MHG9919 - Kildonan Church


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Type and Period (1)

  • CHURCH (Early Medieval to 21st Century - 561 AD to 2100 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

Kildonan church and associated burial ground (see MHG31407 for the burial ground).

ARCHITECT: James Boag 1788

NC92SW 18 9099 2073.

(NC 9099 2073) St Donnan's Church, the church of Kildonan parish to which it gives name, dates from about 1786, but stands on the site of its Early Christian and medieval predecessors. Name, dedication and tradition are all that remain of the original church, founded by St Donnan who died in 617. A large hollow stone, known as Donnan's Chair or Seat, stood half-way between Kildonan and Helmsdale (NC 91 NW 32). His fair was held at Kildonan until the 17th century. The medieval church consisted, in the middle of the 13th c. of nave and chancel with a small mortuary chapel of the Clan Gunn at the west end. This church was demolished when the present church was built, some of the material being incorporated in the latter.
OPS 1855; A B Scott 1906; D Sage 1889; OSA 1794; W J Watson 1926;

The church is still in use.
Visited by OS (W D J) 2 June 1961

The burial ground, excluding the church, was scheduled in 1969.

The church and burial ground were listed at Category B in 1971.

Within the older half of the present graveyard are distinct traces of an earlier irregularly-shaped enclosure, having church in NE corner. It is visible on the north and west as a well-defined raised ledge about 1ft high and on the east and SE as a slope, quite pronounced in the SE corner. The south side is lost under a modern wall and the SW corner is vague with what appears to be a subsidiary ridge running off to the south. A raised area at the east end of the church suggests earlier occupation. The formerly cross-marked boulder (NC 92 SW 22) is said to have been a sanctuary cross of this church and the carved "Abbot's Head" (NC 92 SW 19), Tigh-an-Abb (NC 92 SW23) and the cross-marked 'Clach n h-Uaighe' (NC 92 SW 1) also presumably have some connection with the church.
A D S Macdonald and L R Laing 1973

The environs of the church bear the traces of the enclosure planned by MacDonald & Laing, but the noted raised area should read at West, nor East, end of church. The church is still in use.
Visited by OS (J M) 8 Feburary 1977

Martin Briscoe has submitted photographs of this site to the Highland HER Flickr group. <1>

The church and burial ground were re-assessed by Historic Environment Scotland as part of the Dual Designations Project. It was proposed that the burial ground be removed from the listing but that it would remain a scheduled monument. The listing was amended in 2017. The original statutory listing adress was 'The Kildonan Old Parish Church And Burial Ground'. <2> <3>

GIS polygon buffered extent from OS MasterMap. <4>

Sources/Archives (10)



Grid reference Centred NC 9100 2074 (16m by 15m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC92SW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish KILDONAN

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