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Dunaverty Rock from the sea


The following is a short account of the old Churches and Chapels of Kintyre, which such
details of their history and
and associations is deemed desirable.

The source of information upon which it is based are such works as Captain White's
"Archaeological Sketches of Kintyre" and of "Gigha and Cara", "The New Statistical
Account of Scotland", published in 1845; "Origines Parochiales" by Cosmo Innes, as well as
numerous works, papers, extracts etc. to which I have been able to obtain access.

All the Churches and all but two or three of the most inaccessible Chapels have been
personally visited, even Sanda, Gigha and what must be rare, Cara and a selection of
photographs of their most salient features, also taken by myself, accompanies this
account. [In the original typed volume in the library of The Kintyre Antiquarian Society,
there are over seventy original photographic illustrations, which must enhance its value. In
this booklet expense limits the number].

The ruins are not, it is considered, as a rule, earlier than the 13th century, although, in
many cases, they may be descendants of earlier ones, even in some cases, replacing the
primitive churches of "wattles", which formed the original dedication.



Churches - 1 Kilcolmkill
- 2 Kilblaan

Chapels - 3 St Ninian's, Sanda

- 4 Nameless Chapel, Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse Road
- 5 Lag-na-cloiche or Kattikill
- 6 Caibel Carrine
- 7 St. Coivin's, Macharioch
- 8 Kilirvan or Kilcalmonell
- 9 Kilchattan
- 10 Caibel Innean Coig Cailleach
- 11 Kilbride
- 12 Kilinashenachan
- 13 Kildavie


Churches - 1 Kilkerran
- 2 Kilmichael
- 3 Kilchousland
- 4 Kilkivan

Chapels - 5 Killellan
- 6 Kilwhipnach
- 7 Kilchrist
- 8 Uigle (at Achadh an t-sagairt)
- 9 Killeonan
- 10 Kildonald (or Kildonnan)
- 11 Kilkeddan


Churches - 1 Kilkenzie
- 2 Kilmarow or Kilarrow
- 3 Killean

Chapels - 4 Kilmaho
- 5 Killocraw
- 6 Killagruar
- 7 Kilmaluag
- 8 Chapel - Loch na Cain


Churches - 1 Kilcalmonell

Chapels - 2 Chadh Bhride

- 3 Kilmichael - at Ballochroy
- 4 Cladh Mhiceil and Kilchamaig


Church - 1 Saddell Abbey

- 2 Kilbrannan (Chapel)
- 3 Crossaig or "Crusay" Monastery
Chapel - 4 The Caibeal, Torrisdale.


Church - 1 Gigha

Chapel - 2 Cara


1 Dunaverty - from Sea

2 Kilcolmkill - Dean Howson's Cross
3 Sanda - St. Ninian's Cross
4 Kilmichael - Fragment Sculptured Stone (Photograph Missing)
5 Kilchousland - Window showing McNinian's Point
6 Kilchousland - Interior West Wall
7 Killean - Sculptured Stones
8 Saddell Abbey - Sculptured Stones
9 Kilbrannan Chapel - Main Door
10 Gigha - East Window and Font


This comprises the two ancient parishes of Kilcolmkill and Kilblaan, which were united by a
Commission of Parlianient in the year 1617. It also originally embraced the old parish of
Kilkivan, but this was transferred to the Parish of Campbeltown in the year 1772, not 1671,
as is often erroneously stated.

The ruins of the old Parish Church of Kilcolmkill, or at least the last surviving one, are still to
be seen, as well as to a less extent, those of eight other chapels or dependent oratories,
while the topical nomenclature suggests that a few more religious erections of which no
trace now remains, formerly existed in the parish.

Kilcolmkill - Dean Howson's Cross


Picturesquely nestling in a quiet sequestered nook under the shelter of the tall bluff of Keil
Point, this is situated close to the seashore about a mile from the village of Southend, in
view of the coast of Northern Ireland, the old "Scotia" from which the early Dalriadic
colonists originally crossed to Kintyre. Sanda, lacking neither in sarced nor in secular
associations of historic importance, the rugged ancient keep of Dunaverty of ghastly
memory, the familiar "Paddy's Milestone", Ailsa Craig) raising its obtrusive hump in the
middle of the North Channel and, in the south-eastern distance, the coasts of Wigtownshire,
from whose ancient monastery of Candida Casa, not merely was the gospel of Christianity
promulgated at a yery early date, but which also owned a by no means inconsiderable
amount of valuable land and property in South Kintyre.

According to the careful measurements of Captain White, the walls of this ancient church
are 73 feet 9 inches long, 19 feet broad, and 2½ feet thick (external measurements). He
points out a curious discrepancy in the width of the end walls, the west gable being 4
inches shorter than the east, a discrepancy also strangely enough met with in Skipness

The building is exceptional in that the length so greatly exceeds the breadth, and about 30
feet from the east end of the north wall there is a very distinct vertical line of junction; the

masonry being squared and bonded in more regular blocks and better pointed with mortar,
in the eastern third, than in the western two-thirds of this wall.

This appearance is almost certainly to be attributed to elongation of the oringinal edifice at

some time or another, by adding about 30 feet to its eastern end.

In his "Sketches", Captain White remarks that on a second visit to this interesting spot, he
discovered "built into the outside face of the east gable wall, a moulded fragment, which, in
all probability had been the head of the now missing east window".

It lies near the north end of this gable wall on a level with the top of the railing round
McDonald of Sanda's burial place.
It was the couplet arch head of this small window, divided into two by a single pentagonal
shaft, and its presence in such a situation implies that this gable must have been built since
Reformation times, as only, it is urged, by those hostile or indifferent to the precious relics
of mediaeval sculpture could such a degrading solecism in ecclesiological coustruction or
restoration have been perpetrated or permitted. The presence of some sculptured
fragments of stone at the base of the north wall near its eastern end, fragments obviously
of a former erection, also support such a view.

The addition may have been made after the union of the original parishes of Kilcolmkill,
Kilblaan and Kilkivan, in 1617, the church being found too small for the combined
congregations, and the Presbytery Records indicate that the church continued in use for
some 50 years after this date. A similar union, even more distinct, is found in the north wall
of the church at Kilchousland, whatever the explanation may be.

The external walls of Kilcolmkill are, comparatively speaking complete, standing about 10
feet high, with obtuse angled gables, whose apices were about 15 feet in height, although
the west is now only a little higher than the side walls.

To lighten the edifice, or rather slightly to dispel the dim religious darkness that lay within,
the church was provided with three little windows. Perhaps the best preserved of these is in
the north wall near the east end. With rounded top it is 4 feet high, and 8 inches broad
externally, splaying out, however, to a width of 4 feet on the inside. Just opposite to this is a
similar window in the south wall, another further to the west being now built up. In these
ancient churches artificial lighting was, I believe, largely depended on.

To the west of the two windows in the south well, is the single doorway of the church, a
round headed one, 2½ feet wide externally, and splayed also to 4 feet within. Its height is
now only 4½ feet above ground level, so that now at least one must perforce bend the head
or bow the knee on entering the sacred edifice.

The interior, where of old the rude fore-fathers of the surrounding district were wont humbly
to stand, while the cure or care of their spiritual affairs was being attended to, is now, like
the surrounding graveyard itself, a place of tombs and monuments all bearing terse stories
in stone of their silent occupants.

Beside the west gable is a railed off enclosure with tablets commemorative of the old
McLartys of Keil, and built into the east wall is a tombstone, sculptured with the cusomary
skull and cross-bones of the period, in memory of "Neil McNeil of Carskiey, who departed
this lyfe on the 30th October, 1685."

The churchyard itself is enclosed with a well-constructed stone wall, built in the year 1857
by public subscription, and it too is full of tombs and headstones, both ancient and modern.

Of ancient sculptured stones, in the enclosure, two are those of ecclesiastics, one garbed in
simple alb, the other the Kilblaan Stone, with more pretentious chasuble in addition, and
two are memorials of ancient warriors.
Outside the east gable wall is the railed-in burial place of the MacDonalds of Sanda, one
tombstone bearing their coat of arms, and another adorned with the significant lyhphad or
galley, and the long sword of the period.

