In December 2000 the world's media descended on Dornoch and the surrounding area to cover the wedding of Madonna and Guy Ritchie. The wedding took place at Skibo Castle to the west of Dornoch, but the night before the wedding Madonna's 4-month-old child Rocco was christened in Dornoch Cathedral. Star-spotters had a field day as other guests to arrive in the town for the event, braving the thick midwinter fog, included Sting, Gwyneth Paltrow and Stella McCartney. Needless to say the event caused a considerable amount of disruption to the town, with a heavy security presence and traffic restrictions, but no doubt the majority of the populace were prepared to put up with that for the chance of a rare burst of excitement in this far-flung royal burgh.
Dornoch's origins can be traced back to the 6th century, when a chapel was founded by Finbarr, or St Barr. The east end of the present cathedral churchyard is believed to be the site of the chapel. The cathedral was built in the 13th century but was damaged by fire in 1580, then subsequently restored. Opposite the cathedral is the 16th century Bishop's Palace, now a hotel. The history of the parish is told by the Historylinks Museum. Like St Andrews, another cathedral city further south, Dornoch is noted for its golf links, the Royal Dornoch Golf Club. Birdwatchers, meanwhile, should head to the sandbanks of the Dornoch Firth, which is a magnet for wintering wildfowl and wading birds. Common and grey seals can also be found there at low tide.
Map of the area.