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Publication Account

Date 1977

Event ID 1017810

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


A cathedral at Brechin probably dates to the reign of David I at which time it was raised into an episcopal see. Survivals from any structure other than the present one was not suspected until 1900, when during restoration work, the southwest respond was stripped of its nineteenth-century plaster and disclosed a base about two feet (0.05m) higher than that of any other pillar in the nave. An arch four feet (1.22m) wide with Norman mouldings was found during subsequent excavations. The stone had apparently belonged to a chancel arch and along with other stones disinterred at the same time from the ruined chancel wall, indicated that a Norman church had originally stood on or near the site of the present building (Thoms, 1951, 3). The thirteenth-century cathedral, cruciform in shape and dedicated to the Holy Trinity, remained intact until major structural alterations were carried out in 1806. 'By general agreement' the aisles and transepts of the church were pulled down, leaving the nave to which new aisles and a roof were added (Black, 1839, 192). Thirteenth-century work still survives in the west doorway, two of the nave piers and in a portion of the side walls. The eighty-four foot (25.60m) long nave is flanked by eight pillars while a fifteenth-century tower guards the west door. The chancel is graced by an early seventeenth-century Flemish brass chandelier (Thoms, 1951, 8).

The most notable feature of the cathedral is the free-standing round tower which may have been associated with the religious community implied in the Chronicle of the Kings of Scotland. The tower, thought to be eleventh-century in date, stands eighty-six feet (26.21m) in height, capped with a conical roof added in the fourteenth century. The arched doorway is raised six feet (1.83m) above present ground level (Thoms, 1951, 19).

Information from ‘Historic Brechin: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1977).

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