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Fearn Abbey

Abbey (Medieval), Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Church (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Fearn Abbey

Classification Abbey (Medieval), Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Church (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Fearn Abbey Church; Fearn Parish Church; Nova Ferna; New Fearn; Hill Of Fearn

Canmore ID 15264

Site Number NH87NW 1

NGR NH 83740 77288

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Fearn
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Archaeology Notes

NH87NW 1 83740 77288

(NH 8373 7728) Church (NAT)

On Site of (NAT) Abbey (NR).

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

See also NH68NW 10.

The Premonstratensian Abbey of Fearn was originally founded 1221-2 or c.1227 at Edderton on the Dornoch Firth by Farquhard, Earl of Ross, but was transferred to a more suitable site in Tarbert (now Fearn parish) c.1238. This is about 10 miles SE of the original site. Re-building took place from 1338 to 1372 and again in the 15th century. It was annexed to the bishopric of Ross, in parliament, 1609. The church is a simple oblong structure, and part of it is still used as the parish church.

It has been much patched and altered. All traces of domestic buildings and cloister have now gone.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1896-7; D E Easson 1957.

NH 837 773: Early monastic establishment of Nova Ferna.

Information from Dark Age Index by C W Phillips.

The remains of Fearn Abbey are generally as described and illustrated. It is still used as the Parish Church.

Visited by OS (I S S) 29 August 1972.

NH 8373 7728 An archaeological watching brief was conducted at Fearn Abbey (NMRS NH87NW 1) to monitor any potential impact arising from the installation of services around the church and in the cemetery, and to record any archaeological features or material encountered. Some evidence for structural and other activity, potentially as early as the medieval period, was encountered. No in situ burials were disturbed during the fieldwork, although as anticipated a quantity of disarticulated human bone was encountered, some of which was lifted and retained. (GUARD 959).

Sponsors: LDN Architects, Heritage Lottery Fund.

K Brady 2001.

Architecture Notes

NMRS Plans

I G Lindsay Collection, W/323.

(Undated) information in NMRS.


Report on the condition of the Church by Hugh Fraser with condemnation of the floor which is sinking, blocked up windows in the North wall and galleries which are useless.

1876 GD71/305/34

Report of storm damage to the window in the West wall of Fearn Church.

ND GD71/305/6

Request for payment of account for the new window put in the Church of Fearn by John Chisholm.

1807 GD71/305/28

Report on the condition of the Abbacy Church and of the New Church.

Decision by the Heritors to repair the Old Abbacy Church.

1771 GD71/305/1

Estimate for repair of Old Abbacy ?200

1771 GD71/305/2

Slating of the Church of Ferne.

Discharge by John Ross, slater in Dunrobin.

1703 GD129/Box32/127 (Tain & Balnagown)


Advocates' MS 29.4.2(xi), ff.225-300 passim.

Advocates'MS 30.5.23, 130a-b and 131.

The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh contains, among the "Uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton" and numbered 131 and 132, Vol 1, a plan of this Abbey Church, By James Shand, dated 1815, and to a scale of 10 feet to an inch; and another and more eleborate plan, also dated 1815. The situation is 2 miles inland from the North shore of the Moray Firth. Once an extensive Abbey, and later, till 1742, answered as the Parish Church.

(Undated) information in NMRS.


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