Dunkeld Cathedral, an important early Christian site in Scotland dating from 6th century.

(Above capture is image is a capture of Dunkeld Cathedral taken from the south.)


This evening, I am posting information on Dunkeld Cathedral in central Scotland, about forty six miles north of Stirling. The Cathedral, which is pleasantly situated on the banks of the River Tay, is dedicated to early Christian missionary, St. Columba who is famous for the 6th century AD site at Iona on the West of Scotland. Today, Dunkeld is a prosperous country town located in Highland Perthshire and popular with visitors.

For a brief time in the past Dunkeld was at the heart of the early Christian Church in Scotland. This status arose when King Kenneth McAlpin had part of the relics of St. Columba brought to Dunkeld in AD 849, probably for security in the face of Viking raids. Prior to this event, a wattle fabric, Celtic Church had been established on the site in AD 570 by missionaries known as Culdees. This building was rebuilt in stone by Kenneth McAlpin in  AD 848.

Historical and Architectural Information
  • The Cathedral is a mixture of Gothic and Norman styles and was built over a period of of over 200 years from 1260-1501. The restored Choir is the oldest part of the original Church and dates from 1350. The rest of the building dates as follows:
    • Nave, 1406-1467 (Three storeys high.)
    • South Porch, 1460
    • Chapter House, 1469
    • Tower, 1501. (Built by Bishop James Livingstone, 1475-83)

  • Significant physical damage occurred at time of the Reformation (switch from catholicism to protestantism) in 1560, particularly loss of the roof. Re-roofing occurred in 1600 but this did not extend to the Nave which remains roofless today.
  • The Cathedral was at heart of the Battle of Dunkeld in 1689 which was fought between Jacobites (catholic supporters of the exiled James 11/VII) and Cameronians (government force) with latter prevailing. Fire and other damage occurred at this time.
  • Repairs were undertaken at various times between 1691 and 1975. Today, it is the Choir of the former Cathedral which is used for worship.
  • Inside the church are military memorials and regalia together with statues to benefactors such as the 8th Duke of Atholl and Sir Donald Currie.There are also ancient, Pictish era, carved stones from the 9th century and time of the early monastery.
  • Inside the east end of the Cathedral is the burial place and effigy of the infamous, Alexander Stewart aka ‘Wolf of Badenoch‘ .
Ruined Nave

 'Twelve Apostles' Pictish era carved stone.

The Cathedral Today

The term ‘Cathedral’ is technically a misnomer because the building is now used for Presbyterian worship and no longer the seat of a bishop. The building is also used for concerts and weddings.The choir is the responsibility of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) whilst the nave and grounds come under the care of government agency, Historic Environment Scotland.


The Cathedral is open to visitors during the summer tourist season. Information brochures are available and local guides usually on hand for further information. Dunkeld and its Cathedral are usually included in tours of central Scotland.


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