Scheduled Monument

Fortrose CathedralSM90147

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
Crosses and carved stones: effigy; sculptured stone (not ascribed to a more specific type); tombstone, Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard; cathedral
Local Authority
NH 72718 56527
272718, 856527


The monument consists of the remains of Fortrose Cathedral, seat of the diocese of Ross from the 13th Century until the Reformation, together With its surrounding burial ground.

The cathedral as originally constructed - probably during the first half of the 13th Century - apparently consisted of an aisle-less nave and Choir with a two-storey range of buildings attached to the N side of the choir. A square tower attached to the NW angle of the nave may also have been part of this first phase of building.

At the turn of the 14th and 15th Centuries, an aisle and quasi-transeptal chapel were added to the south side of the nave, work which is traditionally ascribed to the patronage of Euphemia Countess of Ross.

Although the foundations of the buttressed walls of the nave, choir and tower survive (and are marked out), upstanding remains are restricted to S aisle and chapel and the range lying N of the choir.

The S aisle is vaulted in 3 bays and the chapel in 2; the wall dividing them was subsequently pierced by an arch. Above was a pitched roof, of which one gable survives. A turret gives access to what was the roof space. Nave and chapel each have an arcade of 2 arches, originally giving on to the nave.

The blank wall separating the 2 arcades was later pierced to take a tomb. Buttresses survive and there are remains of traceried windows to E, W, and S. A porch attached to the S side of the aisle formed the principal entrance.

The range originally lying N of the choir is entered from the S at ground level and (by a post-medieval entrance) from the W at first- floor level. The lower storey is vaulted in 6 bays and the walls have blank arcading and lancet windows. The upper storey has been much rebuilt since the Reformation and is lit by square-headed windows. A stair lies within the thickness of the W wall.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in shape, measuring a maximum of 130m NW-SE by 80m. It includes the Cathedral, its burial ground and its enclosing wall, together with further open areas which may retain evidence for the larger burial ground which surrounded the Cathedral before post-Reformation encroachments, and for its method of enclosure.

The scheduling excludes all lairs for which rights of burial still exist and the surfaces of modern paved roads within the scheduled area. The area is marked in red on the accompanying map.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as the remains of the cathedral of one of Scotland's 13 medieval dioceses, and the seat of the see for over 300 years. It displays architectural details of both early and late medieval date of the highest quality. The remains provide evidence, and have the potential to provide further evidence through excavation, for the study of Scottish medieval architecture, and ecclesiastical organisation and demographic change in medieval and early modern Scotland.



RCAHMS records the monument as NH 75 NW 1.


Fawcett, R. (1987) Beauly Priory and Fortrose Cathedral, Edinburgh.

MacGibbon, D. and Ross, T. (1896-7) 'The ecclesiastical architecture of Scotland from the earliest Christian times to the seventeenth century', 3v, Edinburgh, Vol. 2, 394-402.

Scott, A. R. (1873) Illustrations of Fortrose Cathedral, Edinburgh, 2 plan, pl. 6.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Fortrose Cathedral

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Related Designations


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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

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Printed: 03/10/2023 01:08