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August 12th 1560

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Dunkeld suffers

When the Reformation reached Scotland there were no half measures and little time was wasted.

From the Privy Council “To our traist friendis the Lairds of Arntully and Kinvaid.” 
“Traist friendis, after maist harty commendacion we pray you faill not pass incontinent to the kyrk of Dunkeld and tak doun the haill images thereof and bring furth to the kirkyayrd, and burn them openly, and syclyt doun the altaris and purge the kirk of all kind of monuments of idolatry……and thisze faill not to do , as ze will do us singular empleseur, and so committis you to the protection of God.

Faill not, bot ye tak guid heyd that neither the desks, windocks, nor durris, be in any way hurt or broken - eyther glassin wark or iron wark.” 
Signed Ar Ergyll
James Stewart Ruthven

The orders were carried out with more enthusiasm than discretion. Not only were the alters removed but the windows were smashed, the doors torn off their hinges and the whole building unroofed.

It was another forty years before the Choir was re-roofed and restored for public worship. Even then the problems of the cathedral were not over. After the battle of Killiecrankie, the Covenanting forces under the leadership of Lieut-Col Cleland occupied a somewhat hostile Dunkeld to repel the victorious Jacobites under General Cannon.

The Government forces, in this case the Covenanters, used the cathedral steeple as their headquarters. It was a bloody battle but the tide was finally turned when the Covenanters sent their pikemen with blazing faggots to literally burn out the Highlanders. “With the exception of three houses the whole town was consumed.” 

In many cases, the doors of houses occupied by the Highlanders were locked from the outside and the unfortunate men burned to death. The next day the Highland army withdrew and that particular Jacobite rebellion was at an end.

Lieut-Col Cleland was killed during the battle and buried near the Tower where a simple stone with his name and date still stands.

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