Tain

Castle Brae,
Tain,
Highlands,
IV19 1AJ

About Ruins next to Collegiate Church

Tain is unusual in Scotland for the rare distinction of having upstanding remains of three medieval kirks or chapels. Each one owes its existence to the respect, amounting to veneration, in which men and women of previous times held St Duthac.

In the kirkyard, in the town of Tain, are the ruins of a chapel, much rebuilt and most recently the burial enclosure of the Rosses, described by James Shand in 1815 as the Ross Chapel. It is rectangular, measuring 32 feet by 18 feet internally with walls 2 feet 6 inches thick.

It is almost certainly the chapel destroyed by fire in 1427 or 1429 when the MacNeill's of Creich defeated the Mowat's of Freswick. Whichever side it was that took refuge in the chapel, its supporters were forced out when their opponents set fire to the thatch. Here, says Hay, the Crowners or clangeurs were slain by the Keiths twelve in number and two men on each horse. The walls of the Chapel where they were killed unawares were smeared with blood. Slaughtering one's enemies in kirk was such a common feature of Highland history that the traditions often became confused. In this disaster, some of the saint's relics and a number of charters and registers of the neighbouring Abbey of Fearn were lost.

This chapel is likely to be the building referred to in the Balnagown papers in the complaint of 1588 as ane house of auld dedicat for a schuilhouse callit the boithy and occupied by Alexander Ross. In the later medieval period, it could have served both as a chapel and a song school.

Find out more about The Collegiate Church and St. Duthus's Chapel, the Ruins on the Links.