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St Mary's Church and Burial Ground, Dunvegan

A Scheduled Monument in Eilean á Chèo, Highland

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Latitude: 57.4375 / 57°26'14"N

Longitude: -6.5761 / 6°34'34"W

OS Eastings: 125492

OS Northings: 847822

OS Grid: NG254478

Mapcode National: GBR B942.4ND

Mapcode Global: WGX5L.YBN6

Entry Name: St Mary's Church and Burial Ground, Dunvegan

Scheduled Date: 8 December 2000

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM9249

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: tombstone; Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Duirinish

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Eilean á Chèo

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument consists of the remains of a post-Reformation parish church and burial ground, which served Duirnish. The churchyard is still known as Kilmuir as is the adjoining township, preserving the dedication to St Mary. The dedication, together with the E-W alignment of the church and the existence of three medieval carved grave slabs, indicates that the church was a medieval foundation, although the parish itself dates to the post-reformation period.

The church is a plain rubble-built oblong structure with simple stone dressings to the openings. The W gable is surmounted by the truncated remains of a corbelled belcote. The N door to the church has a fine moulded doorway which is inscribed 'I ML 1694'. There are indications that this door has been reused from another building: it is rebated for double doors, and appears to have been heightened.

The ashlar burial aisle against the E end of the N elevation is an addition dating to the 18th century. A burial enclosure against the west gable has a fine moulded doorway dated 1735 and a balustrade. The E end of the church and the N aisle have been used as the burial place of the MacLeods of MacLeod, with arched recesses formed in the church's walls to house the memorials.

Within the Kirkyard there are two medieval grave slabs with claymore and foliaceous designs. A third medieval grave slab has been identified but it is extremely worn with only the border now visible. There are also a number of 'throuch' stones dating from the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries.

The area to be scheduled includes the church and the old burial ground. It is defined by the boundary wall of the burial ground. The area is roughly rectangular with maximum dimensions of about 88m from its easternmost to its westernmost points, and 91m from its northernmost to southernmost points, as marked in red on the attached map. All modern burial lairs still in use, within and without the church, are excluded from the scheduling.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a site that has been the focus of religious worship over centuries. The church's position within the locality of Dunvegan Castle suggests it may have served as a chapel for the castle and its associated settlements in the medieval period. The carved grave-slabs can contribute to our understanding of ecclesiastical organisation, funerary practices, art, and the organisation of the production of monuments sculpture in western Scotland in the late medieval period.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NG 24 NE 1.


RCAHMS (1971) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isle, 1928.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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