MHG8689 - St. Duthac's (Duthus') Collegiate Church - Castle Brae, Tain


The Collegiate Church of Tain, built in the 14th century. It is no longer in use but is maintained as a roofed building within the churchyard.

Type and Period (1)

  • CHURCH (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

The Collegiate Church of Tain, built in the 14th century. It is no longer in use but is maintained as a roofed building within the churchyard. See MHG8684 for the original medieval church to the southeast and MHG31333 for the burial ground

NMRS Notes: NH78SE 3 7802 8218.
Ch. (NR) (Dis) OS 6" map, Ross-shire, 2nd ed., (1907)

Collegiate Church of Tain, dedicated to St. Duthus, is said to have been built by William, Earl of Ross, who died 1371. 1487, James III had it converted into a Collegiate Church. James IV and V made pilgrimages to it. The church measures 70' long by 22' 6" wide internally. It contains 4 bays, distinguished externally by buttresses, each bay having window. W wall has a niche on each side of arch of the window, N are still containing the statue of a bishop, presumably St. Duthus. There is a doorway in westmost bay of each side, the S door having had a large porch. From the Reformation until 1815 this was the parish church; it was then abandoned and allowed to fall into decay until 1877 when it was restored. It is now maintained for monumental and memorial purposes.
D MacGibbon and T Ross 1986-7. <1>

As described above, except for porch over S door which has been removed. The church is in a good state of repair and shows many signs of restoration. Inside is 13th century baptisimal font. The church is no longer in use as such but is maintained for memorial purposes.
Visited by OS (W D J) 18 May 1963.

ARCHITECT: John, Robert and James Adam-1754-report on repairs necessary to church

The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, contains, among the "Uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton", and numbered 147 and 148, Vol.1, a Plan of 1815, with references, by Jas. Shand; and Elevations, also of 1815, and also by Jas. Shand, of the old Collegiate Church of Tain, on South margin of the Dornoch Firth. There is also, numbered 146 in the same volume, a Ground Plan of the old Church of Tain, marked in pencil as "Surveyed and drawn by Ja. Shand, 1819" and to a scale of 10 feet to an inch; and, numbered 143 and 144, a sketch of the interior of the Church looking East, together with a sketch of the North side.

The former collegiate church, former original church and their surrounding burial ground were all Scheduled in 1969.

The former collegiate church, former church and burial ground were all listed at Category A in 1971.

Maintained as a roofed building within the churchyard. War memorial is mounted on the wall within. Very fine window designed with various foliage and fruit in style of Morris. The font is described as being from Suddie. The external figure is still within his plinth, but another is empty and there is a statue within described in guide literature as St Duthac. <2>

During works to the floor of the chapel in 1980, as a result of subsidence following flooding, several human bones were unearthed resting on top of a stone memorial slab. The Press and Journal reported that several such slabs were found with heavy iron rings attached. It was initially thought that these marked unrecorded tombs, however it is more likely that these were badly worn memorials that were formerly set in the floor and were then used as part of a foundation to raise the floor. Copies of the newspaper articles were given to the HER by Janet Hooper. <3> <4>

The statutory designations were reassessed by Historic Environment Scotland in 2018 as part of their Dual Designations Project. It was judged that the collegiate church would remain as a Listed Building (as well as the boundary walls to the burial ground) but that it would be removed from the Scheduled Monument. The latter would consist primarily of the unroofed former medieval parish church and the burial ground itself. <5>

The proposed changes by Historic Environment Scotland came into effect on 28/08/2018. <6>

Tain Museums holds one of two surviving fragments of the original Regent Moray pulpit built in St Duthus Collegiate Church after the Reformation in 1560. The church was unused from 1815 and both it and the pulpit fell into decay. When the church was restored in the 1870s a replica of the pulpit was built based on the remaining fragments and the memories of older parishioners. It is thought that the original may have incorporated parts of the pre-Reformation rood screen. The pulpit is said to have been given by James VI's regent, the Earl of Moray, in recognition of the town's adoption of reformed worship. Another story is that it was given by Queen Mary because of their adherence to the old faith. Almost 3 years ago Prof. Jane Geddes of Aberdeen University came to look at the replica pulpit which is in the Collegiate Church. She is of the opinion that the style of carving is older than the Reformation period and would have been produced for James IV of Scotland around 1500 and gifted to the Collegiate Church probably as choristers' stalls and then remodelled into the pulpit at the time of the Reformation with the work being paid for by the Regent Moray. <7>

Sources/Archives (15)



Grid reference Centred NH 7802 8218 (26m by 15m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH78SE
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish TAIN

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