MHG39656 - Cemetery, St. Fergus Aisle


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Type and Period (1)

  • CEMETERY (Undated)

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Full Description

See also:
ND35SE0190 St. Fergus Church
ND35SE0283 Cross slab, font, graveslabs
ND35SE0284 Dunbar Memorial

'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

The locations of artifacts from site are as described by previous field investigator. The Sinclair Aisle is a roofless derelict structure 11.6m N-S by 6.8m. The wall, excepting later crenellations and alterations to windows, seems a homogenous feature and stands up to 2.2m high, topped by crenellations. Inside at N end the wall is plastered and a concrete plinth 3m wide and 0.4m high is constructed. Immediately to E is the Dunbar Tomb, an imposing structure 6.8m N-S by 6.4m and 3m high. Roofless, it is stone-built and inside, a modern memorial, now partly removed, has been erected on walls.
The Sinclair Aisle and the Dunbar Tomb are all that remain of the original parish chruch.
Revised at 1:2500. Visited by OS (J B) 18 August 1982

Font ND 3618 5050, Pultneytown. Dimensions: 5.70 x 2.95cm high. Located in the Manse garden (ND35SE 58) in 1840, apparently from St Fergus' Chapel (WIC 172).
Decorated with a shield. WIC 175.
C E Batey, Caithness Coastal Survey, 1981

(ND 3618 5113) St Fergus' Church (NR) (site of)
(ND 3618 5109) St Fergus's Well (NR) (site of)
OS 6" map, (1968)

The cross-slab, in Thurso Museum, is of sandstone and measures 0.8 by 0.6m by 0.07m thick. The monumental effigy and font are in Wick Museum.
The Sinclair Aisle (ND 3619 5114), bearing inscription 'repaired and ornamented in 1835', may contain some original window and door detail from an earlier building, but otherwise both it and the Dunbar Tomb (ND 3620 5113) appear modern.
Visited by OS (W D J) 20 April 1962.

The remains of former parish church and site of its holy well, both dedicated to St Fergus (fl 721 AD). An early cross-marked stone, dug up near church is in Thurso Museum (Craven 1908).
The church is on record between 1223 and 1245 (OPS 1855), and in 1726 it was stated that 'there is at the E end of it on the N side under a little pend, a hewn stone with a man at full length on it. . . The steeple on W end of it seems to be a very ancient work. . . On N side of the church stands the Sinclairs' Isle the ancient buryal place of the Earles of Caithnesse, where many of them be interred in a vault. To the E of that on the same side of the church stands the Dunbars' Isle, the burying place of the family of Hemprigs and in it a handsome monument in hewn stone' (Macfarlane 1906-8). In 1794 the church is described at being 'very old, long, narrow and ill-constructed, perhaps the worse in Caithness' (OSA 1794).
At end of 18th century a new church was built but was found to be unsafe and was replaced by present church (at ND 3615 5116) in 1830. By 1841, Sinclair Aisle and Dunbar Tomb were all that remained of old church.
The sculptured figure which lay in church is that of a recumbent ecclesiastic and dates from L15th or E16th century. It was locally believed to represent St Fergus, and was housed in town jail, then served at an upright statue before being placed by 1910 in Sinclair Aisle which is described as 'an uninteresting fragment of old church of St Fergus, with unseemly modern crenellations along the wall-heads. . . said to have been built by George, 4th Earl of Caithness, who died 1583' (RCAHMS 1911).
The holy well was a well of spring water immediately under the graveyard (ONB 1872). [Previously recorded as ND35SE 2]
In 1840 parish minister found a font, being used as a trough and sharpening stone, in glebe farmyard (probably ND36035129 since the manse stood in the glebe which was about 9 acres in extent {NSA 1845}). It passed into possession of the Free Church minister, in garden of whose manse (ND36045145) (OS 6" map, Caithness, 1st ed., 1873) it was preserved in 1910.
It is octagonal, each face bearing a pointed shield and each angle a vertical moulding. The edges are broken (RCAHMS 1911).
W Macfarlane 1906-8; OSA 1794; NSA 1845; Orig Paroch Scot 1855; Name Book 1872; F E Eeles 1910; RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910; W J Watson 1926;
J B Craven 1908.

Sources/Archives (10)



Grid reference Centred ND 3619 5112 (20m by 20m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND35SE
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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