The south aisle of the nave and chapter house survive at this beautiful red sandstone cathedral at Fortrose.
The cathedral was built in the first half of the 13th century, though it was extended and altered in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Earlier Bishops of Ross might have occupied a cathedral in Rosemarkie. However, the diocese of Ross wasn’t particularly wealthy, which is probably why the new cathedral was built on a relatively modest scale.
At the Reformation of the 1560s, the cathedral was used as the town’s church, although lead from its roof was granted to Lord Ruthven in 1572.
Charles I tried to encourage repairs in 1626 as part of his attempts to restructure the Church of Scotland on the same lines as the Anglican or English church.
Traditionally, Oliver Cromwell used stone from Fortrose Cathedral for building the new fort in Inverness.
The clock-turret is not an original part of the building, but is a later addition.
The sacristy and chapterhouse, those parts of the cathedral still standing in the 18th century were used for meetings of the town council and as a court-house. Unfortunately, these parts of the cathedral are currently closed to the public. The remainder of the cathedral site became a place of burial, and there are many fine post-Reformation gravestones and memorials here.
The cathedral was taken into state care in 1851 with restoration works taking place shortly afterwards. Further work took place in 1897 when collapsed masonry was removed from the site.
Overall, relatively little is known about the archaeology of the site, particularly the buildings that would have stood around the cathedral (the chanonry: things like guesthouses, lodgings for cathedral staff, workshops, the bishop’s official residence etc).
Region – North and Grampian
On the A832
Grid reference - NH 727 565.
Fortrose is a burgh in the Scottish Highlands located on the Moray Firth, north east of Inverness. The burgh is also a popular location for spotting dolphins.
Keys available locally between 9.30am and 5.30pm in the summer and 4.30pm in the winter.
Telephone 01667 460 232.