Towards the west is another enclosure and tombstone, in this instance, adorned will the
coat of arms of the original "Ralston of Ralston", who, about the middle of the 17th century,
found refuge and peace here, from the persecution then prevalent in his native

It is indeed declared that, although now mingled somewhat promiscuously, the Highlanders
were originally buried in the eastern, and the "incomers" or Lowlanders in the western
portion of the ground, a little stream dividing them, and that, for many years this
separation and isolation of the Gael and the Gall, in death as in life was rigorously

In 'The Argyllshire Herald" of March 14th, 1874, we find the further traditional information
that. in December, 1838, old Donald Shaw, late tenant of Keil, aged 88, said, "The burial
ground at Keil was occupied (presumably in part) by the Lowlanders of the parish of
Kilmaurs, who came from Irvine, many Covenanters fled to Scotland. A Mr Ralston
purchased from the Laird O'May of Keil, the burying-ground for the sum of 60 merks."

The ground was then the kail garden attached to the houses that were situated close to the
old road, running past the Church of Keil (at the back), but which were demolished
immediately after the plague, the inhabitants who died of it, having been buried under the

Tradition says a stranger left his bonnet at either Tonrioch or Killellan, and the plague was
spread by the person who found it. When at its height smoke issued from only three houses
(in Kintyre), from the Craigs, Cantaie (?) and Keil, the
country being like a reign of the dead.

This plague seems to have occurred shortly after the Massacre of Dunaverty in 1647.

In "Argyll's Highlands," page 270, the Ralston monument is figured, with its coat of arms, its
upper part bearing the inscription, "Erected by Gavin Ralston of that ilk, in memory of
William Ralston, his great grandfather, in the year 1799." The monumnent, as was
remarked to me by the (present "Gavin Ralston of that ilk," faces, strangely enough, the
north, and not, as was common and orthodox, particularly in these old times, the east.

Here, too, we are told that the pendicle of land added to the Cemetery of Southend
originated in the difficulty which the Lowlanders encountered in obtaining accommodation
for the disposal of their dead when they first settled in the parish.

The survivors of the original Highlanders naturally, looked with disfavour on the incomers
who had supplanted their deceased friends and relatives, and were entirely ignorant of their
beloved language, and the Lowlanders did not fail heartily to reciprocate similar unfriendly
sentiments, regarding the Highlanders indeed as semi-barbarians, and their language, as
wholly savage. Thus it was that, at first, the Lowlanders were buried in the western, and the
Highlanders in the eastern portion of Keil Cemetery, although happily all this is now a
thing of the past.

Kilcolmkill is the anglicised form of the Gaelic "Cill-Chalum-Ghille," meaning the cell or
Church of Columba of the cells or churches. Cill or Ceall, corresponding to the Latin cella,
means, strictly speaking, a monastic cell, but, coming to be associated with the
corresponding church, and the graveyard usually surrounding it, the word has come
generally to imply all three. That the church is called after or in honour of Columba, or, in

other words, dedicated to him, is beyond controversy, and this is usually taken to imply that
Kilcolmkill was founded here by Columba in person.

The late Rev. Daniel Kelly, minister of the parish, writing in "The New Statistical Account of
Scotland" published in 1845, says the tradition connected with this is, that St Golumba
landed here on his way from Ireland to the Hebrides."

The late Mr Hugh Hunter, who for long lived at Machribeg near by, and has closely studied
and written on the subject, seems to have had no doubt that Columba in 563 landed at
Dunaverty — the place, he says, is locally known as Kilport — much in the same way as
Fergus Mor McErc did some 60 years earlier, and founded the first of his churches in the
desirable spot near by. The tradition indeed is that, about two years before he finally settled
in Iona, Columba sojourned in this neighbourhood.

But, while it is unequivocally recorded, that Columba in his epoch making voyage to
Scotland, set sail from Londonderry — the Doire or oak copse where in 545 he founded the
first of his Irish Churches, the "apple of his eye" as he calls it, recorded history has hitherto
been exasperatigly silent or confusing as to the exact place of his landing. It is frequently
stated that he sailed direct from 'Derry to Iona. Thus, in Rankin's "Handbook of the Church
of Scotland" we read. "Sailing from 'Derry in a currach or wherry, with twelve disciples, all
blood relations, he landed at Iona or Hy, where he founded a monastic school, and spent
thirty-four years till his death in 597.

Nor is it to be supposed that a voyage of this length was beyond the scope of his
missionary bark, for Adamnan, his biographer, informs us that this was not a frail currach or
coracle, like that of the Aran Islander of to-day, but a stout vessel, built of a hide covered
frame-work it is true, but yet one forty feet long, with keel, mast, oars and sail, and one
capable of remaining fourteen days at sea.

And besides Dunaverty at Southend, and the little island of Oransay, to the south of
Colonsay, another strong claimant for this honour was Loch Caolisport in Knapdale, where
between Achachoish and Ellary House, opposite a little island known as "Eilean na-h-
Uamhaidh " (Island of the Cave) there is still to be seen the ruins of Cove Chapel, and just
beyond it the very suggestive "Columba's Cave. This has also been claimed as the spot
where Columba originally landed and founded his first church in 'Scotland, and he left it, it
is alleged, because he soon discovered that, in favourable conditions of weather, he could,
from the hill behind, still see the distant loom of Ireland.

Now it is very gratifying to find in Dr Frank Knight's recently published work on the early
ecclesiological history of the Scottish Churches, some very welcome arid illuminating
references to this subject. He convincingly maintains that, in the year 562, not 563 as is
generally stated, Columba sailed from Londonderry direct to "Eilean da Ghallagan" in West
Loch Tarbert, where his cousin, King Conal, was in residence. After remaining with him for
some time, he again took to sea, and passing north through the Sound of Islay, landed in
Colonsay, where he also spent some months.

Finding, however, that, in favourable circumstances, the distant loom of Ireland could still
be recognised, he once again
took to sea, and reaching Iona on 12th May, 563, and now finding that he was entirely out
of sight of his beloved Erin, he settled there and founded his famous monastery in this
island, which was already a sanctuary for saints and a cemetery for kings.

Such a view completely negatives the tradition that Columba founded the Church of
Kilcolmkill in the course of his voyage from 'Derry to lona, and, if he did found it at all, he
must, therefore, have done so at some later period, or at an earlier.

We are definitely informed by Adamnan of only one occasion in the course of his
subsequent voyages, in which Columba "was nearing the Land's End" (Mull of Kintyre), and
it is not impossible that on that or some other occasion after he went to Iona, he may have
landed in the neighbourhood of Southend, and founded this church.

On the other hand, the discoveries of Dr Knight, in the course of his exhaustive studies,
suggest an earlier visit.

When Columba embarked on his historic voyage from Derry to Eilean da Ghallagan, he did
so under sentence of exile from Ireland, because of his impetuous and impious conduct,
and it is popularly supposed that this was his first visit to Scotland, then a land of pagans.

Dr Knight shows that this is far from true, that, before this, Ninian, Ciaran and scores of
other preachers of the Christian Religion, had already crossed from Ireland, and gained
many converts here.

He points out, too, that Columba was by no means the novice of a sailor we have been led
to suppose. On the contrary, he was devoted to the sea, and well knew the exultant thrill to
be felt, when his frail bark, bending to the breeze and leaping like a thing of life frlom wave
to wave, sped on through roar of storm and turmoil of tide, till, at length, under his skilful
handling, she safely reached port.

He further suggests that, in the course of his previous adventures he had probably sailed to
Scotland, founding, in those earlier days, Churches in Corsewell, Cumbrae, Kilmacolm, and
possibly Kilcolmkill in Skipness. And if Kilcolmkill in Skipness, why not also Kilcolmkill in
Southend ?

Here indeed was practically the nearest part of Scotland to Ireland. Some sort of traffic
between the two was carried on before the historically authenticated crossing of Fergus Mor
in 498, as Dr Knight makes it out to be, and it is most natural that Columba, following in the
footsteps of Fergus, and very likely his old friend Ciaran, both of them now dead, should
have landed at the very ancient port of Dunaverty, using it (possibly as a headquarters for
expeditions further south, and so confirming the ancient tradition, so firmly established in
the neighbourhood, that, for two years before he sailed on to Iona, Columba sojourned here,
and founded near his so-called "footsteps" as, in spite of the absurdity of the idea, they will,
doubtless, continue to be called, one of his earliest cills or cells in Scotland.

I have referred to this matter at some unusual length, as it is not merely pertinent to the
subject, but also propounds the somewhat novel theory (1) that Columba in his historic
missionary journey from Londonderry in 562 (not 563) did not land at Southend, and (2)
that possibly, or even probably, he founded the Church of Kilcolmkill at Southend — the
original building — when visiting the more southern parts of Scotland at an earlier date.

The outstanding figure of the renowned "Dove of The Churches," in whose honour
Kilcolmkill is named, is too well known to require any further reference here.

