Dunblane Cathedral is the larger of the two Church of Scotland parish churches serving Dunblane. The lower half of the tower is pre-Romanesque from the 11th century, and was originally free-standing, with an upper part added in the 15th century. Most of the rest of the building is Gothic, from the 13th century. The building was restored by Rowand Anderson from 1889–93.
The Cathedral was once the seat of the bishops of Dunblane, until the abolition of bishops after the Glorious Revolution in 1689. There are remains of the vaults of the episcopal palace to the south of the cathedral. Technically, it is no longer a cathedral, as there are no bishops in the Church of Scotland, which is a Presbyterian denomination. After the abolition of prelacy, the choir became the parish church but the nave fell out of use, and its roof had fallen in by about 1600.
It contains the graves of Margaret Drummond of Stobhall, a mistress of King James IV of Scotland and her two sisters, all said to have been poisoned.
The building is largely 13th century in date, though it incorporates an originally freestanding bell-tower (like the example at Muthill) of 11th century date on its south side. This tower was increased in height in the 15th century, a change clearly visible in the colour of the stonework, and in the late Gothic style of the upper storey's windows.
The choir is unaisled, but has a long vaulted chamber which served as chapter house and sacristy on its north side. The choir contains the mural tomb of the Cathedral's founder, Bishop Clement. Many of the 15th century choir stalls, which have carved misericords (including one with an unusual depiction of a bat) are preserved within the choir. Further, more elaborate, canopied stalls are preserved at the west end of the nave. Dunblane has the largest surviving collection of medieval Scottish ecclesiastical woodwork after King's College Chapel, Aberdeen. Some detached fragments are displayed in the town's museum.
The cathedral was restored in the late 19th century under the control of Rev Alexander Ritchie DD, who commissioned architect Robert Rowand Anderson to oversee the works, with these works completed by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1912.
Preserved within the arcaded nave are two early Christian stones, a cross-slab and a possible architectural frieze, survivals from an early medieval church on the same site, founded by or dedicated to the 'Blane' whose name is commemorated in the name of the town.
Dunblane Cathedral churchyard contains two war graves, including that of William Stirling, a gunner in the Royal Marine Artillery during World War I.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.