor and elderly would be cared for in an early social security system of parish poor funds. Perhaps Peter Spiers was one of the quiet benefactors who paid for the rebuild of the present church in 1823. He was certainly a member of the Kirk Session until he died six years later in 1829.
Housewives in Trouble
Lovely old customs give us a picture of life at the Kirk in the 1700s. The old graveyard used to be a place where the wives hung out their sheets to dry on the gravestones. The beadle was ordered to pull the sheets off and throw them in the midden or dung heap to discourage them! There must have been some amusing, angry verbal exchanges in the kirkyard!