Brechin Cathedral

Cathedral, Coffin (medieval), Round Tower

Site Name Brechin Cathedral

Classification Cathedral, Coffin (medieval), Round Tower

Alternative Name(s) Brechin Parish Church; Brechin Round Tower; Round Tower, Brechin; Cathedral Of The See Of Brechin

Canmore ID 35055

Site Number NO56SE 12

NGR NO 59625 60091

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Angus
  • Parish Brechin
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Angus
  • Former County Angus

Treasured Places - HLF funded (18 June 2007)

From at least the 10th century the site of Brechin Cathedral and round tower has been associated with the Christian church. Although many comparable towers are known in Ireland, the free-standing round tower is one of only two surviving examples from medieval Scotland

The 26m high tower is built of massive blocks of irregular sandstone and probably contained seven storeys with wooden floors. The original doorway to the tower stands over 2m above ground level and would have been accessed via a portable ladder. The round-headed entrance doorway is flanked by two projecting panels. The head of the arch is carved with a crucifixion and the main faces of each jamb bear an ecclesiastical figure or saint. To either side of the sill the panels are carved with crouching beasts. These carvings, together with the ornamented border around the door, may indicate a 10th-11th century date for the tower. Additional early medieval carved stones are located in the cathedral.

Information from RCAHMS (SC) June 2007

Cameron, N M (1994, 2007)

An image of this site has been nominated as one of Scotland's favourite archive images. For more information about the project visit

Archaeology Notes

NO56SE 12.00 59625 60091.

NO56SE 12.01 NO 595 601 17 Channonry Wynd Trial Excavation

NO56SE 12.02 centred NO 5965 6009 Kirkyard

(NO 5963 6010) Church formerly (NAT) Cathedral (NR)

OS 6" map (1959)

Architecture Notes


This A-listed structure, which is also Scheduled and in Guardianship, was recorded as part of the Listed Buildings Recording Programme for 1999-2000. The survey was proposed because of the visible deterioration in the carvings around the doorway and the primary emphasis of the survey was to provide detailed records of these. Accordingly, detailed photographs of the carvings were taken in varied lighting conditions and a measured survey was also undertaken.


For information on current thinking on the date and artistic context of the Round Tower, see N M Cameron, 'St Rule's Tower and early church architecture in Scotland', PSAS, 1994 (124), 367-378.

Ardovie tomb which was Category B Listed was demolished in September/October 1969 at the request of the Kirk Session.

Information from Demolitions catalogue held in RCAHMS library.

ARCHITECT: John Honeyman 1900 - restoration.

PLANS: Ian G. Lindsay Collection, W/60.


National Library of Scotland

General Hutton uncatalogued manuscripts vol. 2 no 12 - drawing and engraving

(Undated) information in NMRS.



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