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Dunkeld, Cathedral Street, Dunkeld Cathedral

Cathedral (Period Unassigned), Cross Slab(S) (Early Medieval), Grave Slab (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Dunkeld, Cathedral Street, Dunkeld Cathedral

Classification Cathedral (Period Unassigned), Cross Slab(S) (Early Medieval), Grave Slab (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Dunkeld Parish Church

Canmore ID 27156

Site Number NO04SW 1

NGR NO 02393 42595

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Dunkeld And Dowally
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Perthshire

Archaeology Notes

NO04SW 1.00 02393 42595

(NO 0237 4259) Cathedral (NR)

(Partly in ruins) Church (NAT)

Site of Monastery (NR)

Tower (NR)

Standing Stone (NR) (Sculptured).

OS 25", Perthshire, (1901).

NO04SW 1.01 NO 0237 4259 Roman Coins; Medieval Coins

NO04SW 1.02 NO 0237 4259 Pictish Symbol Stone

NO04SW 1.03 NO 0237 4259 Cross-slab

NO04SW 1.04 NO 0237 4259 Cross-slab

NO04SW 1.05 NO 0237 4259 'Hogback Stone'; Grave-slab

NO04SW 1.06 NO 0237 4259 Incised Slab

NO04SW 1.07 NO 0239 4258 Chapel; Tomb

NO04SW 1.08 NO 0237 4259 Tomb

NO04SW 1.09 NO 0239 4258 Tomb

NO04SW 1.10 NO 0237 4259 Cross-slab

NO04SW 1.11 NO 02463 42597 Gates

NO04SW 1.12 NO 02393 42596 Monument to the 1st Marquess of Atholl

NO04SW 1.13 NO 02393 42596 Black Watch Monument

For Dunkeld, Bishop's Palace (NO c. 022 426), see NO04SW 15.

Dunkeld Cathedral, founded before 1337 (D E Easson 1957) on site of the Dark Age See of Alba before removal to St Andrews. (Information from C W Phillips, DA Index)

M E Root 1962

The choir has been restored and is in use as the parish church.

The cathedral possesses several sculptured stones, one which was used as a gatepost at the entrance to the churchyard, and now stands on the S side of the church close to it. Another, which was used as a tombstone of a farmer in 1729, afterwards formed part of the pavement floor of the cathedral. This latter part of a cross-shaft depicts a horse standing on its hind legs. It is illustrated by Stuart.

J Stuart 1856; J R Allen and J Anderson 1903.

Dunkeld Cathedral is partly under the care of the D o E and is open to the public. The nave is roofless but otherwise in good order, and the choir is now used as the parish church and is in the care of the Church of Scotland. It has no name, being part of the Cathedral, but is locally called the Cathedral Church.

The sculptured stone formerly outside the S wall is now preserved inside the choir in the SE corner.

Another sculptured stone depicting a horseman, and a hog-backed stone, are in the tower, but there is no trace of the one used as a tombstone in 1729.

Visited by OS (AA) 17 April 1975

Dunkeld has been an ecclesiastical centre since at least 848-9. At that time, Boethius' Scottish Chronicle records that Kenneth MacAlpin 'brought relics of Saint Columba to a church that he built', and, although the name of the church is not given, it is thought to have been at Dunkeld. Apparently, Kenneth intended that Dunkeld should be the primary centre of the church in eastern Scotland, although structural evidence for this early ecclesiastical centre is lacking. Nevertheless, two stones bearing Pictish carvings (NO04SW 1.04 and NO04SW 1.09 ) and a large cross-slab (NO04SW 1.03) have been discovered here, and another stone bearing an incised horseman, now at the cathedral, comes from nearby (NO04SW 1.02).