[The Rev. Archibald B. Scott, D.D., Helmsdale, the learned author of "The Pictish Nation, Its
People, and Its Church," very emphatically disagrees with many of those views expressed
by Dr Frank Knight. He denies that Columba went from Londonderry to Eilean da Ghallagan
direct. At that time King Conal (Conaill MacCobgall) was only a "Toiseach" or Chief of a little
band of Dalriads, who had been driven into South Kintyre, by Brude, the Sovereign of the
federated tribes of North Britain, and was subject to him.

He was not then at Eilean da Ghallagan. Nor does he admit of a previous journey of
Columba to Alba before 563. The result of a searching scrutiny on these matters he
contributed to the Transactions of The Gaelic Society of Inverness, Vol. xxviii, 1912 — 14.
"The Gaelic Fabulists," he says, "cursed me for it, but they were not able to contradict a
single item in it." This would seem to leave the original place of Columba's landing in
Scotland, still elusive and uncertain].

Nearly a hundred years ago "in 1842 — Dean Howson said lie found lying among weeds in
the graveyard of Kilcolmkill, a fragment of a cross Henry, with a hole through the centre.
When examining the cemetery, I searched for, but failed to find this cross.
Recently, however, on hearing that a Cross existed somewhere in the neighbourhood of Old
Keil House, three members of The Kintyre Antiquarian Society, Mr Latimer McInnes, Mr Jas.
H. Mackenzie and myself — visited the spot and found what is obviously the Crown referred
to by the Dean, and which is now in the cusody of the gardener at Keil House.

According to the information given me by Mr McEachran of Kilblaan, this was originally

placed on the apex of the east
gable of Kilcolmkill Church — the re-erected, not the original gable wall. In "Fragments of
Perambulations in Kintyre in The Summer of 1833" by W. Dobie, Beith, it is indeed stated
that this east gable was crowned with a "cross fleury pierced in the centre."

It appears that when this wall, with its cross fell, many years ago, the gable was re-erected
by Mr McLaverty of Keil, but not the cross, this latter being subsequently placed at the apex
of a little gothic shaped grotto with well hinside, behind the old buildings of Keil.Falling from
this new and less honourable position, it was not replaced, being now in the gardener's

When Dean Howson visited Kilcolmkill Church in 184'2, he mentions that he saw, lying
within the church ruins, what seemed to be an "Aspersorium" — another name for the
Benitier or Holy Water Stoup. Captain White could not find this, and for long I have been
searching for it, hitherto in vain.

Quite recently, however, (December, 1934), when on the old road behind the church, a
peculiar appearance in the north wall of this, near its west end, caught my eye.

More thorough examination of this, and of the photographs subsequently secured, reveal
that this portion of the wall must, at some time have been reconstructed, probably at the
same time as the east gable wall, and that there has been built into it (1) stones of the
upper part of such another doorway as we have on the south wall, making it appear that
the church had at one time a second doorway, probably in this neighbourhood (there are
two doorways in Killean Church and three in Skipness Chapel) ; and (2) lying on its side half-
way up the wall, a rounded stone with shallow hollowed out basin on its external face. This
stone is of a softer and far more easily worked character than the other stones of which this
wall is composed, and is, doubtless, the "Aspersorium" referred to by the Dean, which lias
been built into this wall for preservation.

I have been for long aware of a gap in the interior of the south wall, a few yards from the
doorway, and now only a little above ground level. The remnant of stone here is of exactly
the same soft brittle nature as this "Aspersorium," and points convincingly to the
conclusion, that it must have been hacked out of its original position here as in Skipness
Chapel by post Reformation iconoclastic zeal, and at a later date built into this re-
constructed wall for preservation. I am aware of no other reference to this subject.

While the present highway lies to the seaward side of the old graveyard, the old road, as
depicted in Captain Whitens
Sketches, ran alongside its eastern and northern walls, and beyond the cemetery, and the
little knoll lying to the west,
descended by a steep declivity, and passed close to the large cave at the Point of Keil.

At the side of this old road, beyond the site of the church, is the "Priest's or Holy Well," with
its little cross, 8 inches high, incised on the rock behind, a well from which would be
derived, no doubt, the water for baptismal and other sacred purposes, and which is
generally to be met with in the vicinity of such a cell or sanctuary.

Nor would any account of Kilcolmkill be complete without some reference to the little
eminence to the west of the cemetery, and which Captain White in his "Sketches" calls
"Guala na Popuill " — the shoulder of the congregation, although as pointed out by the Rev.
Mr MacVicar, this more accurately applies to the slope of the hill on its landward side.

Here are the remains of the foundations of a small oblong building (20 feel, by 9 foot), the
cell or retreat, probably of some monk or saint, in days gone by, and, it might be even, of
Columba himself.

On a flat surface of rock near are the impressions of two right feet, commonly referred to as
"Columba's Footsteps," but erroneouly so.

The perfect one next the sea, it was argued before The Kintyre Antiquarian Society some
time ago, is most probably the mark of Fergus Mor McErc, the first King of Scottish Dalriada,
"the first chief's foot," when, on crossing over from Ireland, he, in accordance with a well-
known and long established practice, took possession of the district, by placing his right
foot in this little excavation, which had been prepared for it, the second being probably a
well-moaning but quite spurious edition of later date.

[At Drumlemble, on 3rd September, 1936, Mr David McArthur informed Mr Latimer Mclnnes
and myself that he was a grandson of Daniel Mcllrevie, Stone Mason, residing at Southend,
and that he (Mcllrevie) was the man who carved out the second footprint — that away from
the sea — at Kilcolmkill 79 years age — in 1856. Another grandson of Mcllrevie, he said,
distinctly remembered sitting alongside his grandfather, and seeing him do this when he
himself was a small boy 5 years old. His name was Alexander McKinnon, and this story is
otherwise corroborated].

Further inland, just at the edge of the old road, is an oblong excavation, 13 inches by 7
inches, which Mr Hunter quite erroneously supposed to be an ancient "holy water stoup,"
but which is indubitably the socket of an ancient cross, which at one time stood here, and
which the late Rev. Daniel Kelly, the incumbent of the parish, in "The Statistical Account
of Scotland," 1845, definitely declares (although giving no authority for the assertion) "has
been removed from its proper place and now lies neglected at Inveraray.

Although then lying neglected in the former old Burgh of Inveraray, it now forms the well
looked after market cross of the modern town, bearing on its northern edge, the names of
the three honourable "MacEuGylliChomghnans" (or McCowans) whom it commemorates.

As to the age of the church of Kilcolmkill, it is probably not earlier than the thirteenth
century. There is a record of it in 1326, before which it was granted to the Canons of
Whithorn, by Patrick MacShillingis and Finlach his wife. This grant was confirmed by Robert
the Bruce in 1326, and by James II in 1451.

Shortly after the union of the parishes of Kilcolmkill and Kilblaan in 1017, in the year 1621,
a Commission was empowered to erect a new church for the united parishes, but this old
church of Kilcolmkill was, according to the Presbytery Records, in use for Divine Service, for
many years after that date.


According to "The Statistical Account of 1845," no vestige remains of the (ancient) parish
church of St. Blaan's. It stood on the left or eastern bank of the Coniglen River, about the
middle of the bend opposite the present manse, on the top of an alluvial bank which has
been washed away by the encroachment of the river, much in the same manner as this
river has in more recent years eroded a valuable piece of land, also on its left bank,
ocposite Kilervan Cottage, higher up stream. The extensive cemetery once attached to it
has suffered the same fate, the bones of those interred having for long lain exposed to the
public view. So too have the tombstones and monuments been swept away, one of the
most important of them however — that of an ecclesiastic clothed in alb and chasubel —
having been removed to Kilcolmkill, where it still lies.

St. Blaan or Blane (b. 590) to whom the church was dedicated, is reputed to have been a
grandson of King Aiaan of Dalriada, his name being also associated with the venerable
Cathedral of Dunblane in Perthshire, and with Kilblain in Greenock.

