MHG11837 - Dornoch Cathedral


No summary available.

Type and Period (5)

  • CATHEDRAL (Built, Norse - 1224 AD to 1299 AD)
  • CATHEDRAL (restored, 19th Century - 1835 AD to 1837 AD)
  • CATHEDRAL (Fire damage, 16th Century - 1570 AD to 1570 AD)
  • CATHEDRAL (restored, 17th Century - 1616 AD to 1616 AD)
  • CATHEDRAL (restored, 20th Century - 1924 AD to 1924 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

(NH 7971 8969) Cath. (NAT) OS 6" map, (1959)

Dornoch Cathedral, dedicated to Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary but locally known as St. Gilbert's Church, after Gilbert, Bishop of Caithness, its founder, succeeded Halkirk as Church of See of Caithness. Cathedral, now used as parish church, was founded c1223, but its date of completion is not known. Burnt by MacKays in 1570 and lay in ruins until partially restored for use as parish church in early 17th century. Further re-building and renovation in 19th century left little of early work exposed & involved destruction of remains of the arcades of the nave, it being rebuilt without aisles. During this century an attempt has been made to uncover much of early work hidden by 19th century renovations. The sanctuary of the Cathedral as defined by Pope Pius II between 1458 and 1464 extended 'for three miles on every side around the said cathedral church and marked with the sign of the holy cross'. (For earlier ecclesiastical community here - see NH78NE 14).
Orig Paroch Scot 1855; W D Simpson 1924; C D Bentinck 1926.

ARCHITECT: William Burn 1835 Restoration for Countess of Sutherland

REFERENCE: Scottish Record Office
225/37 Burn's plans for Dornoch ch.
226/9 Dempster to Loch. Plans of seating of ch.
226/11 Dss. To Loch. Seating of ch.
228/16-17 Dss. Of Loch. 'We are agreeing with Leslie who with Cooper has fixed upon a plan and elevations for the cathedral in good taste for about ?3,500. It will be well to pay off Burns and have done with him entirely'. 30 July 1835.
228/24-5 Loch. 'Alterations to Dornoch plans by Cooper; 'the whole must as formerly be harled in the manner of this house, and as the cathedral always was, instead of being cased with stone after Burns plan, wh.wd.cost ?5000 or more as we have no proper stone for such a work'. 15 July 1835.
229/4-7,10-11 Alterations to Dornoch cath.
GD 268 George Dempster, Heritor, Sutherland

NATIONAL LIBRARY: Uncatalogued M.S.S. of General Hutton No 169 Vol 1- plan by James Shand, Tain 1815

Dornoch Cathedral as described, in use.
Visited by OS (AA) 31 March 1971.

The cathedral and its walled graveyard were listed at Category A in 1971.

The surrounding graveyard including the boundary walls were Scheduled by Historic Scotland in 2003. The Cathedral itself was excluded from the Scheduling.

Nicki MacRae submitted photographs of the cathdral via the Highland HER Flickr group. <1>

The listing and scheduling were reviewed by Historic Scotland in 2015 as part of the Dual Designations Project. The site was not visited but it was recommended that the graveyard and its boundary walls remain Scheduled but be excluded from the listing of the Cathedral. <2>

The listing was amended by Historic Environment Scotland on 15/09/2017. <3>

See also:
NH78NE0034 Dornoch Cathedral, burial ground

Sources/Archives (9)



Grid reference Centred NH 7971 8969 (44m by 35m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH78NE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish DORNOCH

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (3)

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