MHG8881 - Fortrose Cathedral


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Type and Period (1)

  • CATHEDRAL (Medieval - 1058 AD to 1559 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

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

See also:
NH75NW0090 Chapter House
JHooper, 9/7/2002
NH75NW 1 7270 5652.
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.

NH 7271 5652 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 location of buried elements of the cathedral structure.
The extent of surviving remains was patchy, with noticeably superior masonry revealed towards 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.

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>

Fortrose Cathedral and Chapter House. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12334.

Fortrose Cathedral, Chapter House. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12225.

Fortrose Cathedral, Chapter House. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12226.

Fortrose Cathedral, Chapter House. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12228.

Fortrose Cathedral. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12227.

Fortrose Cathedral. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12697.

Fortrose Cathedral. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12792.

Fortrose Cathedral. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12178.

Fortrose Cathedral. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12221.

Fortrose Cathedral. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12222.

Fortrose Cathedral. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12223.

Fortrose Cathedral. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12224.

Wilby, N M, {19--}, Fortrose Cathedral, Ross-shire (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2938.

Taylor, A, 02/2010, A Collection of Highland Buildings and Monuments (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG25366.

Scott, A R, 1873, Illustrations of Fortrose Cathedral, 2; plan, pl. 6 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2772.

MacGibbon and Ross, D and T, 1896-7, The ecclesiastical architecture of Scotland from the earliest Christian times to the seventeenth century, Vol. 2, 394-402 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2443.

Philip, A M, 1904, 'The cathedral kirk of Ross', Trans Scot Eccles Soc Vol. 1 1903-4, p.91-102, 91-102 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1631.

Cowan and Easson, I B and D E, 1976, Medieval religious houses, Scotland: with an appendix on the houses in the Isle of Man, 207 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2070.

RCAHMS, 1979, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of the Black Isle, Ross and Cromarty District, Highland Region, 21, No. 135 (Text/Report). SHG2675.

Dunbar, J G, 1981, The medieval architecture of the Scottish Highlands, 50, 55 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG3181.

Stell, G, 1986, Architecture and society in Easter Ross before 1707, 107, 110 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG3139.

Close-Brooks, J, 1986, Exploring Scotland's Heritage: The Highlands, 116-17, No. 54 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2053.

Fawcett, R, 1987, Beauly Priory and Fortrose Cathedral (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2186.

Ewart and Stewart, G and D, 1996, 'Fortrose Cathedral (Rosemarkie parish), excavation, watching brief', Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1996, p.74, 74 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG806.

Taylor, A, 2007-9, Photographs of various HER sites by Andrew Taylor (CD 1) (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG24382.

<1> Ovenden, S., 2006, Geophysical Survey Report 06/04 Fortrose Cathedral (Text/Report/Fieldwork Report). SHG26169.

Sources/Archives (26)



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

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