The Inverness Archive
Dave Conner Year: 2010Blackfriars Abbey (Greyfriars Cemetery)
An effigy of a knight, a remnant of the Abbey's heyday. It is thought this effigy may be that of the Earl of Mar, who was royal Lieutenant for the Highlands from 1411 until his death in 1435. He was buried in the Abbey.
In 1233 AD a Dominican Friary was constructed in Inverness. It was located on the edge of the Town Centre, directly opposite St Michael’s Mound, where St Columba of Iona is said to have preached in 565 AD. (There has been a church on that site since Celtic times, where the Old High Church currently stands)
The Friary or Abbey (Blackfriars) was disbanded in 1556 at the time of the Reformation, and the building soon fell into disrepair. In 1567 Queen Mary (Mary Queen of Scots, mother of King James VI and I) awarded the lands and church buildings of the Dominicans to the Council and Community of Inverness. In 1653 the Town of Inverness sold the ruinous buildings to Oliver Cromwell's local representative for use in construction of the Citadel at Inverness Harbour (several other large disused church buildings in the area also suffered a similar fate, and what stone remained was later used in the construction of a Castle at Inverness. (It kept getting destroyed!)
In 1935 a smart new Telephone Exchange was constructed in Friars Lane, Inverness on the west extremity of the Town Centre proper. It was built of sandstone, and despite its modern look ,the colour of the stone makes it blend in. The land on which is was located was where the Abbey's School had stood and the Exchange backed on to the Blackfriars graveyard - now confusingly called Greyfriars! This graveyard would have been within the actual abbey building, and nowadays only a sandstone pillar and an effigy of a knight (now mounted on a wall) remain of the actual building. The gravestones still legible all appear to be more recent, mainly 18th century.
In the 1970s, as telecommunications became more prolific (but before miniaturisation took full hold) there was a need to extend the Telephone Exchange, but it was not possible due to the ancient graveyard, although other land further down Friars Street was available. A novel solution was adopted, with a "bridge" (an enclosed corridor) at first floor level being used to provide access between the two buildings without disturbing those resting beneath.
The history of the Old High Church (including the Blackfriars Abbey): www.oldhighststephens.com/html/old_high_history.html
Picture added on 05 October 2010 at 23:46