The earliest record of Kilblaan's existence is in 1527, when its Rector, Sir Morice Makneile
died, and was succeeded by Master James Haswell. In 1538, Sir Robert Montgomery
resigned this charge, and Sir .James Mc.Gaughane succeeded him. The names of Makneile,
McGaughane (a form of McEachan or McEachran) and Montgomery, are, with MacKay,
MacShenoch and O'May, among the most ancient of the names to be found in the district,
and, while the ancient McNeils of Carskiey are no longer there, many representatives of the
old family of McEachran, who, according to "The Craignish Manuscript" originally came from
there to Killellan, are still found in the neighbourhood, and one family still
occupies, as it has done for generations, the farm of Kilblaan, upon or beside whoso ground,
the former church of Kilblaan once stood. The present church of Kilblaan (St. Blaan's) is no
older than 1774.


l St. Ninian's Chapel, Sanda

The Island of Sanda, which is about one mile long and half a mile broad, lies a mile and
three-quarters off the mainland of South Kintyre, and being possessed of a convenient
harbour, was, in days of old, a place of no little importance, and a frequent rendezvous for
saints, warriors and smugglers.

It too had its old litte chapel and burial ground, now neatly walled in, although Muir, in his
"Ecclesiological Notes"
described it as open and otherwise shamefully neglected. The ruins of the chapel, which is
situated not far from the landing-place, measure internally about 30 feet by 20 feet. The
walls are much demolished, their thickness being about 2½ feet. The west gable is wanting.

The door, which is found in the north wall near its west end, is only 5 feet above present
ground level, and is a plain rectangular one, its bolt holes being still intact. There are also
the remains of three rectangular little windows, one in the east gable wall, and one in each
side wall near it. Of the side windows, that in the south wall is the better preserved and the
most interesting, for in one corner of its sill, internally, was placed, at the time of Captain
White's visit, a shallow stone basin, 15 inches in diameter, probably the font or "holy water
stoup", which, very likely was not in its original position, for that was usually near the door.
It is not there now, nor could I find it anywhere about, but, lying a little to the east of this
window sill, the remnant of a "'Piscina," into which the water which had been used for
washing the sacred vessels, etc., was emptied, is still in situ. The bowl shaped projection,
which has been cut out of one of the blocks, which form the facing of the window, is fiat on
the top, and the drain hole, which is quite distinct, is carried into the wall. It is the only
piscina now to be found in the ancient churches of Kintyre, which still remains in its original

At the base of the east gable wall internally, is a rudely built altar of stone, about four foot
long and two feet high, and it soems very strange that, so far as I am aware, no mention is
made of it by any of the writers who have hitherto described this chapel. It too is the only
surviving altar found in the old churches of Kintyre.

Within the chapel also, just underneath the piscina, lies a recumbent flat tombstone, in
memory of one of the old Macdonalds of Sanda. Decorated with the characteristic lymphad
or galley, under a lion rampant, with sword alongside, it bore the date 1682, and the name
Archibald Macdonald, and, according to Dean Howson, it also commemorated "Cirstin
Stewart, his wife, who died in 1688," but all this is now undecipherable As has been pointed
out by Sheriff Macmaster Campbell, this is not the tomb of the infant Macdonald, who
escaped with his nurse at the seige of Dunaverty, as Captain White supposed. His name
was Ranald Macdonald, a grandson of this Archibald, who also was married to a Stewart
lady, but one whose name was Anne, a lady of the Bute family, and both of them, according
to the historians of the Clan Donald, lie buried in the Macdonald Enclosure, outside the east
gable wall of the Church of Kilcolmkill, the lady surviving till 1732.

The Archibald buried in Sanda, was Archibald Mor Macdonald, one of the Dunaverty garrison
massacred in 1647, who is, the Sheriff maintains, erroneously stated to be buried with his
son Archibald Og and others, in the well known enclosure at Machribeg, but whose body
was apparently conveyed to his island chapel of Sanda, and buried there by some of his
clansmen or friends.

Sanda - St. Ninian's Cross

In the surrounding graveyard the most striking objects are two remarkable antique crosses,
both about seven feet high, and both suffering severely from long exposure to the
elements. The less ornate slab, a rude lumpish pillar roughly shaped into the figure of a
cross, is of an antiquity far exceeding that of the adjacent chapel, synchronising, it is
believed, with a period when the ancient religieux was wont to dwell in his primitive cell or
oratory of wattles.

Near the upper part of the second monument, are five cup shaped hollows, arranged like a
St Andrew's Cross, below which, the shaft of a cross, narrowed in its lower two-thirds, runs
down to the base. the sketch of it in Captain White's Treatise effectively displays its details.

The mysterious tomb of Saint Senchan and his fourteen sons — White remarks that "If a
Saint, he was no celibate," but Frank Knight thinks that by "sons" scarcely anything else
than "disciples" can be intended — is said to have been placed at the side of the chapel.
Ten feet square, it was surrounded by a low stone wall, within which were seven polished
stones covering the sacred remains, with an obelisk higher than a man's stature in the
middle, and none entered it — man or beast — who was not dead at the end of a year. An
alder tree — a reputed charm to keep away evil spirits — once, it is said, overhung the spot,
but nothing of all this is now to be seen unless, indeed, a little angular ridge, a foot or so
above ground level, which lies to the north of the chapel, be one of the angles of this low
walled enclosure.

[According to the manuscripts collected by Lord Archibald Campbell, and most courteously
placed at my disposal for reference by His Grace the Duke of Argyll, his son, there formerly
existed in this graveyard an old flagstone which was treated with great respect. It displayed
the rough outlines of an old warrior, with defaced armorial bearings, and was believed to
cover the remains of an ancient Sea-King or Scandinavian Chief. In ancient times when a
vessel was in danger near, the people used to come and wash this stone, at the same time
repeating, what was considered essential to success, the rhyme — "Champion famed for
warlike toil, Art thou silent mighty ? I come not with unhallowed dread, To wake the
slumbers of the dead. Waken now, or sleep for ever, For thus the sea Shall smooth its
ruffled crest for thee, And, while afar its billows foam, Subside to peace near Halco's tomb."

St. Ninian's Chapel had also its associated "Holy Well," one indeed credited with marvellous
healing powers, and it too lies beautifully situated near the end of the fertile sheltered
valley, which runs through the centre of the little island, and beside the quiet waters of the
one tiny streamlet, which gently flows through this lovely vale. St. Ninian's Chapel is
considered to be of earlier date than the parochial churches of Kilcolmkill and Kilblaan.

The great simplicity of its architecture and the presence of the piscina, point, in the general
opinion of competent authorities, most probably to 13th century construction.

Although Adamnan, the biographer of St. Columba, appears to have been associated with
Sanda Chapel — Fordun refers to it as "cella Sancti Adamnani," and says here was a
sanctuary for transgressors - and Dean Howson calls it "Kilmoshenachan," which is the
name of the farm on the mainland immediately opposite and "that most holy man
Shenchan" seems to have been buried near it; yet the chief of the apparently threefold
dedications is, as its usual name applies, to the still more venerable St Ninian, the
renowned apostle of the Strathclyde Britons, the 14th centenary of whose death was
recently commemorated.

Before Columba made his appearance in Scotland, he founded the great religious house of
Candida Casa in Wigtownshire, a house which came to have extensive possessions in
Southern Kintyre, inclusive of this Island of Sanda.

The history of this subject has been exhaustively treated of by Sheriff Macmaster Campbell,
in his erudite lecture on "The Island and House of Sanda," which he delivered to The Kintyre
Antiquarian Society in the year 1924.

2 The Nameless Chapel, Mull Road

Clone alongside tlie main road, about four miles from the Mull of Kintyre, White says, "are
the remains of a small chapel, 15 feet by 10, the foundations of its walls only visible, and of
an oblong burial ground, some 70 feet in length near by. These remains lie just beyond
Feorlan, the last of the farmhouses on this road, and there appears to be no record even of
the chapel's name. Near by is an old well — a familiar ecclesiological adjunct — presumably
the chapel well, which was usually regarded as evidence of no inconsiderable antiquity.

3 Lag-na-Cloiche or Katti-Kill

Across the Breakerie Water, opposite the farmhouse of Ormsary, well up the hillside, is the
track of a building 27 feet long and 20 broad, with the remains of a graveyard, in which a
tombstone or two are still visible. This is known as "Lag-na-Cloiche" — the hollow of the
gravestones - although on an ancient map (the Amsterdam map) it is marked "Katti-Kill."
On a lower level, and a little further up the glen, is its associated "Holy Well." Not far away
are the farms of High and Low Cattadale, which are evidently named after it. It is
apparently a dedicated to St. Cathan, who was an uncle of St Blaan, and a contemporary of
St Columba, Cathan being supposed to have come from Ireland with St Ciaran. Nothing
further is known of this chapel.
4 Caibel Carrine

Crossing the Breakerie Water, a little higher up-stream, opposite the farmhouse of
Culinlongart, where it is joined by the Glenadale Water, and ascending the latter for about a
mile — although on a warm summer day the roughness and arduousness of the going
makes it appear much longer — we come to a clearing of calm seclusion, under the shelter
of a. little hill, close to the side of a little purling brook, in well wooded surroundings, far,
indeed, from the madding crowd.

