MHG1350 - St. Magnus Chapel


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Type and Period (1)

  • HOSPITAL (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

ND15SE 1 1588 5487 and 1587 5486

(ND 1587 5486) Site of St Magnus's Hospital (NR)
(ND 1587 5488) St Magnus's Chapel (NR) (In Ruins)
OS 6" map, Caithness, 2nd ed., (1907)

'Caithness Monumental Inscriptions', pre 1855
Monumental inscription survey completed by A.S.Cowper & I.Ross.
The survey may not include inscription information after 1855 and each inscription transcribed does not give the full details that appear on the stones, abbreviations used. Some ommissions and inacuracies. Published 1992.
J Aitken : 20/12/02
Little is known of hospital of St Magnus beyond that it was mentioned in 1476 and was still in existence in 1633. The dedication is to Norse St Magnus, who was executed in 1116.
The chapel of hospital was also church of Spittal parish, which was combined with Halkirk and Skinnet parishes in 16th century.
The site of S wall of the hospital was pointed out to OS surveyor in 1872, by which time it had been demolished for many years. It had been 102ft long.
By 1910 chapel was in ruinous condition. E gable stood 12ft high, with side walls averaging 6 to 8ft. It measured about 65 by 19ft within walls 3ft 4ins thick S wall. No decorative features are visible and interior is overgrown with nettles.
The adjoining graveyard, long used by the Clan Gunn and now neglected, was still in occasional use in 1872.
The area of both the graveyard and the church is covered with uninscribed gravestones and is enclosed by an old sunken wall.
RCAHMS 1911; 1946; D E Easson 1957; Name Book 1872; H Scott et al 1915-61
St Magnus's Chapel is as described by RCAHMS (1911). N and S walls survive to a height of 1.5m, E wall to gable height, and the W wall 1m high. The graveyard, contained within a grassy bank, has numerous gravestones, the most recent dated 1911
The site of St Magnus's Hospital appears as a rectangular sunken area measuring 30.5m E-W by 6m transversely, with what appears to be a division near its W end. Between hospital and chapel lie footings of several buildings with internal divisions, which appear to be contemporary, and associated with the hospital. S wall of these secondary buildings is also N wall of hospital, and survives to height of 0.4m.
Visited by OS (R B) 12 November 1965

St Magnus's Hospital & Chapel (NR) (remains of) (NAT)
OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

St Magnus's Chapel, within a disused graveyard, is as describebd by previous authorities. Hospital appears to have been incorrectly located to 'sunken rectangular area' by previous OS field surveyor this area, open at W end, is somewhat damp, and may be result of later disturbance. The stretch of walling, 6m long, exposed along N side of sunken area is not N wall of hospital as stated, but part of S wall of a range of buildings, presumably hospital, which occurs between sunken area and chapel, and which is reduced to amorphous, turf-covered footings.
Revised at 1:2500. Visited by OS (N K B) 17 March 1982

Chapel and hospital, St Magnus', Spittal;
A: Chapel. Dimensions: 21 x 7m. Rectangular structure filled with rubble. Orientation E-W. An unenclosed graveyard lies to the S containing unmarked stones and three stones with inscriptions.
B: Hospital. Dimensions: 31 x 4m. A sunken rectangular area to the S of A. Orientation E-W.
R J Mercer, NMRS MS/828/19, 1995

Sources/Archives (9)



Grid reference Centred ND 1587 5486 (123m by 94m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND15SE
Civil Parish HALKIRK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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