Religious sites in United Kingdom

St Giles' Cathedral

A parish church was established in Edinburgh as early as 854. This first church, a modest affair, was probably in use for several centuries before a new one was founded in the 1120s. The 12th-century church was part of an effort of the Scottish royal family, especially David I (1124-1153), to spread Catholic worship throughout the Scottish lowlands. This church was probably quite small, Norman (Romanesque) in style, like ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Holyrood Abbey Ruins

Holyrood Abbey was founded in 1128 by King David I. The original abbey church of Holyrood was largely reconstructed between 1195 and 1230. The completed building consisted of a six-bay aisled choir, three-bay transepts with a central tower above, and an eight-bay aisled nave with twin towers at its west front. During the 15th century, the abbey guesthouse was developed into a royal residence, and after the Scottish Reform ...
Founded: 1128 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Church of the Holy Rude

The Church of the Holy Rude is the medieval parish church of Stirling. The church was founded in 1129 during the reign of David I, but earliest part of the present church dates from the 15th century. Construction on the new nave was underway by 1414, and based on the evidence of carved heraldry the vault of the nave was completed between 1440 and 1480. Work on the chancel did not commence until 1507 and completed around 1 ...
Founded: 1414-1480 | Location: Stirling, United Kingdom

St. Anne's Cathedral

St Anne"s Cathedral is unusual in serving two separate dioceses (Connor and Down and Dromore).  The foundation stone being laid in 1899 by the Countess of Shaftesbury. The old parish church of St Anne by Francis Hiorne of 1776 had continued in use, up until 31 December 1903, while the new cathedral was constructed around it; the old church was then demolished. The Good Samaritan window, to be seen in the ...
Founded: 1899 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

St. Magnus Cathedral

St. Magnus Cathedral was founded as a final resting place for the relics of St. Magnus. Work on its construction started in 1137. The Cathedral"s founder was Earl Rognvald who supervised the earliest stages of the building during the bishopric of William the Old of Orkney (1102-1168). Between 1154 and 1472, Orkney was ecclesiastically under the Norwegian archbishop of Nidaros (Trondheim) and after that it became par ...
Founded: 1137 | Location: Kirkwall, United Kingdom

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel was founded on a small hill above Roslin Glen in the mid-15th century. The chapel was founded by William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness of the Scoto-Norman Sinclair family. After the Scottish Reformation (1560), Roman Catholic worship in the chapel was brought to an end, although the Sinclair family continued to be Roman Catholics until the early 18th century. From that time the chapel was closed to ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Roslin, United Kingdom

St. German's Cathedral Ruins

The ruins located within the walls of Peel Castle are those of the former Cathedral of St German. Like the structures throughout the castle grounds, the cathedral's roof is completely missing. Robert Anderson examined the ruins to determine what repairs were required to restore the cathedral, and he reported to the island's Lieutenant Governor in 1877. However, none of the suggested repairs were carried out. There is ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Peel, United Kingdom

Inverness Cathedral

Inverness Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, ordinary of the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness. The cathedral is the northernmost cathedral in mainland Britain and was the first new cathedral to be completed in Great Britain since the Reformation. Bishop Robert Eden decided that the Cathedral for the united Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness should be in Inverness. The foundation stone ...
Founded: 1866-1869 | Location: Inverness, United Kingdom

Dornoch Cathedral

Dornoch Cathedral was built in the 13th century, in the reign of King Alexander II (1214–49) and the episcopate of Gilbert de Moravia (later Saint Gilbert of Dornoch) as the cathedral church of the diocese of Caithness. In 1570 the Cathedral was burnt down during local feuding. Full restoration was not carried out until the early 19th century, by the Countess of Sutherland. Among the "improvements" carrie ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dornoch, United Kingdom

Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata. In 563, Columba came to Iona from Ireland with twelve companions, and founded a monastery. It developed as an influential centre for the ...
Founded: 563 AD | Location: Isle of Iona, United Kingdom