Here, but a few shapeless heaps of stones now mark the site of "Caibel Carrine" and its
little graveyard, while its associated " Holy Well" which Captain White searched for in vain,
is situated on the side of the hill above, the name of the chapel reppears in those of the
neighbouring farms of North and South Carrine.

[This well was known as "St. Catherine's Well," and was believed to have valuable curative
or medicinal powers. After drinking the water it was customary for the person using it to tie
a rag with a piece of money in it to one of the branches of the surrounding trees. Tradition
maintains that few returned from participating in the ordeal without experiencing relief, and
it was also averred that, if any one stole the piece of money left on the tree, the malady of
the person who left it would at once be transferred to the thief.

It is related that a man called Hogarth, residing at Carskiey, cut down a bush overhanging
the well, to provide wood for the erection of new houses, it being impressively added, that
he died before the year was out. (From Lord Archibald Campbell's manuscripts) ].

Practically all authorities seem to accept the view that this chapel is dedicated to or named
after a female saint, St Catherine, who lived about the beginning of the 4th century. She
was a virgin of royal descent, who publicly confessed the Christian religion at a pagan feast
appointed by the Emperor Maximinius in Alexandria. Following upon this, no less than fifty
heathen philosophers were sent by the Emperor to her prison to re-convert her to her old
religion, but instead they themselves wore converted to Christianity by her winning
eloquence. Exasperated by this unexpected result, she was in revenge bound to a wheel
armed with spikes in such a manner that every turn of the wheel would cause the spikes to
pierce her body. The cords, however, miraculously broke, and she was otherwise put to
death at Alexandria in 307 A.D. Her name has become familiar by the "Catherine Wheel" of
pyrotechnic displays named after this form of torture.

Now, what connection could such a female saint, a foreign one martyred in 307 A.D., long
before the days of St Columba or even Ninian, have with Glenbreakerie or Kintyre. Does it
not seem more probable that the little chapel would have been named after some more
familiar and local religieux, and do we not find in the "Place Names of Argyll," by Dr
Cameron Gillies, page 59, a much more feasible suggestion, when he writes, "Carrine with
Caibel Carrine seems to refer to St Ciyran" ? One of the ways in which Kilkerran is spelt in
"Origines Parochiales" by Cosmo Innes is "Kilcharrane," the "charrane" sounding almost the
same as "Carrine."

Ciaran himself will more appropriately be referred to when dealing with Kilkerran in the
parish of Campbeltown.

5 St Coivin's Chapel, Macharioch

In an elevated portion of a field called the "Kit" field which lies a little to the north-west of
the farmhouse of Macharioch, are the foundations of another chapel, which measures about
28 feet long and 12 broad, and whose walls are about 2¾ feet in thickness. These in places
still stand to the height of a few feet, but most of the stones seen lie scattered about the
ground. It is said, indeed, that when the estate of Macharioch, in which this chapel is
situated, was sold by the late Mr McDonald of Ballyshear — a native of North Uist who
resided at Macharioch House, originally the residence of the McDonalds of Sanda — many
of the stones of this chapel were taken away as was quite customary, and used to repair
the buildings of Macharioch House.

[In the graveyard surrounding the chapel, Mr McMillan buried his eldest son, named
Reginald, who died at Sanda House (now Macharioch House) which he called after his
native place "Ballysheare". (From Lord Archibald Campbell's manuscripts) ].

On one of his visits to St. Coivin's, Captain White says he found, just outside the building "a
stone block about 12 inches deep with a small circular basin scooped out of it, which was
probably the holy water stoup of the chapel."
On visiting the site not long since this was looked for, and after diligent search was at
length discovered ignominiously
but usefully filling up a gap in a turf dyks which lay to the east of the chapel enclosure. To
prevent it being irretrievably lost like so many valuable relics, this has been rescued and
placed in our local museum.
Coivin, Kevin, or Coemgen is the same saint to whom the old parish of Kilkivan was
dedicated. An Irish cleric, he was the contemporary of Columba and was distinguished for
the beauty of his person, and for his remarkab!e longevity, attaining to an age of 120 years.

6 Kilirvan or Kilcalmanell

About a mile above Kilblaan, a tributary stream, the Kerran Water joins the Coniglen. In this
glen of Kerran were too old burial grounds, probably with little chapels attached.

The nearer is situated on the edge of a steep bank, near the fork of the stream. After it the
two neighbouring farms have been called North and South Kilervan, although in Blaeu's
map the name is given as Kilcalmonell.

7 Kilchattan

The more distant is a mile higher up the vale, near the old farm ruins and hill also called,
like it, Kilchattan. The saint to whom the former is dedicated is a matter of some
uncertainty, but there is no difficulty in associating the latter with St Cathan, the uncle of
St. Blaan, already referred to.

8 Caibel Innean Coig Cailleach

Under the initials N.M.K.R. in 'The Campbeltown Courier' of 12th September, 1885, an old
graveyard and chapel of this name (wrongly spelt, however), which lies a few miles to the
north of The Mull of Kintyre, is described.

Forty graves, he said, could be seen in the graveyard, and the suggestion is made that the
"coig cailleach" — five old women or nuns — were nuns who had been expelled from Caibel
Carrine, in Glenadale, after The Reformation, and took refuge here.

Such other names as Kilmoshenachan and Kildavie, suggest that still other dedications also
existed at some time in the parish of Southend, of which nothing is now known. Of the
name Kilbride, however, Mr McEachran of Kilblaan gives the following very curious history.

The name, although very suggestive of a church name is quite a modern one, dating from
about 1840. The old name of this farm on the Macharioch Road was "Aucharainne" —
bracken field.

The local farmers were in the habit of carting away limestone from a quarry near, and the
Laird Ballyshear - in order to put a stop to this or discourage it - tried to give the place a
saintly character, and changed its name to Kilbride. There is thus no church or graveyard
about Kilbride.

[It is, however, declared that "Old John McKay said there was a chapel near this place
(Kilmashenachan) called Gortan Chille Breide (Kilbride) in which two young children of
Ronald McMillan, Knockmoran, who went to America at the end of last century (the 19th)
were buried. A large slice of the burying-ground has been demolished by the quarries. The
late Dr McMillan of Ballysheare put a stop to the people working in the quarries when he
learned they were destroying the keil. A good many of the bones fell 'down into the quarries
from the soil above. The ruins of the church were 'dug up and ploughed over 50 years ago
(1832). Another version obviously of the same story. (From Lord Archibald Campbell's
manuscripts) ].

The other church in the parish of Southend, now called 'St Columba's, is the successor of an
older one erected in 1798, to accommodate the Lowlanders, who came into the district
about 1798, and did not understand Gaelic, the language then used in the parish church.


In the year 1617 a Parliamentary Commission for the plantation of kirks, united the ancient
parishes of "Kilcharrane, Kilmichael and Kilchousland," and in 1621 permission to erect a
new church for these united parishes was granted, although they, situated at The New
Quay Head, does not appear to have been opened till about 1638.

At a subsequent date — 1772, not as is frequently stated 1671 - Kilkivan old parish was
also transferred to Campbeltown.

The parish at first was not known as Campbeltown, but was called by its Gaelic equivalent
— Ceannloch or Lochead
— a contraction of "Ceann Loch Ghille Chiarain," the Head of The Loch of Kilkerran. The
name of Campbeltown, in honour of the Argyll family was, it is generally supposed,
assumed about 1680, although the name has been found, it seems, in an ancient document
dated 1609.

This was a Charter, dated 31st August, 1609, of "Eskamull Beg and Wagill" (Askomil Beag
and Uigle) granted by Archibald, Earl of Argyll, to John Boyll, Yr. of "Dallochintoune."

Mr Duncan Colville discovered this in an old book in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh,
supposed to have been written between 1688 and 1700, entitled "A Register of the
Production of Title Deeds of Numerous Lands in Argyll."

The rent was to be delivered "at the Castle or Fortalice of Keanloch Kilkerran to be built
beside the toune of Campbeltoune."

This is consistent with the fact that in the year 1607, The Earl of Argyll obtained a Feu
Charter of the lands of North and South Kintyre, therein specified, said previously to have
belonged to Angus McKonnel of Dunyveg (Highland Papers, Vol. III. 66, etc.).

