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Beauly Priory

Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Priory (Medieval), War Memorial (20th Century)

Site Name Beauly Priory

Classification Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Priory (Medieval), War Memorial (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Beauly, High Street, Priory; War Memorial Plaque

Canmore ID 12700

Site Number NH54NW 5

NGR NH 52758 46489

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2017.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Kilmorack
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Inverness
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NH54NW 5 52758 46489

(NH 5276 4649) Priory (NR) (In Ruins)

OS 6" map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1907).

Church now roofless.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

Full description in MoW guide

W D Simpson 1954.

Beauly Priory is as described in the attached guide. It is under the care of the Dept of Environment and open to the general public.

Visited by OS (J B), 23 June 1975.

NH 5276 4649 A watching brief was undertaken at Beauly Priory (NMRS NH54NW 5) in November and December 1999 during a programme of trenching and topsoil removal to alleviate the poor drainage within the priory church.

The works were concentrated in the nave and choir of the priory church, the cloister and the S chapel. Approximately 100mm of turf, topsoil and gravel was removed, followed by the cutting of shallow drain trenches.

A number of broken, or deeply set grave slabs were located, and an opportunity taken to examine and photograph structural elements at the base of the church walls. The complete absence of finds, however, suggested that a clear-out of the church interior had taken place at some stage, followed by extensive landscaping operations.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Stewart 2000

NH 5276 4649 An archaeological watching brief was undertaken on the excavation for a floodlighting scheme within the Scheduled area of Beauly Priory. No archaeological features or deposits of interest were revealed.

Full report deposited in Highland SMR and the NMRS.

Sponsor: Highland Council.

S Farrell 2002.

Remains of Priory

(Cistercian Formerly Valliscaulian

Founded 1230) [NAT]

Mausoleum [NAT] (at NH 52770 46503)

Graveyard [NAT] (name centred NH 52718 46486)

OS (GIS) MasterMap, August 2010.

Architecture Notes


Publication Account (1995)

Only the roofless church of this 13th-century priory still stands. Said to have been founded by Sir John Bisset about 1230, it is one of only three houses of the French Valliscaulian order in Britain, the other two being Pluscarden in Moray and Ardchattan in Argyll. The church was laid out on a cruciform plan, having a long narrow nave without aisles and no tower, and it was considerably altered in the later Middle Ages.

The west front with its tall lancet windows was rebuilt by Robert Reid, Prior from 1530 to 1558. The nave has windows of several dates, including the three eastern windows in the south wall which are of a rare trefoil design of 13th century date, and it was once divided from the choir by a wooden screen west of the transepts. Between the nave and the south transept is the arched tomb of Prior Mackenzie, built in an odd mixture of styles and perhaps a 16th-century reconstruction. The north transept was heightened and its stair turret added in the 15th century; it contains the monument of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail dated 1491, and was restored in 1901 as the Kintail burial a isle. The chancel has early pointed windows framed in arcading, and the great east window, once filled with tracery and coloured glass, was inserted in the 15th century.

The priory buildings all lay south of the church. The monks' dormitory was next to the south transept, and the door to the night stair down which the monks passed from their dormitory to the nave can be seen in the south wall. Next to the transept stood the cloister, and in the south wall of the church are the projecting stumps of the walls of the west cloister range with traces of a first-floor fireplace. This building may at one time have contained the prior's lodging.

After the Reformation the priory passed to Commendators, or Lay Priors. By 1633 the church was said to be 'badly decayed'.

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

Watching Brief (30 May 2012)

NH 5271 4646 A watching brief was carried out on 30 May 2012 during the excavation of a trench for a new information board. Nothing of archaeological significance was recorded.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

Paul Fox, Kirkdale Archaeology


Project (February 2014 - July 2014)

A data upgrade project to record war memorials.


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