List of names as written Various modes of spelling Authorities for spelling Situation Description remarks
ABBEY OF ST MARY OF DEER (Remains of) Abbey of St. Mary of Deer. (Remains of) "Pratts Buchan" 021 [Continued from page 74]
to distinguish them even when accompanied by traits of a very opposite description, Comyn, Soon after his marriage, made preparations for the erection of an abbey on his newly acquired estates.The place selected for the building was on the north bank of the Ugie, about three-quarters of a mile west from the parish church, in the valley between the two hills, Sapling Brae and Aiky Brae. It is supposed to have been, at the time, a sort of marsh, but sheltered from the north by the Sapling Brae, which rises abruptly from the plain at less than a hundred yards behind the site of the Abbey.
According to Spottiswood and others, the foundations were laid on the first day of March 1218, although a record or tradition, preserved in the abbey until the middle of the sixteenth century, makes the date of the building the 29th day of January 1219. This discrepancy can only be reconciled on one of two hypotheses; either that the foundations of the church were laid on the one of (over)
[Continued on page 76]

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[Page] 75
Aberdeenshire -- Parish of Old Deer

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The Abbey of Deir was a religious house, belonging to the Cistercian order, situated on the small river Ugie, in Aberdeenshire. Its wealth was great, for in 1565 its rental amounted to £572 8s 6d [£572.08.06], a very large sum three hundred years ago. The temporalities of this religious house, which, like other similar baits to cupidity, sharpened the zeal of the Scottish nobles in the cause of the reformation, fell to the share of a son of the fourth Earl Marischal, Robert Keith. The estates of the Abbey of Deir were erected into a temporal lordship in his favour, with the title of Lord Altrie, in 1587, with remainder, after his death, to his nephew. George, fifth Earl Marischal. Lord Altrie died in 1593, when the temporalities of the Cistercian Abbey came into the possession of the head of his house. It was not, however, without a solemn warning that the Earl yielded to the temptation of a large addition to his annual revenue. A faithful monitor was by his side, who was warned in a dream of the ruin which impended over him; but he disregarded the admonition, and sealed the fate of his house. The Earl's first wife, Margaret, daughter of Alexander, fifth Lord Home, was a woman of a noble spirit and a tender conscience, and used all her influence to prevent her Lord from introducing such a consuming moth into his house as was the sacrilegious meddling with the wealth of the Abbey of Deir. She had a remarkable dream, which she did not fail to comunicate to her husband, and which the fate of the subsequent generations of their race has proved to be prophetic. She lay asleep one night in the Castle of Dunottar, the chief seat of the family - a mansion perched on a tremendous rock overhanging the German Ocean, and still considered, as well from the extent of its ruins as its picturesque position, one of the most remarkable objects in the North of Scotland. In her sleep she saw a long procession of ecclesiastics, clad in the habit of the Cistercian order, issuing from the Abbey of Deir, and advancing to the strong and steep rock on which Dunottar Castle is situated. She saw them set themselves round the foot of the rock, and taking penknives out of their pockets, begin to pick and cut the hard rock, as if with the intention of demolishing it. The Countess, in her sleep, wondered at the folly of these poor monks, who were attempting so great work with such inadequate instruments, and she went to call her husband, in order to join with her in deriding them, and in calling on them to cease their fruitless labour. When, full of mirth, she brought him along with her to see the poor monks at their foolish work, behold, the entire rock, with the strong, the stately castle, had already been undermined by the work of the penknives, and had toppled over into the ocean; so that there remained nothing but the wreck of their rich furniture and tapestries floating on the waves of a raging and tempestuous sea. Dunottar had sunk, and the very place on which it stood had perished for ever.
The Earl mocked the popular superstition and his wife's foreboding vision. He inscribed on a tower which he built at the Abbey of Deir, this defiant motto -
"They have said; what say they, let them say."
He seems to have regarded his munificent foundation of Marischal College in Aberdeen, with its principal and four professors of philosophy, whom he richly endowed, as a sort of salve to his conscience for the church lands which he had acquired. He founded this College immediately after he had become possessed of the Lordship of Altrie, with the Cistercian temporalities, and he repeated the same legend that he had inscribed on the Abbey tower, on the walls of his new college. The riches and grandeur of the house of Keith-Marischal probably appeared to the Earl to be as firmly established as the Castle of Dunottar on its lofty rock beetling above the North sea. What would he have thought if he could have foreseen that in little more than ninety years from the time of his death, his descendants would be deprived of their lands and titles, and were to be wandering exiles in a foreign country; and that in somewhat more than half a century later, the last male descendant of the Earls Marischal was to close his long lingering existence in the service of a German Prince, leaving behind him no direct heir male of his illustrious family to claim even the empty honour of representing the house of Marischal; while the ancient and strong fortress of Dunottar should stand roofless and grass-grown, and, except as a melancholy landmark to the ships sailing beneath its walls, might as well be crumbled beneath the waves that beat against the cliff on which it is reared. - Sir Bernard Burke's Vicissitudes of Families.

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