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A Description of the Scenery of Dunkeld
The Cathedral


The tourist will not take leave of the home grounds of Dunkeld without visiting the Cathedral; not only because it forms a very interesting addition to them, but because of its own intrinsic beauty, and the claims to notice which it derives from antiquity . Embosomed in dark fir trees of very fine forms on one side, and, on the other, placed in a flower garden of exquisite disposition, it offers some highly picturesque subjects for the pencil, independently of its mere architectural details, which, in some parts, are, in themselves, considerably ornamental, and well deserving of the artist's attention.

Not long ago tending fast to ruin, it has been repaired and strengthened in a most judicious manner, without the slightest interference with that which remained, and on a principle well deserving of' imitation. here the mullions or other ornamental parts were in danger, they have been fastened by iron cramps; and wherever any fresh masonry was required for security, it had been so managed that the eye does not discover the repairs. Thus this building may yet stand for ages—the memorial of a period when Scotland vied with its wealthier neighbour, as far as its limited means permitted, in dedicating 110 small portion of its resources to the splendour as we'll as to the support of Religion. While we lament the fanaticism which levelled so many of out sacred structures with the ground, we must not forget to record the liberality which, though late, has at length interfered to prevent the utter demolition of these testimonies of the piety of our ancestors. Nor would it lie just to pass over the noble individual to whom Scotland and the arts are alike indebted for this attention, and whose name it must now be unnecessary to mention. With a liberality akin to that to which the country owes the bridge of Dunkeld, he undertook also to convert the ruinous choir into a church for the service of this parish. In effecting this, in a manner as durable as it is ornamental, the exterior of the building has, in this part, been restored, with some slight variations, to its original state; while the country has been provided with a church which helps to remove the discredit so often and so justly attached to these structures in Scotland. Thus the repairs of a part and the restoration of the rest, have gone hand in hand ; and every thing has been done which ought or could have been done to protect and preserve the whole, short of that entire restoration which was obviously impossible, It is due to the liberality of government, to remember, that the Exchequer advanced £ 1000 towards these repairs; and still more so to that of the Duke of Atholl, to say that his expense amounted to £5000.

It appears that Dunkeld was originally the seat of one of those establishments derived from St. Columba, which have been called monasteries of Culdees; and it is also related that the bones of that Saint were transported hither from Iona, by Kenneth M'Alpin. The early history however, like every thing else in Scottish antiquities, is both traditional and obscure. According to Milne, Constantine, King of the Picts.founded this, or some other religious establishment, in 729, and David the First converted it into an episcopal see in 1127, by creating Gregory the First, who was then Abbot of Dunkeld, a bishop. Gregory died in 1109. These bishops appear also to have been, at one time, the Primates of Scotland: but as other traditions make Cormac the bishop in the time of Alexander the First, there is some obscurity here which it , would be in vain to try to disentangle, Whatever the case may be, the succession of bishops on record after Gregory the First, or Cormac, is as follows: Gregory the second, Walter Bedur., John Scot, Richard de Prebenua, John of Leicester, Hugo de Sigillo, Matthew Scot, Giitiert, Galfred Liverance, Richard, David, Richard Inverkeithing, Robert d'Estoteville, Matthew de Crambeth, William Sinclair (the fighting bishop), Walter, Duncan. John, Michael Monymusk, John Peebles, Robert de Cairney, Donald Mac Naughtoa, James Kennedy, Alexander I.auder, James Bruce, William Turnbul!, John Raulston, Thomas Lauder, James Le-vingston, Alexander Inglis, Robert, George Brown, Andrew Stuart, Gavin Douglas, celebrated in Scottish literature, George Crichton, John Hamilton, and Robert Crichton; this last bishop ending in 1550.

What the nature of the earl} or original building was, is unknown, and cannot be conjectured, but the records of the present have been preserved. The choir seems to ha\ e been the original church, and was built by Bishop Sinclair, in 1330. The great aisle was added by Robert de Cairney, the 18tn bishop, and his successors; having been begun by him, and finished only under John Raulston, about the year 1450. In 1409, it appears that Thomas l.auder built the chapterhouse; commencing also the tower, which was completed by Bishop Brown in 1503. There are also marks of alterations about the building, particularly in the addition of a gateway at the western end, of which there is no record. That which the superstition of idle and profligate monks and bishops, as their posterity think fit to term them, thus erected, the superior piety of their successors thought proper to destroy, as far as they easily could, in 1599 ; giving thus s lasting proof of that asperity of temper, to say no worse of it, and of that conceit, which, in yielding to the indulgence of its envious and vengeful passions, flattered itself that it was solely act asked by a spirit of religion and of reverence to the Deitv. The monuments which this militant church had suffered to remain, were demolished, with the little exception that exists, by another species of militant force which formed its garrison in 1698.

