MHG39858 - Possible Site of Church, Stemster House


Possible site of church although the evidence suggests that it is highly unlikely that this is the location of such a building.

Type and Period (1)

  • CHURCH (Undated)

Protected Status

Full Description

The foundations of a rectangular building were discovered about 1910 immediately in front of dovecot at Stemster. Lying WNW-ESE, it measures some 72ft by 28ft and has had an entrance through WNW wall at its W end and two entrances within 4ft of each other through ENE wall. There is said to be a chamber, 20ft by 24ft, against NW wall. No feature confirms the allegation that this was a church. Visited by RCAHMS IN 1910. <1>

At ND 1830 6108, 13m S of dovecot (ND16SE 9), oriented WNW-ESE, there is a length of walling 12m long by 0.9m maximum height, probably part of foundations described by RCAHMS. It is impssible to say whether or not this is remains of a church, although a relatively modern monument, bearing words, "To the Unknown Kirk" has been erected between walling and dovecot. No further info could be obtained locally.
Walling and monument surveyed at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (R D) 11 November 1965.

No sign of alleged foundations of rectangular building. The walling noted in previous field report is almost certainly contemporary with Stemster House. The monument is as described, but at Stemster House it is pointed out that there never was a church or chapel here, and there is no recorded info in Thurso Library.
Visited by OS (J M) 29 October 1981.

During a site visit by Historic Scotland in 2014 a gravestone with skull and crossbones motifs, apparently not in situ in the garden of Stemster House to the south, was shown to the Field Officer. <2>

ND16SE0027 Stemster House
ND26SE0009 Stemster House, dovecot
ND16SE0038 Stemster house, building and enclosure

George Watson, Caithness Chapel Sites (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG3470.

<1> RCAHMS, 1911, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Third report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Caithness, 5-6, No. 16 (Text/Report). SHG2664.

<2> Parker, C., 2014, Stemster House site visit (email) (Text/Correspondence). SHG26295.

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred ND 1830 6108 (80m by 80m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet ND16SE
Civil Parish BOWER
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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