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(Issue 412, October 2013)
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At the end of August, the site of the old Chapel of Portmoak was opened.
The project properly started in 1976 when David Munro was organising a youth group in the levelling of the north runway at Portmoak airfield. At that time he found an ancient Celtic Cross which is now placed in the wall inside the present Portmoak Church. He also found the remains of an old kiln, which he re-assembled.
Moving forward to today, visitors were able to view what is considered to be the original site of the Chapel of Portmoak, dating back to the early Christian Culdees.
Research was carried out in old maps and eventually an Ordnance Map of 1856 identified the site and location of the chapel.
Work restarted when a local reading group read about St Andrew. It was discovered that during the Reformation the treasures, valuables and relics of St Andrews Cathedral, including the relics of St Andrew himself, were said to have been moved to Portmoak Parish for safekeeping until the danger had passed, when they were returned to St Andrews. This gives spiritual and historical significance to the Chapel, which was replaced in 1661 by the present Portmoak Church.
A small group was set up to develop matters. The group has worked to establish and mark where the site was. The site and its surrounds have been cleared, the edge marked with stones and the four corners marled with a small cairn. An interpretive panel has been erected in the remains of an old stone barn explaining the history of the site.
It was a great pleasure to invite a number of people, including the Scottish Gliding Club, who had been of tremendous assistance and encouragement, members of the local churches and others who had been involved and interested to an opening of the site.
David Munro described the history and showed the visitors the various elements, Alistair Smith described the work that has been carried out in the last seven years and then he invited the Rev Dr Angus Morrison, minister to Orwell and Portmoak churches, to lead a short service of prayers and dedication of the site and the panel.
Presentations were made to the Scottish Gliding Union thanking them for all their support and great assistance in helping prepare the site.
The afternoon was concluded with refreshments and everyone who attended the event found it a very appropriate occasion.
It is important to stress that the site of the Old Chapel is in the middle of Portmoak Airfield, which is a very active flying area for the Scottish Gliding Union. Access can only be arranged with the Portmoak Priory group, and not by the SGU. The group is very happy to arrange access and can be contacted through Alistair Smith, telephone 01592 840215.