History of East Church
As the former Parish Church, and the historic place of worship for the town, the East Church reflects much of the fortunes of the society it served through the centuries, and is rich in the history of Cromarty and its people.
The East Church has been described as “the epitome of a post-Reformation Church”, “a true Presbyterian edifice”, and “of exceptional interest in a Scottish as well as a local context.” It ranks among the eight finest examples of its type in Scotland and is nationally significant in terms of both built and ecclesiastical heritage. The East Church is Category A listed and stands within a B listed walled graveyard in an Outstanding Conservation Area.
Harled, slated and T-plan in form, the church is likely to have developed from an initial slender medieval rectangle. Following the reformation in 1560 the pulpit was moved to the south wall and windows to either side enlarged. The north aisle was added to cater for an expanding congregation during 1739-41.
The interior contains box pews of the 18th and 19th centuries, one of which incorporates reused painted panels. The furnishings and movables are remarkably complete and include a number of rare survivals, adding to the authenticity and interest of the building.
The surrounding graveyard, in the care of The Highland Council, contains a number of memorials carved by the geologist, writer and church reformer Hugh Miller (1802-1856) during his time as a stone mason in Cromarty. The church is also significant for its associations with Sir Thomas Urquhart (c.1611-1660) and George Ross (c.1700-1786).
- A fifteenth century carved gravestone with a cross, long swords and an open book
- Galleries, also known as lofts, from the eighteenth century. The north loft bears the initials of the pew holders painted on the gallery front
- Fragments of an early eighteenth-century pew panel bearing the arms of the laird, Sir Kenneth Mackenzie and his wife
- The nineteenth century session house build over the tomb of the Anderson family, with a finely carved memorial tablet
- A memorial plaque to the great eccentric Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty, placed by the then recently formed Saltire Society in 1938
- A painted funeral hatchment to 18th century laird George Ross
- Wooden pegs for hanging hats and bonnets
You can download David Alston's historical report on the church for more detailed information
“Being able to look at a building in this detail is a real privilege. It is fascinating not only to study the building fabric and try and work out some of the stages in the church’s development, but also to look at the archaeology within the church.”
Benny Malone, Highland Archaeology Services