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Torridon Open Air Church, 100m ESE of Am Ploc

A Scheduled Monument in Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.5469 / 57°32'48"N

Longitude: -5.5191 / 5°31'8"W

OS Eastings: 189514

OS Northings: 856217

OS Grid: NG895562

Mapcode National: GBR D8RS.2QW

Mapcode Global: WH08Y.6K3T

Entry Name: Torridon Open Air Church, 100m ESE of Am Ploc

Scheduled Date: 28 February 2000

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM8864

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: open air preaching place

Location: Applecross

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh

Traditional County: Ross-shire

Description

The monument comprises an open-air preaching place, used for some years after the Disruption by the Free Church congregation of the area around Torridon.

The monument takes the form of a natural amphitheatre, created within a V shaped cleft in the low sandstone cliffs that form the E side of the Ploc of Torridon. The cleft faces SE towards Loch Torridon and the open, seaward, side has been closed by a curved drystone wall.

The wall is crudely constructed with massive boulders placed irregularly and fixed by a great many small pinning stones. The site is regularly inundated by the sea and the S section of the wall has collapsed.

The enclosure created by the wall was entered at the north end of the wall, where the wall terminates at a massive standing stone, creating an impressive entrance. Within the enclosure, there are four concentric rows of boulders forming seating. The stone seating faces toward a natural pillar of rock, which has fissured away from the cliff. This is locally known as the pulpit rock, and may have been the focus for preaching.

Such open air communion sites were common along the NW coast after the disruption when local heritors denied adherents of the newly established Free Church sites upon which to build churches. As a consequence the Free Church were pushed to marginal sites, especially along the coast.

Such places of worship were often transitory and Torridon is unusual in the permanence of its construction and its formal layout. This may reflect an earlier use as a local meeting place, but the local tradition that it is a thing-place appears to be extremely recent. The site was last used for occasional services in the 1980's.

The area to be scheduled consists of the enclosed area back to the rocky slopes, and the wall. It measures about 45m NW-SE by 45m SW-NE, and is indicated in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a material reminder of the greatest religious upheaval of the 19th century, the Disruption, which led to religious and social change in Scotland. Its exposed location on the shore speaks eloquently of the initially marginalised position of the anti-patronage Free Church. The monument is one of the few preaching sites that have left any material remains.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NG 85 NE 15.

Bibliography:

Dixon, J. H. (1886) Gairloch in North West Ross-shire. Its records, Traditions, and Natural History with a Guide to Gairloch and Loch Maree. Edinburgh: Co-operative printing Limited.

Macdonald, M. (1997) Old Torridon. Notes on the History of Torridon. Evanton: torridon Publishing.

Wildgoose, M. (1998) Open Air Church, Torridon. The Recording and Consolidation of the Remains, Unpublished report.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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