Although the ecclesiastical primacy of Dunkeld was subsequently transferred to St Andrews (by 943), some form of church community survived until the revival of the see by Alexander I (1107-24). Work on the present cathedral was not begun until the thirteenth century; the choir was completed in the fourteenth century and work extended to the nave in the fifteenth century. Between 1450 and 1475, the west tower, the south porch and the chapter-house were all added. The see was declared void in 1571 and the roof was removed from the church, but in 1691 the choir was renovated for use as the parish church.

Notable monuments within the cathedral include: a coped medieval graveslab (NO04SW 1.05); an effigy of Bishop William Sinclair (14th century); the tomb-chart and effigy believed to be of the Wolf of Badenoch (died 1406) (NO04SW 1.08); and the tomb of Bishop Cardeny (died 1436) (NO04SW 1.09).

Visited by RCAHMS (IMS) 9 February 1990.

M E Root 1950; I B Cowan and D E Easson 1976.

Two class I and one class II [Pictish] symbol stones.

A Mack 1997.

NO 023 425 A programme of archaeological monitoring was undertaken at Dunkeld Cathedral during shallow excavations along the line of an existing footpath. A cobbled surface was exposed at a depth of 280mm, appearing to represent a cobbled entrance way into the cathedral courtyard.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Stewart 2000.

Cathedral (remains of) [NAT] (at NO 02370 42595)

Church [NAT] (at NO 02415 42593)

OS (GIS) MasterMap, April 2010.

Architecture Notes

Architect: J.G.Lough memorial to Major General Sir Robt. Henry Dick 1847

Sir John Steel memorial to 42nd Black Watch 1871

Dunn & Watson reroofed & refurnished Parish Church 1908

Ternouth, London monument to Lord Charles Murray

urn on plaque in Atholl mausoleum c.1824

pedestrian monument to 4th Duke of Atholl 1834

Patrick Murray monument to Atholl family in mausoleum. Designed by Alexander Edwards 1704. Finished 5.1.1713.

Choir of Cathedral now the Parish Church.


Inglis Photograph Collection

'215 Dunkeld Cathedral' print 1930s or 40s Acc No 1994/90


Photographic Survey (1900 - 1930)

Photographs by A Brown & Co of sites across Scotland c1900-1930

Photographic Survey (1987)

Recording of gravestones in the burial ground of Dunkeld Cathedral by Mrs Betty Willsher in 1987.

Observation (June 2009 - July 2009)

NO 02393 42595 This small collection, which was assessed during June–July 2009, has recently undergone conservation and has been set up in a new display in the W tower of the cathedral. Among the earlier pieces there is a hog-back tomb, the upper face of which has a cross with a stepped calvary on one side and clear tegulation on the other. A later piece is the tomb of Alexander Douglas (d 1547), where the slab is incised with the figure of a churchman, his hands clasped in prayer, wearing a fringed stole, chasuble and alb. A cross with a stepped calvary is incised to the right of the figure. Near the damaged lower edge, and therefore incomplete, is a shield with two stars above seven pheons(?) with a chalice above. This and other inventories of carved stones at Historic

Scotland’s properties in care are held by Historic Scotland’s Collections Unit. For further information please contact

Funder: Historic Scotland

Geophysical Survey (25 October 2012 - 9 November 2012)

NO 02393 42595 Geophysical surveys were undertaken, 25 October – 9 November 2012, in the grounds of Dunkeld Cathedral as part of a pilot research project investigating early medieval monasteries in Perth and Kinross. The cathedral grounds were surveyed with resistance and gradiometer, and a total station survey was also completed. High resistance readings indicative of building remains were recorded SW and SE of the Cathedral. The W group were a series of linear readings interpreted as remains of the late medieval Bishop’s Palace and Chanonry. East of this a prominent area of disturbance correlates with the site of St Adamnan’s Cottage; a demolished 19th-century mansion and designed landscape. Curvilinear anomalies indicated potential early medieval monastic remains in a level area at the SW of the grounds. Local volunteers assisted with the survey.

Archive: RCAHMS and PKHT

Funder: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

Oliver JT O’Grady, OJT Heritage



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