The oldest Record of The Presbytery of Kintyre commences on 16th August, 1655, and from
that date until 6th March, 1660, the united parish is referred to in The Presbytery Records
as the Parish of Lochead.


The old Parish Church of Kilkerran — in the original Latin "Ecclesia Sancti Querani" — was
situated in the oldest portion of the cemetery of Kilkerran, although one has heard its very
existence denied or questioned. It is true that only a very small remnant of it is now visible
— the thick walled north-east angle only slightly above ground level. But the Sexton has, he
says, been able to follow this wall for some distance to the west, as also the corresponding
south wall, although he is unable to say how far these walls extended. Captain White gives
the dimensions as under 60 feet in length and 20 feet in breadth. The existing walls are 2½
feet thick.

This is all that can now be said about the structure of the ancient mediaeval church of
Kilkerran, which probably occupied the sites of other earlier ones, and even. it may be, of
the original primitive church or cill of wattles, raised by the very hands, or under the
immediate supervision, of the venerable Patron Saint of Kintyre, after whom Kilkeiran is
named, the renowned Ciaran of Clanmacnois.

Selected with the acumen characteristic of those early Celtic Saints, the site of Kilkerran
also is one of out standing beauty. Nestling at the lower end of the long valley that extends
from Tomaig to the sea, it lies under the guardian shelter of Bengullion, near the quiet
waters, ere they were impounded for a storage reservoir, of probably the most considerable
stream that originally ran into Campbeltown Loch — Kilkerran Burn - and in view of the
glorious expanse of Kilbrannan Sound, and beyond it, the great peaks of Arran piercing the
distant sky.

The presence, 5 feet underground, of great numbers of shells of whelks, oysters, and other
shellfish, the bones of animals, pieces of deer horn — the evidences of a "Kitchen Midden,"
their old refuse dump, indicate that, near. the church there was once a little hamlet, the
whole constituting the "Clachan" or "Kirktown" of Kilkerran, possibly one of the earliest
inhabited sites round the shores of our Loch.

The venerability and importance of this is supported by its close proximity to the old Castle
of Kilkerran, which was "restored" by King James IV, before 1498, when he resided in it for a
time, as well as by its nearness to the historic little hill of Knockbay, on whose flat summit
Royal Commissions, appointed by James VI, met in 1596 and 1605, when all occupiers of
lands in North and South Kintyre, had to appear and have their rights and titles scrutinised
and adjusted, their recorded names — McKay, McNeill, McEachran, McShannon, O'May, etc.,
being those of the ancient inhabitants of Kintyre, before the influx of the Lowland settlers,
who crossed from Ayr and Renfrew, during the next hundred years.

Of recorded references, possibly the earliest is the suggestive statement, that, when Aidan,
the first independent King of Scottish Dalriada, died in the year 605, he was, as he himself
had requested, according to the historian Fordun, buried in Kilkerran, where none of his
ancestors were buried before.

Penetrating through the murky gloom which, for five-and-a-half centuries, followed the
Norse invasion of the Western Isles of Scotland, and during which Iona was repeatedly
ravaged, its monks slain, and its records destroyed, we have the definitely recorded
statement that "the oratory of St Kiaran (the church of Kilkerran) was plundered by the
Galls (Norsemen) in 985.

And it is not till we come to the Chartulary of Paisley Abbey, founded about 1200, that we
find further meagre details of the early church history of Kilkerran, a history that concerns
mainly (1) the gifting of the church, and its possessions to the Monks of Paisley, by the
successive Lords of The Isles, in order that the saintly monks might pray for the salvation of
their sin-stained souls, and those of their friends; and (2) records of the disputes between
the clergy and the monks, as to the destination of these emoluments.

From these records we learn that Gilbert was parson of Kilkerran in 1250, and that in 1491,
Robert, Bishop of Argyll, because of his retaining to himself the payment due to Paisley
Abbey, and his refusal to give an account of them to his superiors, was, for this
contumacious conduct, publicly excommunicated in the Cathedral Church of Glasgow, that,
in 1561, the Abbot of Iona got two-thirds and the Bishop of Argyll one-third of the Kilkerran
emoluments, and that, in 1607, the whole of the teinds of the church passed into the
possession of the latter — all matters which have been fully dealt with by Sheriff Macmaster
Campbell, in his very informative paper on this church of Kilkerran.

Surrounding the remains of the ancient church, is the oldest portion of Kilkerran Cemetery,
and although Kilkerran was something in the nature of a "mother church" to the
neighbouring ones, the number of ancient sculptured stones are few.

There are, however, two mediaeval slabs adorned with swords, the fragments of two very
rare and beautiful ancient crosses—the "Calein McEachern Cross" and the "Cristin's Cross,"
as well as a ruder and cruder form of cross, which, being of very early design (9th century)
affords further evidence of the great antiquity of this "Ecclesia Sancti Querani."

[Cristin's Cross is being reconstructed by The Kintyre Antiquarian Society, under the care of
The Scottish Board of Works, and it and the small cruder form of cross will shortly, it is
hoped, be erected in an easily accessible position within the Cemetery of Kilkerran. Calein
McEachern's Cross, the Rev. Angus Mac Vicar of Southend, believes, originally stood outside
the ancient Church of Killellan, the home of the McEacherns, Crossleggie, which lies just
below it being named after it meaning as it does, the "Cross of Prostration" (Crois, a cross,
and sleuchdadh, prostration). He pointed out to me recently (October, 1935) what he thinks
is its socket, lying at the door of the blacksmith's house at Machrimore].

Just outside this oldest portion of the Cemetery, lies an ancient moss covered large square
stone with deep oblong socket, familiarly known as "the ratty stone," it being of no small
reputation in certain credulous circles as a potent agency in the cure or removal of rats or
warts, after these 1 ave been rubbed on the stone.

This is in reality the socket of an old cross which once stood here, possibly one of the two I
have mentioned, but more likely I think of The Campbeltown Cross.

While no one is exititled to speak degmatically on a matter which must over remain one of
considerable uncertainty, the probabilities in my judgment are : —

1 - That the Campbeltown Cross was constructed in Islay, at or near Kilchoman, where its
twin brother still stands complete, not mutilated by Reformation iconoclasts, as The
Campbeltown Cross has been.

2 - That this was done by instruction of Andrew McEachern, Rector of Kilchoman there,
who had it conveyed across and erected just outside the old burial ground of Kilkerran, in
honour of, or for the benefit of, himself and his father Ivar or Edward McEachern, Rector of
Kilkerran, the mysterious and baffling "Kilrecan" instead of "Kilkerran," being an error on the
part of the sculptor.

3 - And that after The Reformation and its mutilation, this cross was removed from its
original site, where it served the purpose of a "prostration cross," to its present position,
where it forms the beautiful "market cross" with which we are so familiar.

As has been indicated in very full detail by 'Sheriff Macmaster Campbell, Kilkerran Church is
dedicated to, and was very likely founded by, that very eminent Saint Ciaran, or in Latin
Queranus, who is adjudged the patron saint of Kintyre, Born about 515 or 510, he could
not possibly have come across with King Fergus in 503 - 506, or, as Dr Frank Knight
maintains, 498, and he died of plague at Clanmacnois in 548, aged 34 years.

His missionary zeal is evidenced by his designation of "Queranus Coloniensis," although, as

Captain White remarks, it
is tantalising that not one word should have been said by any of the Irish chroniclers as to
his migration into Kintyre. The one scrap of evidence believed to refer to his residence here
— either the church of Kilkerran or his lonely cave or cell at Cove a'Ghiarain - is a very
ancient missal discovered during the 18th century in Drummond Castle, Perthshire, in which
is a prayer in Irish Gaelic, which includes the words (translated) "long have thy visits been
denied to my cell."

The cave traditionally haunted by his name, and associated with his presence, was explored
under the superintendence
of Dr Norman Morrison, and yielded interesting and valuable discoveries, which were the
subject of a very infoimative lecture to The Antiquarian Society by him some years ago.
Cove a'Chiarain indeed, with its Holy Well, inscribed stone, incised cross, and firmly
engrained traditions of the venerable Saint, is too well known to require further reference

The ancient Church of Kilkerran was succeeded by the old Gaelic Parish Church at The New
Quay Head, which appears to have been erected in 1638, being replaced after lying for
many years in ruins, by the present Highland Parish Church, in the year 1808.

According to The Kintyre Historian, Peter Macintosh, this was first used at the induction of
the Rev. Norman MacLeod, recommended as his successor, by the Rev. John Smith, D.D.,
when on his death-bed the year before.

