Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Argyll And Bute
Planning Authority
Argyll And Bute
NL 98368 47337
98368, 747337


The Congregational Church in the settlement of Cornaig was built in 1856, to replace an earlier thatched-cottage type church building. The church at Cornaig is important to the religious history of Tiree as one of two surviving congregational churches built by The Rev. Archibald Farquharson, one of the most influential figures in the history of the island. The building is small and simple, rectangular in plan, squared rubble (mostly whinstone) with 2 bays to the nave and plain gabled ends. There are large whinstone quoins, and pink Mull granite lintels to the openings (see notes).

Description: Entry into the building is through a raised single doorway to the centre of the S gable, with 3 stone steps to ground level and a timber boarded door. The N gable is largely plain, with evidence of a small window or alcove once sitting to the upper centre of the gablehead (now blocked) and topped by a small stone plinth with a slate cap. Each 2-bay nave has 2 evenly spaced window openings set close to the eaves. Here the large lintels are in stark contrast to the rubble walls, with only a course of rubble separating them from the wallhead, where the slated roof overhangs the wallhead resting directly onto the stone. Some iron fixings still remain attached to the margins of the windows, showing they were once shuttered. Beneath the right window on both nave walls are large, square holes in the stonework, which may have allowed drainage and ventilation beneath the raised, wooden raft-type floor inside.

Interior: currently extremely dilapidated (2005), with some evidence of the original form remaining. The floor was timber boarded, as were the walls up to cill height, terminated by a timber dado. Above this the walls were rendered and whitewashed. The roof was also timber boarded and coombed, with wide timbers running N to S and a single air vent formerly to the centre. The body of the church was filled with fixed wooden pews, the brackets for which can be seen in places on the walls although the majority of the pews themselves have been removed or have rotted away. To the N end of the church is a raised, central pulpit. Its timber boarded front panel is framed to either side by square timber newels topped by ball finials. The front panel is capped by a moulded timber balustrade. Behind the raised platform of the pulpit is the remnant of a 3-peaked timber backboard reredos, the shape of which can be traced in the whitewash behind. The roof timbers (now visible internally) have both a tie beam and a collar beam, the rafters returning directly onto the rubble wallhead of the nave.

Materials: random rubble; roughly coursed with some snecking. Lime mortar, with some evidence of a lime harl sacrificial coating. Whinstone rubble quoins; pink granite lintels; stone skews. Pitched, grey slated roof. Remains of 18-pane timber sash and case windows.

Statement of Special Interest

The history of the Congregationalist movement on the island of Tiree begins and ends with the Rev. Alexander Farquharson, who came to the island in 1831 as a preacher, having been told the island was the most destitute place in Scotland (see McNaughton reference). He settled with his family on the island a year later and remained there until his death in 1878. After his death, the Congregational movement slowly came to an end and finally stopped meeting in 1894. His work was hugely influential in popularising religion on the island, with many of his followers moving on to the established or Baptist churches, and he was also a noted writer of hymns and prayer in the Gaelic language. He is known to have built small thatched chapels on the island and also preached in houses, before eventually gathering enough support to construct the 2 more substantial churches that survive today. These buildings built by Farquharson continued to be used by other religious groups until they were finally abandoned in the later 20th century. The other remaining Farquharson church on Tiree, at Ruaig, has now been restored by a preservation trust. The church at Cornaig is significant architecturally for the use of pink Mull granite as lintels, suggesting that the building may have been built by the same men that came to the island to build the Skerryvore lighthouse, which was built from the granite after the indigenous Tiree stone was found to be too hard to cut to shape. Farquharson is known to have preached to these men and converted many of them to the Congregational church, and the acquisition of these good quality stones and the building of the church may have been a return gesture to the influential preacher. The church walls are well built and remain sound in the face of the inclement Tiree climate, and do not show signs of repair or reconstruction. This suggests that they may have been the work of professional builders and masons rather than locals, many of whom were still living in unmortared rubble, thatched cottages at this time.



1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1882). William D. McNaughton, Early Congregational Independence in the Highlands and Islands and the North-East of Scotland, Part 1, Chapter 9.

About Listed Buildings

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.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 22/05/2024 22:23