Ancient Monuments

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St Duthac's Church, Easter Suddie

A Scheduled Monument in Black Isle, Highland

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Latitude: 57.563 / 57°33'46"N

Longitude: -4.2329 / 4°13'58"W

OS Eastings: 266521

OS Northings: 854738

OS Grid: NH665547

Mapcode National: GBR H8XQ.XFB

Mapcode Global: WH3DY.Y5JH

Entry Name: St Duthac's Church, Easter Suddie

Scheduled Date: 8 February 1993

Last Amended: 30 October 2018

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM5571

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Knockbain

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Black Isle

Traditional County: Ross-shire


The monument comprises the remains of a medieval parish church, first recorded in 1255. The church has a largely complete east gable and some other traces of walling. The monument is located within a burial ground on gently sloping southeast facing ground, at about 60m above sea level.

The church, aligned east-west, is rectangular on plan with external measurements of approximately 12.5m by 5.5m transversely. The east gable is largely complete with a stretch of the north wall, up to 1.2m high, running from the gable for around 5m. The footings of the south wall are visible, running from the east gable and can be traced for around 4m. The remaining circuit of the church is visible as a line of mounded earth with the inner area of the church evident as a depression. A later, roofed, mausoleum with crypt, excluded from the schedule, projects from the line of the north wall and may incorporate fabric from an earlier burial aisle. Elements of the church structure clearly date from the medieval period with the remains of an aumbry in the north wall. There is a carved stone plaque incorporated in the outside face of the east gable. The church sits on a slight mound with mounded earth visible around its perimeter.

The scheduled area covers the church and an area extending 5m beyond in each direction and is rectangular, measuring a maximum of 22.5m east-west by 15.5m north-south. The scheduled area includes the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The schedule excludes all grave markers and memorials post-dating 1850, the mausoleum and associated crypt and any active burial lairs.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The simple rectangular plan of the church remains readable and the east gable wall is largely complete. There is no record of archaeological excavation at the site though some relatively modern memorials lie within and around the church. There is high potential for buried archaeological deposits that could support a better understanding of the church structure. Historic records and architectural features, such as the aumbry and gable stonework, suggest that the church structure dates from the 13th century with later remodelling. The location of the church, on a slight mound suggests that there may be earlier use of the site as a focus for worship with the potential for archaeological remains associated with this earlier use. Scientific study could provide more information on the chronology of the site, including its date of origin and development sequence. Excavation of other medieval churches and chapels has shown that they were often re-modelled and structurally adapted.

There is also potential for historic burials within the monument and scientific study could reveal evidence for health, diet, illness, cause of death, and perhaps the types of activities people undertook during life over a long time period. Buried artefacts and environmental information may also provide information about the nature and use of this ecclesiastical site. The original function of the monument was as a place of worship and burial. The site may also have had other ceremonial or ritual uses for the local community.

Contextual Characteristics

This church was part of a network of parish churches covering Scotland and served as a central place of worship, baptism, marriage and burial for the local community. It was a focal point for society. It has a significance as part of this network of parishes.

The medieval parish of Suddie lay within the jurisdiction of the diocese of Ross and was part of the wider organisation of religion in later medieval Scotland. The parish was amalgamated with Easter Kilmuir in 1762 with both medieval parish churches, St Duthac's and St Mary's (scheduled monument SM5466), being superseded by a new parish church of Knockbain. Comparison of the local ecclesiastical architectural features in this area with those in other Scottish churches of a similar date may enhance our understanding of regional variation in ecclesiastical architecture in this period.

The name Suddie may come from the Gaelic suidhe which refers to a place associated with a saint, again suggesting that the site may have been an early focus for worship. In this interpretation, the name of the Saint has not been preserved in the place name suggesting that it may have been linked to the chief saint of area, St Curetán. St Curetán was an early Bishop of Ross believed to have been active in the Black Isle during the late 7th century. An alternative interpretation of the place name evidence has been used to tentatively ascribed a dedication to St Duthac, from which the church has become known. St Duthac was a popular saint in late medieval Scotland with a sanctuary and shrine established to him at Tain in the 13th century. Veneration of St Duthac spread from Tain into the surrounding area and beyond through church and altar dedications.

Associative Characteristics

The earliest record of the church is from 1255 when Pope Alexander IV confirmed the assignment of the parsonage of "Suddy" to the chanter within the chapter of the diocese of Ross.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has the potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular to the study of medieval churches, later medieval church organisation and religious practice. The monument can contribute important information about the origin, form and development of medieval churches and their physical adaptation after the Reformation. It can also inform our understanding of burial practice and medieval and later health, diet, illness, and cause of death. The loss of the monument would impede our understanding of the architecture and development of medieval parish churches in the Highlands of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 13577 (accessed on 13/07/2018).

Highland Council HER reference number MHG 8246 (accessed on 13/07/2018).

Saints in Scottish Place-Names (accessed on 13/07/2018).

Cowan, I B. (1967). The parishes of medieval Scotland, Scottish Record Society, vol. 93. Edinburgh.

Gifford, J. (1992). Highland and Islands, The buildings of Scotland series. London.

MacRae, N. (1923). The romance of a royal burgh: Dingwall s story of a thousand years. Dingwall.

Pullan, L. (1927). The banner of St. Boniface.

RCAHMS. (1979). The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of the Black Isle, Ross and Cromarty District, Highland Region, The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland series no 9. Edinburgh.

Scott, H. et al(1915-61). Fasti ecclesiae Scoticanae: the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation, Revision. Edinburgh.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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