Because the Lowland settlers from Ayrshire and Renfrewshire, who came over in the latter
half of the 17th century, could not understand Gaelic, then the only language used in the
old Gaelic Church, they, in the year 1655, employed Mr Edward Keith to "preach to them in
the Old Thatched House," and because this had become too small and ruinous, a new
church was erected in 1706, "on the ground whereon the Thatched Church stood." This
extract from "The Campbeltown Case — Galbraith and Others Against Smith," appears to
make it quite conclusive that the old Thatched House stood in Kirk Street where the present
Kirk Street Hall, restored in l904, after it had lain for many years in ruin, now stands, and
not, as has been at times supposed, at The New Quay Head, where the old Gaelic Church
and a considerable graveyard was formerly situated.

The subsequent history of this Kirk Street Church has been fully treated of by the late
Colonel Charles Mactaggart, in his lecture to the Society on "The Lowland Church of
Campbeltown," one of a very interesting series which he contributed.


About two miles from Campbeltown on the Tarbert Road, is the farm of Kilmichael, and on
the side of the farmhouse next the town is the old graveyard of Kilmichael, now planted
with trees, which also appear on the opposite side of the roadway; and whose sombre area
is, in early spring, converted into a bright blaze of golden yellow, by the profusion of
daffodils then in bloom. Near its western end are the remains of the walls of a rectangular
building, the old parish church of Kihrichael.

In "The Argyllshire Herald," of 14th March, 1874. a copy of which I have had the opportunity
of perusing through the
courteyy of Mr Duncan Colville, it is related how old D. McMillan, tenant there in 1838,
recollected when the walls of this old church were standing.

In his younger days, presumably, he was in the habit of climbing the walls to "harrie"
sparrow's nests, and he recollected seeing one of the largest funerals ever seen in the
neighbourhood, going into this kirkyard. In 1793 he was able to read the inscription on a
stone which covered the remains of "John McNab, the Laird of Moy." Enclosed within a
wall, it was known as "The Tomb."

The stones of the old church were used by Sheriff Campbell (of that day) in building the
farm houses. A small window, round at the top, which was taken from the church, was
placed in the house of one of the tenants, and was subsequently given to an inhabitant of
the Millknowe named Innes (Duncan Mchmes) who was a mason, and built it into the back
of his house, which fronted the road. The house is still occupied by some of his
descendants, and the window is almost certainly the central one of three which face the
The present public road passes through the graveyard, the old road was placed a
considerable distance behind the houses, taking off by High Drumore, and going close to
the houses at the Craigs.

In the graveyard can still be recognised two large flat tombstones with some form of
armorial bearings, as well as an ancient sculptured stone decorated with the two-handed

.Recently too, a well preserved fragment of another sculptured stone was found outside the
graveyard; but next to it. It is part of a flat stone slab, undecorated on one side, but
showing a portion of a two handed sword on the other, flanked with interlaced foliage or
plant design work on one side, and basket or intertwining snake work of narrower breadth
on the other. The fragment, which is 32 inches in length, and about half that in breadth, is
now housed in the local Museum. It was doubtless a mark of respect and honour placed
over the grave of some valiant knight more than 500 years ago.

Kilmichael is named after an Abbot of Scotland, named Michael, and the ruin was the
former church of the ancient parish of Kilmichael, which was amalgamated with Kilkerran
and Kilchousland in 1617.

The parish embraced the most of the fertile laggan of Kintyre, and its valuable proprietory
rights were, along with those of Kilchousland, given in 1503 by King James IV to the Bishop
of Argyll, in order to add to his apparently somewhat meagre emoluments.

Kilchousland - Window showing St. Ninian's Point


The third of the old parish churches which were in 1617 united to form the parish of
Ceannloch or Campbeltown, was Kilchousland. Two miles from Campbeltown, on the
Carradale Road, this also is beautifully situated on the edge of a steep cliff, overhanging the
seashore. To the left are the great hills of Arran, and, beyond them to the south, the hazy
coasts of Ayrshire, with the stack shaped bluff of Ailsa lying isolated in the lower reaches of
The Firth of Clyde, and sweeping further round, the brown back of Davaar, looking like a
great whale asleep.

Close by on the south is the point of St. Ninian, named after that venerable saint, while
north lies the little "Isle of Miller." so called after a fugitive family of Smiths who, about 1688

found refuge here from the Ayrshire persecutions and built for their business, a little mill,
near the ancient MacDonald Castle of Smerby, whose ruins lie quite near.

The remains of the church, which was some 60 feet by 20, comprise the west gable, which
is almost complete, and most of the side walls. As in the case of Kilkivan, the east gable has
now entirely disappeared.

In the south wall towards the west is the door, which, square headed, is 7 feet high and 3
broad externally, while, further to the south are the only remaining windows of the building,
two in number, and both small narrow and square headed. A similar window in the west
gable wall has been built up. In the north wall, which has no windows, there is a break in
the masonry, similar to that already described at Kilcolmkill, and in a similar situation,
indeed the join can be
recognised in the south wall also.

The lower portion of a beautiful stone cross, with knight on horseback on one side, and
lymphad or galley on the otner, formerly lay within the church ruins, but has lately been
removed to the Campbeltown Museum for preservation.

Kilchousland - Interior - West Wall

Built into the interior of the west gable wall of the church, are two handsome white marble
monuments, in memory of the Rev. John Smith, D.D. and his son, who were both ministers
of the Highland Parish Church, Campbeltown, monuments which were placed there at his
own expense, Mr Duncan Colville informs me, by the late Mr Duncan MacCallum.

In Dobie's "Perambulations of Kintyre in 1833," it is stated that, to the west of the sexton's
hut at Kilchousland, there stood a roofless mean-looking building, one-and-a-half stories in
height. This was the manse of the Rev. John Smith, who occupied it for long before he built
that other manse, in which he spent the last few years of his life, and in which he died and
which seems to have been situated about a mile beyond Kilchousland on the Carradale
Road, where its ruins (Druim a'chrotan) can now also be seen.

But the most curious and interesting stone in this churchyard, described by Captain White,
and also seen by Peter Mcintosh, the author of a "History of Kintyre." cannot now be found.
This was "a small circular stone like a barrow wheel or grinding-stone. with a round hole in
the centre, big enough to pass the hand through," and according to tradition, it served the
purpose of a nuptial stone. If any pair desiring to get married, succeded in reaching the
churchyard and clasping hands through this stone, for better or for worse, their marriage
was regarded as accomplished.
A similar stone is still to be seen at Kilmory Knap, and the custom was also familiar in
Orkney, being referred there as of Norse origin, and known as "the promise of Odin."

The name of Kilchousland, sometimes called Kilquhislane, has been somewhat of an enigma
to etymologists, some of
whom in their desperation have ascribed it to a mythic Spanish Princess, who died in the
neighbourhood and was buried here, but its ancient designation of "Ecclesia Sancti
Constantini," found as early as 1508 in The Register of The Great Seal, clearly shows that
the church was, in reality dedicated to St. Constantine.

This Constantine was, it appears, a Cornish Prince or King, who, in 587 or 588 was
converted to Christianity, and relinquishing his sovereignty, and becoming a monk, passed
over to Scotland, and founded the church and monastery of Govan, over which he presided
as Abbot. In later life he took to itinerant preaching throughout the country, and when he
had come to the "Island of Kintyre," he was slain by certain wicked men there, who landed
beneath the church and raided the settlement, and so he was "eikit to the number of
martyrs." He was buried in Govan, the monastery which he founded, and this church in the
"Island of Kintyre," in which he was slain, was dedicated to his memory.

In the year 1499 we find what appears to be the earliest record of Kilchousland. In that year
King James IV. presented Master Adam Colquhoun to the parsonage of "Glenquhisslan," as it
is here called, then vacant by the death of Alexander McRannall Mor McDonal. As already
mentioned Kilchousland and Kilmichael were in 1508 handed over by the King to swell the
revenues of the needy Bishop of Argyll.

The glebe is now in the possession of The Highland Parish Church of Campbeltown, and the
churchyard is still occasionally used for burial.

