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Dornoch Cathedral

Dornoch Cathedral
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Dornoch Cathedral

Located in the centre of the small Highland town of Dornoch is its cathedral, begun around 1225 by Gilbert de Moravia, the Bishop of Caithness, who became St. Gilbert. Often uncared for, the cathedral has been subject to several restorations over the years; reconstruction in 1428, burning in 1570 and collapse of the roofless nave in 1605 resulted in major repairs in the 17th and 18th Century The traditional burial place of the Earls of Sutherland, Elizabeth Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland (1765 - 1839), initiated a further lavish restoration largely with the intention of creating a fine burial-place for her husband, George Granville Leveson-Gower (1758 - 1833) and eventually herself. This scheme attracted some controversy at the time because a number of graves were disturbed, and their contents removed, during the work. The Duchess had rejected the high-Gothic proposals of architect William Burn (1789 - 1870) in favour of her estate architect, Alexander Coupar. As part of Coupar's work the remains of the side aisles were demolished leaving a simple cross configuration. The Duchess installed a sizeable statue of her husband, by Sir Francis Chantrey, in the choir, although this was later removed to Dunrobin Castle.

Today, the mediaeval core of the cathedral remains intact while it also features fine stained glass from the late 19th and 20th Centuries. There is also a memorial to philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1918), who lived nearby at Skibo Castle.

In 2000, the cathedral hit the headlines as the location for the christening of Rocco, son of American singer Madonna and her partner, English film-maker Guy Richie, who married the following day at Skibo Castle.


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