History in Structure

Dornoch Cathedral

A Category A Listed Building in Dornoch, Highland

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Latitude: 57.8804 / 57°52'49"N

Longitude: -4.0299 / 4°1'47"W

OS Eastings: 279720

OS Northings: 889692

OS Grid: NH797896

Mapcode National: GBR J7FW.SWS

Mapcode Global: WH4DN.2683

Plus Code: 9C9QVXJC+52

Entry Name: Dornoch Cathedral

Listing Name: Dornoch Cathedral, excluding scheduled monument SM10828, Castle Street, Dornoch

Listing Date: 18 March 1971

Last Amended: 15 September 2017

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 405668

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB24632

Building Class: Cultural

ID on this website: 200405668

Location: Dornoch

County: Highland

Town: Dornoch

Electoral Ward: East Sutherland and Edderton

Traditional County: Sutherland


13th century, cruciform with central tower and spire, subsequently much rebuilt; complete restoration by William Burn, 1835-37.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following is excluded from the listing: scheduled monument SM10828

All rubble with ashlar dressings. Exterior; 4-bay nave (1835-37 on medieval plan incorporating early west gable and window); 3-bay choir and 2-bay transepts, all with lancet windows tripled in east and transept gables and linked by continuous string course; angle buttresses. West door recessed under pointed arch with nook shafts. Large intersecting medieval Y-tracery window above. Small porch, similarly detailed as at west, in south transept gable. Central tower supported on 13th century shafted piers with early 17th century corbelled parapet and embryo angle turrets; early 18th century broached, slated spire (restored 1835-37); evidence remains inside tower of corbelled vaulting, probably to support roof that pre-dated spire. The clustered columns of the crossing piers, of irregular height with embryo waterleaf capitals are an important example of transitional architecture in Scotland. The remains of decorative arcading between the transept and choir windows indicate an elaborate original treatment.

Interior: pilaster rib-vaulted choir and nave (1835-37) rubble walls revealing some incorporated medieval masonry lath and plaster of the Burn period removed in 1929). Choir lancets linked by continuous hoodmoulds east window 3 lancets with additional lancet in gable (inserted after original building, but not replaced by Burn, west window follows design of original but raised to allow for west door. Transepts raised, bases of crossing piers still visible choir raised further (Sutherland burial vault below) and approached by 4 steps; recumbant effigy of Richard de Moravia and various mural monuments including classical monument to 18th Earl and his wife on s side of choir unusually fine collection of 19th and 20th century stained glass, including windows in memory of Andrew Carnegie of Skibo (1835-1919) by Percy Bacon, and to Rosemary Millicent, Viscountess Edam, daughter of 4th Duke of Sutherland and her son by Morris and Co (1930) and to 4th Duke in east windows by Christopher Whall. Richly carved wooden Gothic octagonal pulpit, communion table and choir seating date from 1911.

Statement of Interest

Place of worship in use as such. Founded by St Gilbert Murray (de Moravia) in 1224. Damaged by fire in 1570. Chancel, transept and tower restored in 1616 by Sir Robert Gordon of Gordonstoun, Tutor of Sutherland (during minority of his nephew, the Earl). Spire commenced 1728, still unfinished 1732. Rebuilding of nave and complete restoration, 1835-37, financed by Countess Elizabeth Dowager Duchess of Sutherland. Further restoration, 1924, when 1835-37 interior mural plastering stripped. Large statue of first Duke of Sutherland by Sir Francis L. Chantry, which stood at west end of church, removed to Dunrobin in 1980.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following is excluded from the listing: scheduled monument SM10828.

Listed building record and statutory address updated in 2017. Previously listed as 'Castle Street Dornoch Cathedral and Walled Grave Yard. (Cathedral of St. Mary and St Gilbert. Church of Scotland Parish Church).'

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