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Dornoch Cathedral, Dornoch, Sutherland

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Caithness A - Z


Gilbert de Moravia planned the building.  He became Bishop of Caithness in 1222.  At that time the bishopric of Caithness was all of the land north of the Dornoch Firth.  He was also responsible for the building of St Peters in Thurso.

 Bishops of Caithness
  1150 Andrew
   1185 John
   1214 Adam
   1222 St. Gilbert
   1251 William
   1263 Walter de Baltrodin
   1274 Archibald Hayrock
   1279 Richard
   1279 Hervy de Donodei  

   1282 Alan de St. Edmund
   1296 Andrew
   1304 Ferguhard  Belegaumbe
   1328 David
   1341 Alan
   1342 Thomas de Fingask
   1369 Malcolm
   1381 Alexander
   1402 John
   1414 Alexander de Vaus

   1422 John De Grannoch
   1427 Robert de Strabgok
   1455 William Mudy
c.1470 Prosper
c.1502 Andrew Stewart
   Kings treasurer
   1518 Andrew Stewart
   1542 Robert Stewart,
    Earl of Lennox

Post-Reformation Bishops
1586 Robert Stewart
   1600 George Gladstanes
   1604 Alexander Forbes
   1616 John Abernethy
   1638 Robert Hamilton
   1662 Patrick Forbes
   1680 Andrew Wood

A fire destroyed a large part of the Cathedral in 1570 during a clan feud between the Mackays of Strathnaver and the Murrays of Dornoch.  The whole roof was destroyed leaving the chancel and transept walls mainly intact.  Sir Robert Gordon helped to re-roof the quire and transepts in 1616.  A slate quarry locally was used to re-roof the Cathedral.  The church was partitioned to separate the ruined nave from the other part of the church..  The T-shaped church of the quire and transepts was used for the next two hundred years.  The church originally catholic became presbyterian in the 16th century and was also for a short time Episcopalian in the 17th century.

1569 William Grey
1588 William Paip
1614 John Gray
1639 Alexander Munro
1648 George Gray
1680 John Ross
1690 William Mackay
1702 Archibald bowie
1713 Robert Kirk
1759 John Sutherland
1778 John Bethune
1817 Angus Kennedy
1837 George Rainy Kennedy
1843 Alexander MacIver
1853 William Forsyth
1863 Donald MacLeod
1866 Duncan Stewart
1870 Charles MacGregor
1878 Donald Grant
1906 Charles D Bentinck
1936 John G Levack
1951 William M G Edgar
1958 Frederick H Fulton
1976 James A Simpson
1998 Susan Brown

Elizabeth Duchess-Countess of Sutherland funded the restoration of the nave and repairs to other parts of the cathedral  between 1835 -37.  The architect was William burn who had jut completed work on St Giles cathedral in Edinburgh.  At the time the building was plastered covering most of the stonework.  However Rev Charles Bentinck had this removed in 1924 revealing once again the rich local stonework.
The nave has four windows in each wall.  A stone sarcophagus contains the bones of Sir Richard de Moravia brother of Bishop Gilbert.  Around 1240 he was killed in battle during a Danish invasion.  Six of the twenty-seven stained glass windows are to be found in the nave.

Between 1247 and 1733 the remains of many of the Earls of Sutherland were placed here.
The caps from the original windows have survived although the shafts on which they rested have disappearedThe caps are all different and the workmanship is considered to have been of the highest quality.  The windows in the Transept commemorate a range of people connected to the church or the area.

Chancel Windows
A set of stained glass windows on the north side of the chancel is dedicated to the memory of Andrew Carnegie who although born in Dunfermline and became rich in Pittsburg bought and lived at Skibo castle four miles from Dornoch.  There is also a Carengie library in Dornoch  - one of over 3000 he founded worldwide.

Madonna was married at Skibo Castle and later used the cathedral for the christening of her son.

Pages About Dornoch Cathedral on Am Baile
From Hugh F Campbell's book -1908

Source of information -  Dornoch Cathedral 750 Year Anniversary Guide 1989 by Rev James A Simpson
Pictures - Bill Fernie  - 12 April 2002
See Also
Stained Glass In Caithness

History Of Caithness chapter IV for more on Gilbert and other Bishops