MHG3337 - St. Mary's Church, Wardlaw


The remains of the parish church for Wardlaw, which was amalgamated with Kirkhill in the early 17th century. This church succeeded an early 13th century structure.

Type and Period (1)

  • CHURCH (Norse to 19th Century - 1220 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

(NH 5495 4570) St Mary's Church (NR) (In Ruins)
OS 6"map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1906)

The remains of church of former parish of Wardlaw which was incorporated in Kirkhill 1618. This church, dedicated to St Mary, was successor to NH54SW1 which is said to have been removed 1220.
The remains consist of gable against the west gable of mortuary chapel which was built in 1722. Local tradition says that the tombstones from earlier site were removed to this burial ground, where Jolly notes numerous cup-marked stones and refers to 'a fragment of a very beautfiul cross'. <1> <2> <3>
T Wallace 1911 and 1886; W Jolly 1882

What appears to be the foundations of St Mary's Church are attached to the W side of the Lovat Mausoleum, and the enclosure is now used for burials of the Frasers of Reelig. It measures 10.3m E-W by 6.6m N-S within walls 0.5m thick. The W wall is partly destroyed, and the N and S walls averaging 1.0m high are topped by a later coping, but the harled E gable is virtually intact and incorporated in the W wall of the mausoleum. According to a notice board the church was built in 1618 when the parishes were united, and there is no ground evidence to support an earlier date. The same notice, however, states that the mausoleum was built in 1634, but the date 1722 is inscribed on the belfry. The earliest legible grave markers are of the early 17th C. No trace of cup marked stones, nor of the cross fragment. The grave yard is still in use.
Visited by OS (A A) 22 June 1975

An archaeological examination was carried out by Wordsworth Archaeological Services in 1997 in connection with restoration work at this important 17th/18th-century building. As the reconstruction work necessary to preserving the mausoleum required trenches to be dug for drainage, access and services, there was naturally some concern that deposits of archaeological interest might be disturbed. Of particular interest was any information concerning the dimensions and architectural detail relating to the earlier medieval church. Two trenches were excavated, though additional work was recommended. A fine quatrefoil window exposed in the W gable of the mausoleum is thought to be the remains of the window dedicated by Euphemia Fraser in 1341. Other fragments of dressed masonry thought to derive from the medieval church were also found. However, apart from the W gable, no walling incontrovertibly related to the earlier church was revealed. Further work is planned. <4> Awaiting final report on subsequent work.

A programme of geophysical survey was conducted in 1997 by GUARD in Wardlaw Old Churchyard, Kirkhill, in an attempt to detect any buried structures associated with the site of the medieval chapel or any earlier archaeological activity. The results proved largely uninformative due to geological conditions and severe ground disturbance. <5>

Photographs of the building were taken by M Briscoe. <6>

See also:
NH54NW0179 Graveyard (see MHG31356)
J Aitken : 09/12/02

Sources/Archives (6)



Grid reference Centred NH 5495 4570 (30m by 15m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH54NW
Civil Parish KIRKHILL
Geographical Area INVERNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Investigations/Events (2)

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