A strange sort of silence

The graveyard in Dunblane Cathedral at sunset

 We set off from Stirling as the sun set, one more thing on our to-do list before we headed home for the evening. A chance mention on an ordinance survey map, combined with a wide-eyed Google image search, had put Dunblane Cathedral on my agenda for my trip to Scotland.

Dunblane Cathedral is nearly 1,000-years old, although all that remains of that Romanesque building is the bottom half of the tower. Most of the building is in the Gothic style, with a mere 800 years of history behind it. The cathedral is exceptionally tall and narrow, which makes it seem even more imposing. It rises out of the ground and towers over the surrounding houses – ominous, neglected, alone.


Nobody really knows why Dunblane warrented such an epic cathedral. Dunblane is very close to Stirling Castle, which was the seat of power of the Scottish monarchy for a few hundred years. Why, then, build the cathedral 4 miles away, on the other side of a river? Which wealthy bishop, drunk on power, invested all of this money in a town which has no other important monuments, no other history, no real purpose? Was this meant to be the start of something and, if so, why did it never happen?

For most people, Dunblane is about one very specific, very sad event. On 13th March 1996, a crazy evil bastard who doesn’t deserve a name murdered 13 children, all just 5 years old, and their teacher while they got ready for a PE lesson. It’s one of the most shocking things that’s happened in the UK in recent history and the name of the town is indetachable from that horrific day.

By the time we got to Dunblane Cathedral, the sun had set and everywhere was closed. Unlike all the other monuments in the area, Dunblane Cathedral doesn’t get lit up at night. Is it too poor, or is nobody interested? If we had been able to go in, we would have found a vast stone cavity, with flying buttresses, Gothic arches, and memorials to those lost children. As it was, we stood in the rain and admired this wonderful, pointless building.

The outside of Dunblane Cathedral


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