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Inverness, Friars' Street, Dominican Friary

Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Friary (Medieval)

Site Name Inverness, Friars' Street, Dominican Friary

Classification Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Friary (Medieval)

Canmore ID 13333

Site Number NH64NE 12

NGR NH 66401 45569

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2024.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Inverness And Bona
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Inverness
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NH64NE 12 6643 4556.

(NH 6643 4556) Greyfriars Church [NR] (Remains of)

OS 25"map, Inverness, (1868)

Grey Friars Church...Ruin.

Name Book 1868.

Traditionally, the Dominicans or Black Friars, and the Franciscans or Grey Friars had each an establishment here but it was destroyed by Cromwell and the stones carried off for the erection of a citadel at the north of the town. The only remains is the shaft of one of the columns which supported the church which traditionally was connected with the Grey Friars Monastery occupying the space now used as a burial ground.

W R Macdonald 1902.

In 1233, King Alexander II founded a convent at Inverness not of Franciscans or Grey Friars as erroneously handed down by oral tradition, (Spottiswood) but of Dominicans or Black Friars.

Statistical Account (OSA) 1793.

All authorities are agreed that the order of the Black Friars was founded at Inverness in 1233.

F T Macleod 1911.

Dominican Friars, Inverness: This house whose dedication was to St. Bartholomew was founded by Alexander II in or before 1240, and was destroyed or secularized before 1566.

The date of the foundation of this house is not known. The Franciscan Friars. Supposed Foundations, Inverness. The idea that there were Greyfriars here is due to confusion with the Black friars.

D E Easson 1957.

All that remains of the Black Friars' Monastery is an octagonal column of ashlar masonry 0.7 m in diameter with the remains of the springing of an arch 2.4m above ground level. The total height of the column is c. 3.5m.

Visited by OS (W D J) 1 April 1960.

Continuing the work carried out previously (Farrell 1997), a photographic survey to enhance a number of sites which had previously been partly recorded was conducted, including:

NH 6643 4556 Greyfriars, Inverness.

A full report is lodged with Highland SMR and the NMRS.

Sponsor: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

S Farrell 1998


Publication Account (1977)

King Alexander II established a colony of preaching friars in Inverness at an unknown date. On 18th March 1436 the friary is said to have been almost ruinous in its structure and building (Cowan, 1976, 119). By the 1550s the colony of Dominicans had only five in number. A charter of 1559 records that the Black Friar's moveable property was placed in magisterial custody for safekeeping, but after the Reformation that property disappeared. All that remains of the friary buildings is an octagonal column of ashlar masonry with the remains of a springing arch (Ordnance Survey, Record Cards, Reference NH 64 NE 12).

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

Watching Brief (15 February 2010 - 28 February 2010)

NH 6643 4559 A watching brief was undertaken 15–28

February 2010 at Chapel St, Inverness, prior to a proposed

extension to an undertaker’s premises. The graveyard to the

SW of the development is a scheduled monument. It was

the site of the medieval Blackfriars, believed to have been

demolished by Oliver Cromwell in the mid-17th century. The

Ordnance Survey visited in April 1960 and found that ‘all

that remains of the Black Friars’ Monastery is an octagonal

column of ashlar masonry 0.7m in diameter with the remains

of the springing of an arch 2.4m above ground level. The

total height of the column is c3.5m’.

The scheduled area includes the site boundary wall and

as no archaeological investigation has been carried out there

the original site limit is unknown. Historic Scotland was

consulted and care was taken to keep excavations back from

the wall, which was not affected.

The footprint of the new building was machine excavated

in two spits to the first soil change below the surface

material. There was a considerable depth of topsoil over

the whole area, which had been disturbed repeatedly and

included 19th- and 20th-century bottles and disarticulated

animal bones (horse). In the centre of the site, the base

of one rectangular feature was noted in the subsoil at a

depth of c50mm. This feature contained the same topsoil as

elsewhere, could not be identified within the topsoil level

and contained no datable artefacts. It was interpreted as a

modern pit.

Following the clearance of topsoil and overburden

to a depth of c1m an inspection was undertaken of the

foundation trenches, which had been dug a further c0.3m

into the subsoil. Despite the disturbance it was clear that

the natural subsoil had been reached throughout and there

was no evidence that this area had been part of the Friary

complex. No significant archaeological features or artefacts

were recorded.

Archive: Highland Archaeology Services Ltd

Funder: J Fraser and Son


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