This evening, I am focusing on possibly the most charmingly situated ecclesiastical buildings in Scotland. The Cathedral sits on the banks of the River Tay which in turn is within the magnificent scenery of Highland Perthshire.

Historically, Dunkeld was an important Christian centre to the extent that, in 849, King Kenneth McAlpin deposited part of the relics of St. Columba at this site. From this date we have some early carved stones, including the elaborately carved Apostles Stone which can be found in the Chapter House and features in video no 2 below.

The present Cathedral building was built in the late medieval era, viz:

  • The eastern limb was started in the mid- thirteenth century and finished by Bishop William Sinclair (1309-37).
  • The Nave was started by Bishop Robert Cardeny (1398-1437) and was eventually completed by Bishop Thomas Lauder (1452-75) who officiated at the consecration in 1464.
  • The South Porch which was extended by Bishop Thomas Lauder (1452-75).
  • The Chapter House. Again, initiated by Bishop Lauder. Building commenced on April 13th. 1457. This structure is a rectangular, two storeyd projection on the north side of the eastern limb. Its function may have been to house ancillary functions of the Cathedral’s clergy.
  • The Tower and West Front.This four story tower was, again, commenced by Bishop Lauder.

The building was extensively damaged during the Reformation in about 1560, principally removal of the roof of the Nave subsequent to which the community used the eastern limb for services.

In 1689 the Cathedral, because of its sturdy nature, played a central role in the Battle of Dunkeld when Government troops under Lieutenant Colonel William Cleland defeated a force of rebel Highlanders. Repairs were undertaken by the Duke of Atholl in 1691 and again in 1762. Further extensive restoration took place in 1814-15 and in 1908.

This building is popular with visitors to Dunkeld and is an integral part of the region’s heritage.

Note the memorial to the famous local fiddler, Neil Gow which features in video no 3.

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