Dornoch Cathedral

The Cathedral is a 13th century church set in the heart of the Royal Burgh of Dornoch, seeking to serve the wider community in which it lies along with its sister churches.

Dornoch, Highland

Opening times

Open all year, daily 8am to dusk.


High Street
IV25 3HN

In 1222, Gilbert de Moravia, a relation of the Earls of Moray and the first Earl of Sutherland, was elected to Bishopric of Caithness. The seat of the diocese of Caithness was originally at Halkirk, but owing to the brutal murder at this location of the two bishops who proceeded Gilbert, his first decision was to transfer the seat of the diocese to Dornoch; here Gilbert built Dornoch Cathedral at his own expense. It is uncertain how long it took to fully complete the Cathedral, but by 1239 the building was far enough along for the first service to be held. Gilbert died in 1245. He was later recognised as one of the noblest and wisest ecclesiastics the mediaeval church produced and was the last Scotsman to whom a place was given in the Calendar of Saints. From the time of its completion until the Reformation some 340 years later, Gilberts Cathedral stood in its original state. In 1570 it was set on fire and Gilberts tomb was desecrated during a clan feud between the Murrays of Dornoch and the Mackays of Strathnaver. Almost totally destroyed, except for the chancel and transept walls, the Cathedral was partially restored in 1616 by Sir Robert Gordon and again between 1835 and 1837. Of interest, especially to Americans, are the stained glass windows on the north side of the chancel. These windows were donated in memory of Andrew Carnegie, who was born in Dumfermline and often summered at his estate Skibo, located four miles from Dornoch. The three windows represent music, peace and literacy, three of Carnegies concerns.

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Social heritage stories

  • National heritage here

  • Magnificent memorials

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Captivating architecture

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Train station within 250m

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Parking within 250m

  • On street parking at church

  • Non-accessible toilets in church

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Dog friendly

  • Church shop or souvenirs

  • Café within 500m

  • Café in church

  • Bus stop within 100m

  • Accessible toilets nearby

  • Accessible toilets in church

  • Church of Scotland

Contact information

Other nearby churches

Croick Church

Ardgay, Highland

This pretty little church, which is still in use, is well known for the messages etched in the church window by families cleared from the surrounding land in 1845 as part of the infamous Highland clearances.

East Church

Cromarty, Highland

One of the finest 18th century parish churches in Scotland, but its roots go much further back.