MHG163 - Nunnery, Mains of Murkle


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • NUNNERY (Medieval - 1058 AD to 1559 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Site of (NAT) Nunnery (NR)
OS 6" map, Caithness, 1st ed., (1873)

A nunnery of very ancient date and extensive buildings appears to have stood here. Auld states: "A nunnery or monastery existed at a very early period at Murkle. Torfeus (1866) mentions that a queen of Norway died in it and that an Earl of Caithness was buried there in 960."
NSA 1845; A Auld 1868 Name Book 1873; T Torfaeus 1866.

The supposed nunnery at Murkle, at a place locally known as Glosters, cannot be authenticated from Scottish records.
D E Easson 1957.

(ND 1668 6888) Foundations of a building discovered by Mr Coghill when ploughing.
OS 6" map, annotated, nd.

At ND 1658 6961, a level rectangular area measuring approximately 70 x 50 metres has been excavated out of the gentle south-facing slope immediately S of West Murkle No.2 farm-house. Some rectangular sub-divisions are visible within area. A badly weathered triangular carved stone, said to have come from this site is built into the gable wall of farm steading. To E and SE of this site further foundations and a drystone wall show through the grass-covered sand. This may be the site of the alleged monastery at Murkle, located variously at Murkle and Redlands (ND 165 688) (Beaton 1909; Calder 1887).
D Beaton 1909; J T Calder 1887; Information contained in letter from G Watson, 14 St Andrews Dr, Thurso to OS.

There is no evidence at any of the locations given by previous authorities to indicate site of this alleged nunnery. The 'level rectangular area' noted by Watson is generally as described and planned. While it cannot be disproved as a nunnery, it seems more likely to have been the site of a house with associated outbuildings and enclosures. According to Watson, there is historical evidence for a large house having existed at Murkle, but the precise location is not known.
Visited by OS (N K B) 16 March 1982.

Sources/Archives (7)



Grid reference Centred ND 1662 6904 (80m by 80m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND16NE
Civil Parish OLRIG
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.