MHG8451 - Fearn Abbey


Church built on, and incorporating, the ruins of Fearn Abbey

Type and Period (3)

  • ABBEY (Built, Medieval - 1338 AD? to 1372 AD?)
  • CHURCH (Built, 18th Century - 1770 AD? to 1771 AD?)
  • PREMONSTRATENSIAN MONASTERY (Built, Medieval - 1338 AD? to 1372 AD?)

Protected Status

Full Description

See also NH68NW0010

Plans of the buildings, held separately in SMR - HAW 11/2004

The church building survives in use with modern cemetery around it. Clear evidence of several structural rebuilds with walls & doorways blocked. Interior retains a few original medieval structural decorative features, but generally removed. A coffin plinth with part person in it is now built into the external structural elements with exposure to the weather. No evidence of conventual buildings that probably lie in area of the graveyard itself, but also in the pasture field to the N and possibly underr the car park to the E. The manse lies in a large garden, that is on a markedly lower level to the modern graveyard. - HAW 8/2004

Fearn Abbey: Conservation Plan (LDN Architects), dated 15/12/00. See assoc. docs. File.
J Aitken : 07/11/01.

Remains of Fearn Abbey are generally as described and illustrated. It is still used as Parish Church.
Visited by OS (I S S) 29 August 1972.

The Premonstratensian Abbey of Fearn was originally founded 1221-2 or c1227 at Edderton on Dornoch Firth by Farquhard, Earl of Ross, but was transferred to a more suitable site in Tarbert (now Fearn parish) c1238. This is c10 miles SE of original site. Re-building took place from 1338 to 1372 and again in 15th century. It was annexed to bishopric of Ross, in parliament, 1609. The church is a simple oblong structure, and part of it is still used as the parish church. It has been much patched and altered. All traces of domestic buildings and cloister have now gone.
D MacGibbon and T Ross 1896-7; D E Easson 1957.

NH87NW 1 8373 7728 See also NH68NW 10.
Church (NAT) On Site of (NAT) Abbey (NR).
OS 6" map, Ross-shire, 2nd ed., (1907)

NH 837 773: Early monastic establishment of Nova Ferna.
Info from Dark Age Index by C W Phillips.


Report on condition of Church by Hugh Fraser with condemnation of the floor which is sinking, blocked up windows in the North wall and galleries which are useless.
1876 GD71/305/34

Report of storm damage to the window in the West wall of Fearn Church.
ND GD71/305/6

Request for payment of account for the new window put in the Church of Fearn by John Chisholm.
1807 GD71/305/28

Report on condition of Abbacy Church and of the New Church. Decision by the Heritors to repair the Old Abbacy Church.
1771 GD71/305/1

Estimate for repair of Old Abbacy ?200
1771 GD71/305/2

Slating of the Church of Ferne.
Discharge by John Ross, slater in Dunrobin.
1703 GD129/Box32/127 (Tain & Balnagown)


Advocates' MS 29.4.2(xi), ff.225-300 passim.
Advocates'MS 30.5.23, 130a-b and 131.

The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh contains, among the "Uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton" and numbered 131 and 132, Vol 1, a plan of this Abbey Church, By James Shand, dated 1815, to a scale of 10 feet to an inch; and another and more elaborate plan, also dated 1815. The situation is 2 miles inland from the North shore of the Moray Firth. Once an extensive Abbey, and later, till 1742, answered as the Parish Church.

Sources/Archives (16)



Grid reference Centred NH 83736 77286 (32m by 26m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH87NW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish FEARN

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Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

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