MHG8881 - Fortrose Cathedral


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • CATHEDRAL (Medieval - 1058 AD to 1559 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

Cathedral (NR) OS 6"map, (1959)
The cathedral of Bishops of Ross, dedicated to SS Peter and Curitan, was transferred from Rosemarkie (NH75NW 7) to Fortrose about 1235. Of building of this period only the undercroft of the Chapter-house remains; the upper storey of which was rebuilt in 19th century as a Court-house.

All other remains date apparently from L14th and early 15th centuries and consist of the vaulted S aisle of nave, and bell-tower. The ground plan was recovered c1870 by an excavation by H.M. Commissioners of Woods & Forests. The cathedral fell into disrepair about the time of the Reformation, but was partially repaired in 1615 and by 1649 was not v ruinous. Traditions says Cromwell subsequently removed most of masonry.
D MacGibbon and T Ross 1896-7; A R Scott 1873.

The remains of cathedral are as described above. The area of the nave is defined by shale and only a few base stones of buttresses remain. The graveyard to S. is still used occasionally, the extant portion of the Cathedral has recently been re-roofed.
Visited by OS (N K B) 9 March 1966.

The cathedral (including the cemetery and boundary walls) was listed at Category A in 1971.

The cathedral was included within the Fortrose Cathedral Scheduled Monument in 1995.

A series of excavations and a watching brief were carried out by Kirkdale Archaeology at Fortrose Cathedral in February and March 1996. The aim of the project was to establish whether the landscaped layout presently in place accurately reflects the location of buried elements of the cathedral structure. The extent of surviving remains was patchy, with noticeably superior masonry revealed towards the W end of the site, perhaps indicating the assumed two-phased construction programme between the nave and the choir. Sponsor: Historic Scotland
G Ewart and D Stewart 1996


Rough sketch showing the position of the Cathedral, Manse and crofts of the Dean and Chapter of Ross.
1859 GD128/30/7/1

The condition of the Cathedral and the Seaforth Tomb.
Roderick MacFarquhar comments on this in a letter which accompanies an estimate for enclosing the churchyard with a wall and providing a gate and pillars.
1825 GD45/12/7

Estimate for enclosing the churchyard surrounding the Cathedral with a wall and the addition of a gate and pillars. Letter from Roderick MacFarquhar, Fortrose, comments on condition of the Cathedral can the Seaforth Tomb.
1825 GD45/12/7


Fortrose is a small town in the Black Isle, Ross-shire, on the North side of the inner part of the Moray Firth, nearly opposite Fort George. It is situated ten and a half miles North East of Inverness. It was the Cathedral Town of the Bishoprie of Ross. A very small part of the ancient Cathedral yet remains entire. The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh contains, among the "Uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton", and numbered 134 in Vol 1, an external view of 1815 and an internal view of the Chapter House dated 1819.

NLS Advocates' MS 30.5.23, 133-39. Architectural drawings, mainly of 1815 (inc. plans by John MacQueen), and Scott (1873).

Scottish Magazine August 1933

Black Isle Local Plan, Sept. 1985: P14/2.28. Ancient Mons & Archyl. Sites. POLICY - The Council will safeguard Ancient Mons & Archyl. Sites insofar as this is compatible with the aim of achieving a sound employment base for the local popn.
J Aitken : 05/06/01.

Photo of drawing of mason marks made 1913-15 - HAW 11/2003

A Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey was carried out within the South Aisle building in February 2006 by the Orkney College Geophysics Unit to provide information about the stability of the floor. This was done in advance of the placement of heavy equipment to help support the vaulted ceiling during the replacement of existing wall ties, to advise of where the floor may be undermined by voids below. <1>

The cathedral was reassessed by Historic Environment Scotland in 2017-18 as part of a national dual designations project. It was proposed that the building be delisted but that it would remain part of the overall Fortrose Cathedral Scheduled Monument. <2>

The cathedral, cemetery and boundary walls were delisted by Historic Environment Scotland with effect from 31/01/2018. <3>

Photographs submitted by K. Crawford in 2023. <4>

See also:
NH75NW0090 Chapter House
Jhooper, 9/7/2002

Sources/Archives (29)



Grid reference Centred NH 7272 5652 (69m by 32m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH75NW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (2)

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.