As a town, Banff’s origins are not fully understood yet, however a church dedicated to St Bey or St Columba is believed to have existed from the beginning of the 9th century on the site of St Mary’s Auld Kirkyard.
The earliest recorded mention of a parish church in Banff date from the time of Matthew, Bishop of Aberdeen (1178 -1199) who issued a charter in favour of the monks of Arbroath Monastery to minister to the needs of Banff, Inverboyndie, and Gamrie, and to be dedicated to St Mary. Pope Innocent III is recorded as confirming the Matthew’s grant in 1200.
The remains of the church still standing, dated from 1471, are known as the Banff Aisle and contains the tomb of Sir James Ogilvie, a former Provost of Banff, and not to be confused with the Provost Douglas whose sarcophagus was removed by the 2nd Earl Fife. In 1797 the main hall of the church was demolished and a new church built on High Street.