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Publication Account

Date 1995

Event ID 1016736

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/event/1016736

This simple chapel on the cliff near the sea is one of the oldest ecclesiastical buildings in Caithness and was probably built in the 12th century. It is now roofless, but the rubble-built walls stand almost complete. There is a short nave and a small square ended chancel which may be a later reconstruction on early foundations. The gable ends of the nave show it had a pitched roof, probably thatched. The present entrance in the south wall is modern; the two original doors are in the west and east walls, the latter connecting the nave with the chancel. The sides of the doorways converge towards the top where they are crossed by a flat lintel; such inclined jambs are also found in early Irish churches. There are now no windows, but the new entrance may have destroyed one in the south wall.

The footings of an early chapel of similar plan have been excavated at The Clow, near Watten, (ND 233524), and there is a similar chapel at Skinnet (ND 130620). These small chancelled churches are unlike others in the Highlands at that time, but are familiar in the Northern Isles, and their design was probably derived from Orkney, then ruled by the Norse Earls who also controlled Caithness.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Highlands’, (1995).

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