With some exceptions, yet not greater than are found in many cf the ecclesiastical structures of England, there is much more uniformity of style in the architecture of Dunkeld cathedral, than was usual m the works of this class erected in Scotland. Still, it is evidently compounded: being borrowed, Witch from the Norman aichitecture which followed the conquest, and from more than one of the three properly Gothic periods which succeeded to that: chiefly however from the second and the earlier part of the third, the last of which lies in the reign of Henry the seventh. The dates of the several erections correspond sufficiently to justify this denvation allowing for those ornamental part= which, it is notorious, have, in all similar cases, been replaced at later periods than that of the original building. It is also very apparent, that, throughout almost all the Scottish buildings, unity of style has not been preserved in the same manner as it has been in England. This is easily explained by recollecting, that, in the latter country, the particular erections coincided in period with the introduction of each new style, of which they were the examples; and that, as this became obsolete, the fashion itself ceased ; while in Scotland, where the dates of the erections were generally far later than the first and second, and often even posterior to the subsequent style, the architects, from ignorance- or inattention, used indiscriminately whatever they had seen. The arts, in this part of the island, had not then made much progress: and want of adequate funds must also often have assisted in depriving these: buildings of that accuracy of design and propriety of ornament which the more ample means of the English church furnished or permitted.

To pass over that which now forms the church, the length of the remainder, or ruined portion, is 122 feet, and its breadth 62; that of the side aisles, on each hand, being twelve. The height of the walls to the spring of the main root is about 40. The tower is placed at the north-vest angle of the building', being about 90 feet high, on a base of 24 each side. The body seems to have been distinguished from the choir by a high Gothic open arch reaching nearly to the roof, which, being now built up, divides it from the church.

Six round pillars of Norman design, with two half-columns of similar form on the terminal wall, separate the main aisle from the side ones; their height, without the capital, being 10 feet, and the circumference 13½. The intervals terminate in sharp arches of the second style of Gothic, with fluted soffits, the capitals consisting only of simple mouldings. Above each arch is a semicircular window without ornament, but divided into two acute parts, with a trefoil in the interval. The third stage is a smaller acute window, divided also into two parts, with trefoil heads, and with a quatrefoil ill the interval. As there are seven arches, there are, of course, seven of both these kinds of window's in the length of the building. It should be added that the upper row is above thereof of the side-aisles, and that the semicircular ones communicate between these and the main aisle.

In the exterior of the building, the great western window is the most remarkable object; and, as far as can be conjectured from the remaining fragments of mullions, it appears to have been formed upon a very florid pattern. It is surmounted by a headband crowned with a finial, of the shape of the contrasted arch, so as to form a sort of canopy ; while it is thrown out of the vertical line of tile gable, apparently to make room for a small circular window with double spiral mullions; causing a strange want of symmetry without any apparent object. This small window is, however, of a very handsome design, and of perfect execution; and the gable is terminated by a florid cross, which is still quite entire.

The southern angle of the cathedral terminates here in an octangular tower, supported by a buttress, resembling a watch-tower, yet serving no apparent purpose in such a situation The effect however is pleasing, as the proportions arc elegant; the summit terminating without a roof, in an enlarged kind of parapet, supported on a rose-carved moulding, and perforated on each face by panelled quatrefoils. There is a staircase in this tower, communicating by an ambulatory through the wall and along the bottom of the great window, with the main tower. The window at the east end ot' the choir appears also to have been originally of a handsome design ; and it has now been restored with straight mullions, in the style of Henry the seventh's age.

The corbel table beneath the roof is still nearly entire, and there appear to have been pinnacles along it; while, if we may judge of the whole by the remains of one, compounded of tabernacle work, still to be seen at the west end, they must have been very ornamental. The principal door at the western extremity of the cathedral, which seems to have been an afterthought, A more modern alteration, has a deeply fluted soflit standing on clustered columns, and is accompanied by a smaller one, both termed of sharp arches; a circular headed one close to them, giving entrance into the tower There is also a lateral door entering through a porch at the south side; the remains of which, still displaying two crocketed pinnacle, bespeak considerable former ornament Two niches, one on each side, appear to have contained statues; which, as may be expected, must have beer among the first objects to suffer from the spirit of reform. There is also a canopy, which seems to have belonged to some armorial bearing.

