August 12th 1560
Dunkeld suffersWhen 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.”
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.”
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.