The ruins of the 13thC Cathedral stand in a green grassy park behind High Street and are reached through a lych gate built as a memorial to the dead of World War One. Their names are listed on the left hand wall. On the right wall is the shorter list from the Second World War.
At its peak, the cathedral had 21 canons and five vicars who all had houses built round the square. Now only the south aisle survives with its vaulted ceiling and a small hexagonal tower with a slate roof and a small clock on the south wall. Locked metal railings restrict entry into the south aisle. There is a comment about keys being available, but we couldn’t find any information where from. In fact it it possible to see nearly everything without a key.
There are three stone tombs under the arches which separated the south aisle from the now disappeared nave. These have the remains of statues on top.
The south wall is covered with marble memorials and there is a large stone vault of Alexander Mackenzie who died in 1766. This has classical pillars, carved urns and a portico with a carved shield. On the left are details of his life; on the right an eulogy to his many virtues.
There is a small separate stone building with steps up to the first floor. A small information sign refers to it as the north range. Other sources describe it as the chapter house. After the Reformation, the burgh council used the upper floor as a council chamber and the ground floor was the prison.
It was here, allegedly, the 17thC Brahan Seer was accused of witchcraft by Isabella, wife of the 3rd Earl of Seaforth, and condemned to be burned in a spiked tar barrel. His monument may be seen by the Lighthouse on the Ness. He had the gift of second site and is often regarded as a Highland Nostradamus.
When asked by Isabella why her husband was late returning home he first prevaricated, but when pressed simply told her that her husband was dallying in Paris with a lady who was more attractive than the Countess herself… In an alternative, rather boring version of the story, he may have actually been burned here nearly a century earlier for participating in a murder in 1577.)
There isn’t a lot left of the Cathedral and the inside of the ruins is beginning to look very unkempt with pigeon droppings. It’s worth stopping for a quick look if passing, but not worth a special journey.