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Aberdeen, cathedrals

Aberdeen, cathedrals. St Machar's cathedral, built on the site of a church founded by one of St Columba's disciples (c.580) and a subsequent Norman cathedral burnt by Edward III (1336), was battlemented against possible English attack from the sea and Highlanders from the mountains; its 15th-cent. ashlar facing was the first large-scale use of dressed granite in the area. It was alternately under presbyterian and episcopal rule 1560–1690, then wholly presbyterian. The glory of its surviving interior is the nave's oak ceiling bearing 48 heraldic shields (1520); the central tower, weakened in the Cromwellian period by removal of some of the buttresses to construct a barracks, fell after a storm (1688). The episcopal cathedral, erected 1816–17 as St Andrew's chapel, is regarded by American episcopalians as the mother church, since their first bishop ( Samuel Seabury) was consecrated in Aberdeen in 1784 after reluctance by the Anglican authorities to perform the rite.

A. S. Hargreaves

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