At the old Don Bridge, Inverurie, take the unclassified road sign-posted “Burnhervie” westwards past the Hospital. In two miles, this meets another road at Polinar Dam. Two hundred yards further along, the trees on the left give way to farmland and the site of the Kirk can be seen in the circular wooded area surrounded by a retaining wall down by the river Don.
Open all year, though care should be taken in walking past animals, or beside growing crops. Park in the opening to the rough ground by an old wooden shelter, and walk down the sides of the field to the entrance gate. The low walls of the Kirk are found in the centre of the enclosure, and contain the graves of the Gordon lairds of Badifurrow (renamed “Manar”).
Culdee monks – the servants of God – and successors to St Columba, first brought Christianity to the Garioch from their base at Monymusk, and around 800AD built their first church, or cell, where the Polinar Burn spills into the river Don. In the early years, this would have been no great construction – more a stone and turf shelter protecting the altar and sacraments. Eventually a small chapel was built, called the Church of Rocharl, taking its name from the hill on the opposite bank. Two dependent chapels were established at Inverurie’s Bass, and at Montkegy, Keithhall.
When the Celtic/Columban church gave way to Rome, the church was renamed for St Apollinaris by Papal charter of 1195 – Apollinaris being the Bishop of Ravenna (martyred in 81AD), the only church in Britain thus dedicated. By the fourteenth century, the satellite church at the Bass had become the main centre of worship in Inverurie, and the chapel at Rocharl fell into disuse.
Occasional services are still held there, the last being in 1992. Further information can be found in “150 Years of St Andrew’s Parish Church” Booklet – available from St Andrew’s Church office.