The windows in the body of the church, which light the side aisles, are remarkable tor their diversity of design, as they are for beauty; presenting eight or ten distinct patterns, all formed on that plan in the division of the mullions, which marked the middle period of the sharp architecture. Combinations of circles are the most frequent.

The tower is a plain building with buttresses at the corners, and with three tiers of ornamented windows, somewhat irregularly placed. It seems to have remained unfinished at the angles; terminating in rude cones, m place, probably, of intended pinnacles; as it is surrounded by an ornamental parapet ot perforated trefoils, standing on a corbel table. It is not know n, at least, that such pinnacles ever existed, and that they had been demolished during the injuries which the building has undergone. The chapter house, on the north side, and attached to the body of the cathedral, is entire; containing, beneath, the vault of the family: and, above, a room once used as the charter room.

It is chiefly remarkable, outside, for the four tall lancet windows with trefoil heads by which it's lighted, and, within, for the remarkably perfect and prolonged echoes of the lower apartment. The notes of different chords, sounded in succession on any instrument, produce the most extraordinary harmonious effects, emulating those of the Eolian harp. It is not unworthy of notice, when on the subject of echoes, that there is one produced by the exterior of the house, which repeats the acute octave of some sounds without noticing the principal one.

There was formerly to be seen within the ancient choir, along the north wall, a very beautiful row of tabernacle work with trefoil heads ; but the internal reparations necessary for the church have covered all but two or three, which remain as specimens of what the whole once was. All else that is further to be seen deserving of notice, consists of some ancient tombs that have survived the general destruction. The most remarkable of these lies in the same place, now a vestibule to the church. It is a statue in armour, but not of very good workmanship, having a lion's head at the feet, anil wi:h the following inscription round the stone: "Hic jacet Alexander Senescalus, Films Koberti Regis Scotnrum et Elisabcthe More, Dominus de Buchan et Badenoch, qui obiit A. D. 1391"

This personage was the celebrated Alister More Mac an High; the third son of Robert the second, a Coram, and better known by the name of the Wolf of Badenoch. lie seems to have been the most active, if not the most powerful, of a powerful family, which once extended its rule as well as its possessions, not only through Badenoch and Buchan, but over Atholl, and far westward into Lochaber; holding there the lands which were afterwards granted to the Cordon on the downfal of this family, in consequence of their having sided against Bruce, together with others which seem to have fallen, in the usual manner, into the hands of Macdonalds, Macintoshes, and Camerons. Had the Cumin possessed wit or foreknowledge enough to have taken the same part as the Vicar of Brav, few families in Britain would now have competed with it in value of territory, and not one in extent. This particular gentleman, the Wolf, appears to have been a sort of Rob Roy in his day; that is to say, in much the same banner as Charles the twelfth was when compared to Carlouche; as he probably robbed with armies, instead of with a few breechless C'aterans. Like other great heroes, he seems to have had a considerable affection tor church property ; thinking it no sin to levy on fat monks and lazy friars. His eulogists (tor heroes always cat. command these) presume that he never entered a church but to levy contributions; until, as the baser vulgar phrase it, he w as carried there heels foremost. If he now claims that Dunkeld shall "canopy his bones till doomsday" it is probable that he obtained the privilege by disgorging to Walter, or John. or Michael Moneymusk. some of the good things of which he had robbed their fraternity in the north. Requiescat in pace'.

In the body of the church there is the tomb of a bishop; the statue, dressed in pontilicalibus, lying in a recess of the wall, under a canopy adorned with crockets. By some, this is said to belong to Bishop Sinclair; by others, to Bishop Cairney. The latter should be true • because there is, or was, a separate tablet of grey marble inscribed to Sinclair. The aims of Bishop Lindsay are also to be seen.

Of Gavin Douglas I need take no particular notice, as his name is far too celebrated to require it here. But Sinclair, who seems to have beer alike fitted to command either in the church or in the army, deserves some other record than that which exists on his obscure monument. It was he who, with sixty men of his own, made a junction with five hundred belonging to Duncan Earl of Fife, and defeated a party of Edward the second's troops near Dunnybirsel: displaying a spirit worthy of the Bruces and Wallaces of that proud era of Scottish history.


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