Link to printer-friendly page

Record details

Type of record:Monument
Name:Balnakeil, Durness Church


Listed Buildings Record - photographs  © Please contact Highland Council for detailsListed Buildings Record  © Please contact Highland Council for details© Please contact Highland Council for details


Black and white photograph  © Please contact Highland Council for details (File size: 78 KB)Colour photograph  © Please contact Highland Council for details (File size: 457 KB)Sites and Monuments Record Card  © Highland Council (File size: 790 KB)Report  © Please contact Highland Council for details (File size: 47 KB)
Grid Reference:NC 3911 6866
Map Sheet:NC36NE
Civil Parish:DURNESS
Geographical Area:SUTHERLAND

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Early Medieval to 19th Century - 561 AD to 1900 AD)
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1894: Durness Old Church, Balnakeil; Listed Building (B) 486: Balnakeil, Durness Old Church And Burial Ground

Other References/Statuses

  • Historic Environment Record: MHG9482
  • NMRS NUMLINK Reference: 4768
  • Old SMR Reference Number: NC36NE0001

Full description

See also:
NC36NE0110 Graveyard
J Aitken : 12/12/02

Amended entry in the schedule of monuments, dated: 09/10/01. Includes graveyard. See assoc. dcos. File.
J Aitken : 07/11/01.

NC35NE 1 3911 6866.

(NC 3911 6866) Church (NR) (remains of) OS 6"map, (1962)

The remains of former parish church which was built in 1619 and had an aisle added to N in 1692. It was in use until about 1814 when the present church was built (at NC 4042 6693).
Although somewhat irregular in plan, it is generally typical of its period with a belfry on the E gable. The remains stand to the wall-head, the crow-stepped gables being intact. The earliest reference occurs between 1223 and 1245 when it was assigned to find light and incense for the cathedral church (NH78NE ), but it is said to have been a Celtic foundation of St Maelrubba (6, 7 & 8). An old font known as the "Clach na sagart ruadh" or "stone of the red priest" (cf Applecross - NG 74 NW 1 - for association of St Maelrubha and 'the Red Priest'), lay in front of the door of Balnakiel House (NC36NE 4) before 1867 but by 1874 it had been moved to within the church. The church is said to occupy "the site of a cell of Dornoch monastery" (? NH78NE ), but there is no mention of such by Easson.
D MacGibbon and T Ross 1897; RCAHMS 1911; Orig Paroch Scot 1855; J Horsburgh 1870; H Morrison 1883; A Mackay 1914; A B Scott 1918; D E Easson 1957; Visible on RAF air photographs CPE/Scot/UK 185: 1150-1: flown 1946.

What could be a former, circular, enclosing bank of the churchyard is visible on aerial photographs within the confines of the modern graveyard. D E Easson 1957.

The church is well preserved, the walls of rubble masonry being 0.8m thick and averagine 2.3m in height. Externally, the nave measures 13.8m by 6.0m and the aisle 7.7m by 6.0m.
Visited by OS (W D J) 5 April 1960.

This church is as described and planned by MacGibbon and Ross. The font stands within the church and is covered by the top half of a rotary quern. There is no ground trace of the suggested circular graveyard wall.
Visited by OS (A A) 22 July 1971.

The church is as described by the previous authorities. The font has been removed by persons unknown in recent years. A holy water stoup, now cracked in half, lies immediately inside the church entrance on the S side.
Visited by OS (J B) 22 April 1980.

Historic Scotland propose to re-schedule this site as the original scheduling map is rather unclear and does not include all the remains associated with this monument - the old churchyard.
See assoc. docs. File.
J Aitken : 30/01/01.

NW SUT Local Plan, May 1987: P23/2.36.
J Aitken : 11/06/01.

Related Monument/Building records

MHG31413Parent of: Balnakeil, Durness Parish Church, graveyard (Monument)

Related Investigations - none

Related documents/files/web pages

Conservation Areas
Listed Buildings
Scheduled Ancient Monuments
Designed Landscapes
Registered Battlefields
Marine Protected Areas