Gilbert de Moravia

Gilbert De Moravia

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Gilbert de Moravia

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Gilbert de Moravia (died 1245), later known as Saint Gilbert of Dornoch, was the most famous Bishop of Caithness and founder of Dornoch Cathedral.

His name may suggest that he came from the semi-Gaelicized family of Flemish origin who were Lords of Duffus, and who during Gilbert's episcopate would create the Earldom of Sutherland under Gilbert's possible cousin, William de Moravia, 1st Earl of Sutherland. It is known that Gilbert was the son of one Muiredach, son of Alexander de Moravia ("of Moray", so not necessarily a family name). If Gilbert was of purely Gaelic origin, his name may be a Francization of the Gaelic name Gille Brigte ( Gillebrìghde). Gilbert allegedly had a younger brother, Richard de Moravia, who was killed fighting against Scandinavians and whose effigy-sarcophagus currently resides in the cathedral.

Gilbert then very likely came from Moray. He was for a long time the Archdeacon of the Bishopric of Moray. It is probable that Gilbert was elected to the see sometime in the year 1223, in the presence of King Alexander II of Scotland and his army. He was certainly bishop of Caithness by the summer of 1224. King Alexander probably decided that, after the murder of Gilbert's predecessor Adam of Melrose, the bishopric's seat (cathedra) should be moved closer to royal protection. So it was that Gilbert's episcopate saw the move of the bishopric from Halkirk in the far north of the diocese to Dornoch in the far south. It was to the new cathedral that, in...
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