The new Celtic cross atop the Old High Church is gently placed in position. Image courtesy of K2 Specialist Services Ltd.


Open-air dedication service open to the press and public: Monday 4 February 2pm, Old High Churchyard, Church Street, Inverness
Click here to read the prayers used at the Service of Dedication of the Tower Cross.
A new cross has appeared above Inverness as repairs to the tower of the Old High Church nears completion.
The cross, given by an anonymous donor, will replace the weathervane which previously crowned the top of the tower of the oldest church in Inverness.
The top of the Church tower, one of the most striking landmarks along the riverside, has been encased in scaffolding for some months.
The Minister of Old High St Stephen’s congregation, the Rev Peter W Nimmo, is to lead a short service of dedication for the new cross this Monday at 2pm, as the last of the scaffolding is taken down.
Click on the picture below to visit an album of images from the work to replace the top of the Old High spire.

Tower cross at Old High

Church members recently noticed that the ancient weathervane was leaning at a dangerous angle, and brought in specialist steeplejacks from K2 Specialist Services (UK) Ltd to investigate. Rope access specialists discovered that the top of the spire had been seriously damaged. The weathervane, which is in poor condition, had to be removed.
The damage to the weathervane includes what look like bullet holes in the cock’s wings. ‘The bullet holes are a real mystery’, says the Minister of Old High St Stephen’s, the Rev Peter W Nimmo. ‘I don’t know if they were caused by kids taking pot shots, or if they are a result of Inverness’s stormy history, like clan battles or Jacobite rebellions. For although the church was rebuilt following the Battle of Culloden, we know that parts of the tower are much older’.
The congregation decided on cost grounds not to restore and replace the weathervane. However, it will be stored, and it is hoped it will be put on display.
Other necessary work included making the top of the spire weathertight, and painting the clock faces. The council is responsible for the clock, whose bell still rings a curfew night at 8pm.
The reconstruction of the spire meant that a spike (known as a ‘finial’) more than a metre long would have to protrude from the top of the spire. According to Mr Nimmo, ‘I made a comment to our Old High property convenor, Jim Monro, that it would be nice to have a cross on the top. Soon afterwards he told me that an anonymous donor had generously offered to pay for the cross’. Conservation architect Hector MacDonald, who previously practised in Inverness, designed the cross, which is made of stainless steel.
The cross is Celtic style, with a ring around the intersection of the cross arms. ‘The cross of Christ is, of course, the universal symbol of Christianity around the world’, says Mr Nimmo. ‘It’s especially appropriate that we should have a Celtic cross, as the church is on the site where St Columba of Iona is said to have first preached Christianity to the people of Inverness back in 565 AD’.
It’s said that the ring on the Celtic cross represents the power of the sun. ‘The cross reminds us of how Jesus was put to death by people who thought his message threatened their power’, says Mr Nimmo. ‘The ring of the Celtic cross always makes me think of his resurrection at Easter. So this new cross we have raised above the city symbolises the powerful Christian story of human evil defeated by God’s love, and new life rising out of death. In these difficult days, it’s good to be raising such a symbol of hope over our city’.
The repairs are costing some £20,000, most of which has had to be met from the congregation’s funds, although they are grateful for a grant from the Common Good fund of £6,000. Anyone wishing to donate towards the cost of these necessary repairs to this iconic Inverness building can send donations to the Minister at 24 Damfield Road, Inverness, IV2 3HU.
To mark the installation of the cross, Mr Nimmo will lead a short service of dedication of the new cross this coming Monday, at 2pm. Anyone is welcome to come along to the open-air service, which will take place at the foot of the tower in the churchyard (access from Church Street). The Provost of Inverness, Councillor Alex Graham, will be present, as will be members of the congregation and the steeplejacks.
The invitation to Provost Graham came as a result of his invitation to the Rev Peter W Nimmo to help place a time capsule in the Town Steeple in High Street, where restoration work is also coming to an end. Mr Nimmo commented, ‘When we climbed the Town Steeple in November I pointed out the scaffolding which had appeared on top of the Old High tower and said to the Provost that since he had invited me to his steeple, I would certainly be inviting him to ours once our work was over!’
For more information, please contact the Rev Peter W Nimmo: telephone 01463 250 802 or peternimmo ‘at’ minister.com (replace the ‘at’ with @).
Click on the picture below to visit an album of images from the work to replace the top of the Old High spire.

Tower cross at Old High

Notes
Contact: the Rev Peter W Nimmo 01463 250 802.
The Old High Church is one of two places of worship used by the Church of Scotland congregation of Old High St Stephen’s (Scottish charity number SC035073). It is the oldest church in Inverness, and as the Town Church is the venue for the annual Kirking of the Council each September. www.oldhighststephens.com