Scheduled Monument

Reay, burial ground, old church and cross slab 175m E of Parish ChurchSM615

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Crosses and carved stones: cross slab, Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard; church
Local Authority
NC 96908 64819
296908, 964819


The monument consists of a burial ground, now closed to further interments, containing a burial aisle which incorporates the remains of a medieval church and which houses a cross-slab dating from the late 9th or the 10th century. The cross-slab is already scheduled, but this proposal extends protection to the whole of the burial ground.

The burial aisle measures approximately 5m N-S by 3.6m E-W internally, and has a gabled roof running N-S. It formed the burial place of the MacKays of Bighouse and other families, and was in 1909 described as 'recently renovated'. The gable of the S wall is obviously of more modern construction than the rest of the structure, and the doorway in the older masonry below has a roll-moulded surround, lending credence to the 16th-century date ascribed to the church replaced in 1739 (although the former existence of an earlier church is likely). The lower half of a blocked doorway is apparent in the E wall of the aisle and the jamb stones of this also have a roll-moulding. The burial aisle appears likely to have formed a lateral aisle projecting from the N wall of the original church of which no traces are otherwise visible. The parish church remained on this site until a new church was built 175m to the E in 1739.

The burial aisle incorporates several mural monuments, one of them dated 1691. It also houses a rectangular cross slab of grey sandstone, 1.9m long and tapering from approximately 0.7 to 0.6m wide. It is 0.1m thick. The arms of the cross are squared, but are joined by a ring of 4 lines. The cross has hollow armpits, each filled with a small circle, and a plain central boss. The cross-shaft bears the remains of elaborately carved circular knotwork, and the L and R arms of the cross bear a key pattern, but any carving on the top arm of the cross was replaced by the inscription and date ROBERT McKAY 17–. This inscription is not now legible. Below the cross is a panel of key pattern, differing in scale and detail from the pattern on the cross arms. The cross slab may be ascribed to the late 9th or the 10th century. It was re-used during the 18th century to cover a grave, but was moved into the aisle and set into its W wall some time between 1903 and 1910.

The burial ground has numerous table tombs and recumbent grave slabs, interspersed with a smaller number of 19th-century headstones, and is enclosed by a stone wall.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in shape, measuring a maximum of 43m NW-SE by a maximum of 65m NE-SW, and is defined by the wall of the burial-ground, which is included in the scheduling, and shown in red on the enclosed map.



No Bibliography entries for this designation

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 25/07/2024 10:40