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Kirk appeals for thief to return ornaments taken from historic Inverness church with links to Battle of Culloden

The Inverness Old High Church which has been broken into. Picture by SANDY McCOOK
The Inverness Old High Church which has been broken into. Picture by SANDY McCOOK

A number of ornaments have been stolen from a historic Inverness church.

The Church of Scotland is appealing for the return of the items, saying that the break in was “deeply distressing”.

While a spokesman would not confirm what the items were, he said anyone in desperate need could approach the church for help.

The church, famed for its connection to the Battle of Culloden and TV series Outlander, holds many ancient artefacts including markings on the walls said to be from defeated troops from the Battle of Culloden and documents and emblems of The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.

The Old High Church in Inverness is part of the congregation of the Old High St Stephen’s.  It was recently agreed that the church building, one of the most historic in the Highlands, would no longer be used for worship. The Presbytery is due to make a decision on its disposal at the end of March.

The Press and Journal earlier reported that regular services in the building are to end this month.

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “We can confirm that there was a break-in at Old High Church in Inverness.

A window being damaged in the process. Picture by SANDY McCOOK

Small window in the vestry was broken

“Office bearers were alerted on Tuesday morning that a small window in the vestry had been broken and the police were immediately called and attended the scene to investigate.

“Fortunately, the damage caused to the building is minimal and it appears that several church ornaments were stolen.

“We would appeal for their safe return as soon as possible and encourage anyone who has any information about who was responsible to contact the police.”

‘Deeply distressing’

He added: “Targeting places of worship in this way is deeply distressing for people of faith and we would advise anyone in desperate need of help, wherever they live, to talk to church members about their situation before resorting to this course of action.

“The building has been made secure.”

A police spokeswoman said: “Around 9.45am on Tuesday January 18, police received a report of a break-in at the church on Church Street, Inverness.

“Inquiries are ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 quoting incident number 0667 of January 18 2022.”

The Inverness Old High Church. Picture by SANDY McCOOK

Battle of Culloden and Outlander links

The churchyard walls still bear scars said to have been caused by Redcoat musket balls.

It has become a place of pilgrimage for many fans of the Outlander books and TV series.

The building holds artefacts from the local regiment, The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, including the regimental colours and the memorial books naming the soldiers who fell during conflicts.

Many of the men were Old High Church members and are listed on the war memorial on the outside wall.

The church also houses a Victorian ‘Father’ Henry Willis organ, which underwent a £200,000 reconstruction 20 years ago.

The church is still classed as the regimental chapel and the grounds are a designated Commonwealth War Grave.

It is also where the traditional ‘Kirking of the Council’ takes place.

A group, Friends of the Old High Church, to take forward the church, after it is agreed it will be sold, has been formed.

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