MHG16058 - Chapter House - Cathedral Square, Fortrose


The former chapter house of Fortrose Cathedral.

Type and Period (2)

  • CHAPTER HOUSE (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Alternate Type) COURT HOUSE (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

The former chapter house of Fortrose Cathedral.

Cathedral (NR) OS 6"map, (1959)
The cathedral of Bishops of Ross, dedicated to SS Peter and Curitan, was transferred from Rosemarkie (NH75NW 7) to Fortrose c1235. Of this period only undercroft of Chapter-house remains; upper storey of which was rebuilt in C19th as a Court-house. All other remains date apparently from L14th and E15th centuries and consist of vaulted S aisle of nave, and bell-tower. The ground plan was recovered about 1870 by excavation by H.M. Commissioners of Woods & Forests. Cathedral fell into disrepair about time of Reformation, but was partially repaired 1615 and by 1649 was not very ruinous. Traditions says that Cromwell subsequently removed most of masonry.
D MacGibbon and T Ross 1896-7; A R Scott 1873.

The remains of cathedral are as described above. Area of nave is defined by shale and only a few base stones of buttresses remain. The graveyard to S. is still used occasionally, extant portion of the Cathedral has recently been re-roofed.
Visited by OS (N K B) 9 March 1966.

The chapter house building was listed at Category A in 1971.

The chapter house was included within the Fortrose Cathedral Scheduled Monument in 1995.

A series of excavations and a watching brief were carried out by Kirkdale Archaeology at Fortrose Cathedral in February and March 1996. The aim of project was to establish whether the landscaped layout presently in place accurately reflects the location of buried elements of the cathedral structure. The extent of surviving remains was patchy, with noticeably superior masonry revealed towards the W end of the site, perhaps indicating an assumed two-phased construction programme between the nave and choir. Sponsor: Historic Scotland G Ewart and D Stewart 1996


Rough sketch showing the position of Cathedral, Manse and crofts of the Dean and Chapter of Ross.
1859 GD128/30/7/1

The condition of the Cathedral and the Seaforth Tomb.
Roderick MacFarquhar comments on this in a letter which accompanies an estimate for enclosing the churchyard with a wall and providing a gate and pillars.
1825 GD45/12/7

Estimate for enclosing the churchyard surrounding the Cathedral with a wall and the addition of a gate and pillars. Letter from Roderick MacFarquhar, Fortrose, comments on condition of the Cathedral can the Seaforth Tomb.
1825 GD45/12/7


Fortrose is a small town in Black Isle, Ross-shire, on N side of the inner part of Moray Firth, nearly opposite Fort George. It is situated ten and a half miles NE of Inverness. It was Cathedral Town of the Bishopric of Ross. A very small part of ancient Cathedral yet remains entire. National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh contains, among the "Uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton", and numbered 134 in Vol 1, an external view of 1815 and an internal view of the Chapter House dated 1819.

NLS Advocates' MS 30.5.23, 133-39. Architectural drawings, mainly of 1815 (inc. plans by John MacQueen), and Scott (1873).

Scottish Magazine August 1933

Building has had various purposes in past. Apparently top floor used as meeting place for Masonic Lodge (new building built c20yrs ago). Apparently ground floor also used as a morgue when practice session for D Day landings caused major casualties - HAW 11/2003

Archaeological monitoring was undertaken by Kirkdale Archaeology during two phases of work in December 2005 and March 2006. The first phase was carried out to locate existing electrical services, while the second involved the digging of a trench for the installation of a new power supply for the Chapter House. No finds or features of archaeological significance were encountered during these works. Archive to be deposited in NMRS. Sponsor: Historic Scotland.
P Fox and C Shaw 2006

The chapter house was reassessed by Historic Environment Scotland in 2017-18 as part of a national dual designations project. It was proposed that the chapter house be delisted but that it would remain part of the overall Fortrose Cathedral Scheduled Monument. <1>

The chapter house was delisted by Historic Environment Scotland with effect from 31/01/2018. <2>

Photographs submitted by K. Crawford 2023. <3>

See also: NH75NW0001 Cathedral
Jhooper, 9/7/2002

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred NH 7273 5653 (20m by 8m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH75NW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (2)

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