Town Church

Originally known as Sancti Petri de Portu, many regard the Town Church as the Cathedral Church and the finest in the Channel Islands. The first mention of the church in official documents was in 1048 when it is thought to have been given to the Abbot of Marmoutier by William of Normandy. It is likely that the original building was made of wood. The current building was built over a 200 year period with the chancel complet ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Duddingston Church

Duddingston Kirk is a Parish Church, located adjacent to Holyrood Park. The church was built in or around 1124 by Dodin, a Norman knight, on land granted to Kelso Abbey by King David I of Scotland. As originally built, the church consisted of the chancel, nave and square tower. The traditional pattern of an east-west axis was adopted. The original entrance on the south wall includes a particularly fine example of Scoto-No ...
Founded: c. 1124 | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

St Machar's Cathedral

St. Machar is said to have been a companion of St. Columba on his journey to Iona. A fourteenth-century legend tells how God told Machar to establish a church where a river bends into the shape of a bishop"s crosier before flowing into the sea. The River Don bends in this way just below where the Cathedral now stands. According to legend, St Machar founded a site of worship in Old Aberdeen in about 580. Macha ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Arbroath Abbey

Arbroath Abbey was founded in 1178 by King William the Lion for a group of Tironensian Benedictine monks from Kelso Abbey. It was consecrated in 1197 with a dedication to the deceased Saint Thomas Becket, whom the king had met at the English court. It was William"s only personal foundation — he was buried before the high altar of the church in 1214. The Abbey, which was the richest in Scotland, is most fa ...
Founded: 1178 | Location: Arbroath, United Kingdom

St. Helier Church

St Helier's Church, known as the Town Church, is one of the 12 parish churches of Jersey. Helier was a Belgian saint who lived as a hermit on an islet in St Aubin's Bay, about three quarters of a mile off the south coast of Jersey. In AD 555 he was killed by pirates, beheaded by their leader who feared his men would be converted by Helier's preaching. In consequence Helier soon came to be venerated by the Islanders, and e ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Jersey, United Kingdom

Italian Chapel

The Italian Chapel is a highly ornate Catholic chapel on Lamb Holm. It was built during World War II by Italian prisoners of war, who were housed on the previously uninhabited island while they constructed the Churchill Barriers to the east of Scapa Flow. Only the concrete foundations of the other buildings of the prisoner-of-war camp survive. It was not completed until after the end of the war, and was restored in the 19 ...
Founded: 1943 | Location: Orkney, United Kingdom

Sweetheart Abbey

Sweetheart Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John de Balliol. His embalmed heart, in a casket of ivory and silver, was buried alongside her when she died; the monks at the Abbey then renamed the Abbey in tribute to her. Their son, also John, became king of Scotland but his reign was tragic and short. The depredations suffered by the Abbey in subsequent p ...
Founded: 1273 | Location: Dumfries, United Kingdom

Beauly Priory Ruins

Beauly Priory was a Valliscaulian monastic community. It was probably founded in 1230. It is not known for certain who the founder was, different sources giving Alexander II of Scotland, John Byset, and both. The French monks, along with Bisset (a nearby, recently settled landowner), had a strong enough French-speaking presence to give the location and the river the name beau lieu ('beautiful place') and have it pass into ...
Founded: 1230 | Location: Beauly, United Kingdom

Howmore Chapel

One of the most significant historic sites in the Western Isles, Howmore is a complex of churches, chapels, and a burial ground, on a site that may have been used in pre-Christian times. The main chapel dates to at least the 8th century, and may stand on a prehistoric site levelled to make way for the new buildings. Much of the site is enclosed within a short wall of 19th century provenance.There is some suggestion that t ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Outer Hebrides, United Kingdom

Dromore Cathedral

The present Dromore Cathedral was originally constructed in 1661 by Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down and Connor and has been several times expanded to its present size. The first church on the site was a wattle and daub building constructed by St Colman circa 510. This was replaced by a medieval church which was destroyed in the late 16th century. The church was again rebuilt and in 1609 elevated to the 'Cathedral C ...
Founded: 1661 | Location: Dromore, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.