Named after a disciple of St Columba (521 - 597), St Machar's Cathedral in the City of Aberdeen was said to have been founded by that saint on a spot where a river, as it approached the sea, described the curve of a bishop's crozier. Documentary evidence for the existence of the Cathedral in Old Aberdeen extends as far back as the mid- 12th Century, but extensive restoration was undertaken in the late 14th century. William Elphinstone (1431 - 1514), Bishop of Aberdeen from 1484 to 1514, eventually completed the central tower which later collapsed in 1688. the ceiling of panelled oak bears 48 heraldic shields created in 1520 by Bishop Gavin Dunbar (c.1455 - 1532), while the font is of more recent origin, having been sculpted by Hew Lorimer in 1953. Stained glass includes work by Douglas Strachan (1875 - 1950). The cathedral's organ by Henry Willis, with 40 speaking stops controlling 2170 pipes, was installed in 1891.
Notables buried here include the poet and historian John Barbour (c.1316-95), Bishop Gavin Dunbar, philosopher William Ogilvie of Pittensear (1736 - 1819), composer of the hymn tune Crimond Jessie Seymour Irvine (1836-83), missionary Robert Laws (1851 - 1934), author J.J. Bell (1871 - 1934) and artist Robert Brough (1872 - 1905).