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Dunkeld Cathedral

We encourage you to visit the lovely Cathedral Church of Dunkeld, regarded by many as the most charmingly situated ecclesiastical building in all of Scotland, and we hope you will attend one of our Services at 11a.m each Sunday.

Meantime, we hope the following information will help you to appreciate just a few of the Cathedral’s most interesting features.

Position: Our fine Cathedral has a superb settrng on the north bank of the River Tay, opposite its confluence with the River Braan, surrounded by the Perthshire hills and sheltered by forest trees. Here the casual visitor involuntarily becomes a worshipper, experiencing the thrill of communion with the ages, and enjoying “the peace of God which passeth all understanding”.

Origin: Here you stand on Holy Ground. On this site as early as 570 AD. Celtic missionaries, known as Culdees, built a wattle monastery which, in 848, was rebuilt in stone by Kenneth MacAlpin, King of Scots. Some of the original red stones may be seen in the East gable of the Choir.

Architecture: The Cathedral is a mixture of Gothic and
Norman styles, and was built in several stages over a period of more than 200 years from 1260 to 1501. The restored Choir is the oldest part of the original Church, having been completed in 1350, followed by the Nave, (1447), South Porch (1460), Chapter House (1469) and
Tower (1501).

Dedication: The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Columba, whose name means “dove”. Tradition has it that his relics, brought from lona by Kenneth MacAlpin for fear of desecration by marauding Norsemen, were buried under the chancel steps.

Dove Motif: Look for this in the East Window, and on the
specially woven chancel carpet, a gift of the late Capt. C. A. Hepburn.

Great East Window: (Burmeister & Fulks). The topmost
section depicts the Christian virtues (Fortitude, Charity, Prudence, Justice, Faith Hope, Temperance and Patience). Beneath this are five shepherds gazing at the angelic host, while the lowest section depicts St. Columba addressing the people. Gifted by the late Sir Donald Currie of Garth and Glenlyon, 1908.

Turbulent History: In the turbulent history of Scotland, Dunkeld Cathedral twice suffered desecration and destruction.

In 1580, following the Reformation, the Privy Council issued instructions to local lairds to destroy “images of idolatry”. They interpreted this order freely as an excuse for widespread destruction. The building was partially re-roofed in 1600, but the Nave has never
been restored.

In 1689, during the Battle of Dunkeld which followed the Jacobite victory at Killiecrankie, the Cameronians, fighting against the Jacobites, though greatly outnumbered won a significant victory but.
at considerable cost, their Colonel (Wm. Clelland) was killed, and the Cathedral with most of the town devastated by fire.

A succession of repairs to the Choir in 1691, 1762 and 18 15 culminated in that of 1908 when it was restored as nearly as possible to its orginal form. More recently, a further programme of renovation was undertaken in 1975.

Things To Look For In The Sanctuary:

On the North Wall.
Armorial bearings, including the Coat of Arms of the Atholl Family, (over the Chapter House door). Scottish Horse Guidons, laid up here in the Regimental Shrine. Tricoleur, presented to the Scottish Horse in 1918. Queen’s Colours and Regimental Colours of the 42nd Royal Highlanders (now known as the Black Watch) which were carried in
the Crimea and Indian Mutiny and laid up in theCathedral in 1872. Memorial to the 8th Duke of Atholl. Other Atholl memorials are housed in the Chapter House.

Behind The Carved Oak Screen:
(designed by Sir Robert Lorimer)
Headless Effigy of Bishop Sinclair, a staunch patriot and
chaplain to both William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce during the War of Independence. The Black Watch Memorial, an impressive work in marble by Sir John Steel, RS.A. Wolf of Badenoch, a recumbent figure of the notorious Alexander Stewart, Earl of Badenoch, son of King Robert II.

Things To Look For In The Chapter House Museum:

Graphic Display, outlining the history of the Church and the community of Dunkeld and Bimam from Celtic times to the present day.

The Apostles’ Stone, A very fine 9th Century example of Pictish Art, showing scenes said to depict Daniel in the lions’ den and the feeding of the five thousand.

The Cross Slab from the 9th Century monastery.

Old Bell removed during the 1975 renovation.

Marble statue of the 4th Duke of Atholl, and impressive wall memorial to the 1st Marquis, showing the heraldic crests of those families linked in marriage with the Munays of Atholl.

Tombstone of the Atholl fiddler Niel Gow removed for
preservation from his bunal place in Little Dunkeld Churchyard.

Marble bust of Sir Donald Currie the 1908 restoration

Model of the intended Atholl Mansion House Never
completed and predecessor of the later mansion which is now the Dunkeld House Hotel.

Will You Help?
If you visit our Church, we ask you to place a
donation in one of the offertory boxes, so that this site, established by the disciples of St. Columba in 570 AD. as a place of worship and a centre for Christian evangelism, may continue to be a part of the living Church.

Before You Go.
Pause awhile to pray, in the communion of the saints. Find the Presence of the Lord and receive His Peace into your heart.

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