Kilkivan is the fourth and last of the four old parish churches, by whose amalgamation the
present parish of Campbeltown was formed. Prior to 1617 an independent parish church, it
was at that date combined with the old parochial churches of Kilcolmkill and Kilblaan to
form the new parish of Southend. Reverting, however. to independence again in 1636, it
was, in turn, added to the parish of Campbeltown in 1772, not, as is frequently stated, in

The ruins of the church, with its surrounding burial ground; lie just beyond the old
farmhouse of High Kilkivan, about 4½ miles from Campbeltown. Its situation, looking down
on the long low loom of Islay, and the wide sweep of Machrihanish Bay, furnishes another
example of that penchant for the picturesque, which was characteristic of the mediaeval
church builders, while, as is customary, a little stream flanks its northern side, and of two
ancient lo^siii^ welh near, that just behind the graveyard may, I think, be regarded as
Kilkivan's "Holy Well."

Like Kilchousland, it too is in tolerable preservation, the western gable being nearly entire,
although all the east and part of the north wall have disappeared. No windows are now to
be seen, but the door, which is about 6 feet high and 3½ feet broad, and is placed in the
north wall near the west angle, has a handsome arch of Gothic design.

On the inside of the west gable wall, about 7 feet above ground level, is a projecting corbel
stone, possibly for the support of a shaft or image, but the various other details described
by Captain White in his "Sketches" — projecting stone at the side of the door for the stoup,
and the recesses in the south wall, supposed to have been for the piscina and ambry —
have all disappeared, in the course of some restoration of the building.

Placed side by side within the church ruins are eight beautiful specimens of mediaeval
sculptured slabs. One is that of a full robed ecclesiastic with chalice, very similar to the
"Abbots Stone" at Saddell. Another is the raised effigy of an armed warrior of the
conventional type, with his long two-handed sword, which, according to the Kintyre
Historian, Peter Mclntosh, was appropriated to cover the remains of one who in his day, was
a distinguished fencing master and duelling champion, and who, by his prowess, was able
to overthrow and bring to their senses the professional swashbucklers, who had become a
dangerous public nuisance in the district — Archibald McNeill of Tirfergus. The others are
highly ornamental slabs, one of which , perhaps the finest of all is shown transposed —
right to left, and vice versa — in Captain White's "Sketches" (PL xvii. l.).

Although other fanciful etymologies have at times been mentioned, the church seems to
have lem dedicated to the same saint as St Coivin's Chapel in the parish of Southend —
Coivin, Kevin, or Coemgen, a contemporary of Columba.

Kilkivan is firmly associated traditionally with a curious system of divorce, whose

introduction has been attributed by no less learned a scholar than the Rev. John Smith
himself, to its venerable patron saint, who as already mentioned, was remarkable for the
beauty of his person and his extra-ordinary longevity.

The ceremony was to some extent the reverse of that associated with Kilchousland, and
was, the author of "Glencreggan" insinuates, much more popular.

Once a year those unfortunates who did not "rue in time" their matrimonial engagements,
and were now desirous of trying a change, met in this church. They were blindfolded, the
lights were all extinguished, and about midnight, the company — usually a crowded one —
was ordered to run pell mell round the church, until at the word "gabhag" — the Gaelic for
catch or grab — each man caught a woman who was to be his wife till, at least, the
corresponding time next year; when, if dissatisfied, the process could be repeated, and
great surely must have been the chagrin, when the lights were lit, and the decrees of fate
revealed, if it was found, as doubtless, it sometimes would, that a man had grabbed his
own wife, instead of the coveted one of his neighbour, a horrible catastrophe which the
parties concerned would, doubtless, by every possible quirk and device endeavour to

Nor are kindred means of divorce unknown elsewhere. In one of these which was associated
with the church of Stennis in Orkney, the dissatisfied parties simply entered the church by
one door together, and went out by separate ones, being thus effectively divorced.

A short distance south of the church is a little knoll known as "Cnocan-a-Chluig " (knoll of
the bell), as, from its summit, the ringing of a bell summoned the worshippers to their
devotions in the church. This bell seems in time to have degenerated into that of the now
obsolete Town Crier of Campbeltown.

Of the early history of Kilkivan little is known. In 1539 the perpetual vicarage of "Kilcowan,"
as it is on this occasion
spelt was held by Sir John Hawick, Chaplain, and its next presentee by James V was Sir John

Some of the lands of the parish were, in the 15th century granted to the Abbey of Saddell,
and, in the 17th century, the teinds were in the possession of the Bishop of Argyll. The
ancient graveyard is still in use, although to a very limited degree.



The foundations of Killellan Chapel can still be recognised in a little wood near the roadside,
a short distance beyond the mansion house of Killellan. The dimensions given by Captain
White are 31 feet by 15 feet, and a few grave mounds are yet to be seen.

The chapel was dedicated to one of the early Celtic saints named Fillan, possibly he whose
supposed arm, in its silver case, was used by the Bruce as a talisman at the Battle of
Bannockburn, contributing in the eyes of the credulous to that great victory.


The meaning and origin .of this name has hitherto been, to myself and others, to whom I
have spoken about it, a puzzle that could not be solved. Dr Frank Knight has, however,
apparently solved the enigma, when, quoting from the "Martyrology of Donegal," he
informs us, in his recently published volumes, that, "in 705 there passed away another Irish
Saint who has left a solitary place name in Scottish soil"—Coibhdenach, a Bishop, who
crossing over to Kintyre, built a chapel at Kilwhipnach.

Situated beyond Auchehcorvie, the chapel and associated burial ground were described in
1838, as lying at the foot of a hill beside a rivulet in a place famed for its limestone. The
houses and garden of the present farm would seem to have been built .on the site of the
old chapel and graveyard, some of the walls being still recognisable.

Kilwhipnach beyond Auchencorvie, is accordingly a dedication to this early Irish Saint

Coibhdenach — the only one in Scotland.


Believed to have been of very ancient date, this was situated 10 to 50 yards from the right
bank of the Chiskan Water, a short distance upstream from the farmhouse of Knocknaha.

In his account of the last struggle of the Clan Donald — largely a history of the "Life of Sir
James McDonald of Smerby", the unfilial desperado, who burned his father and mother out
of Askomil House, and then incarcerated the former in Smerby old Castle on the "Isle of
Miller — the author of "Argyll's Highlands" describes "The Raid of Kilchrist" in 1603, which,
to all appearance, he associated with this church or chapel of Kilchrist.

This is entirely misleading, for, as pointed out to me by Sheriff Macmaster Campbell, the
"Raid of Kilchrist" does not refer to Kilchrist in Kintyre, but to the church of Kilchrist or
"Gillechroist," which lay a little to the north of Beauly, in Ross-shire.

The story is, that, on a certain Sunday morning in 1603, while service was being held, and
the church was filled with a crowd of the McKenzies of the district, the building was set on
fire by a party of the McDonalds of Glengarry (not of Islay or Kintyre) and all within were
burned to death or killed in attempting to escape.

While the church was burning, the piper of the McDonald Chief, marched round the building,
mocking the cries of the victims with that pibroch, which, ever since, under the name of
'Kilchrist, has formed the family tune of the clan. Kilchrist in English means Christ-church or
St. Saviour.

[Mention is also made of an ancient chapel at Uigle. This was situated about half a mile
beyond Kilchriest Chapel, on the opposite side of the water. A Lachlan McNeill of Laggs
recollected seeing a font lying on some ruins here on a field which was known as "Achadh
an t-sagairt" — the priest's field. (From Lord Archibald Campbell's manuscripts].


This chapel and burial ground was situated on the right side of the road to Balloch, quite
near the main road to Southend, although Knocknaha Water is said to have eroded a
considerable piece of it away. Some fragments of the walls are still to be seen, and it is
recorded that adults were buried here between the years 1668 and 1838.

When James Fleming got a lease of Killeonan in 1786, and new buildings were being
erected, it is said that one of the corner stones of the old chapel "being a well carved and
goodly looking stone" was taken and placed in the wall of one of the new tenements as an
ornament. To the great surprise of the builders, however, they found next day that it had
fallen down; they put it up again, but "the same fate befell," and they were advised to
restore it to its original situation, which was done, and where in 1838 it was said "it now lies
and is seen to this day."

Now, in a remarkable autobiography by Robert Picken, a farmer who died at High Smerby
(about a mile higher up the glen than the present High Smerby) in 1840, it is related how,
on 7th Sept. 1838 (this same year, but possibly later) he offered to give his servant £1 to
go to Knocknaha or St Evan's (Killeonan) and "break a stone which he understood to be
there, in connection with which a multitude of superstitious notions and fables existed, and
were almost universally believed in." It was called the "Chapel Stone," and leaving home at
half-past eight o'clock in the evening, and returning about two o'clock in the morning, the
servant duly broke the stone and earned his £1.

The "Chapel Stone" was, obviously, associated with some foolish superstition which Mr
Picken desired to destroy, and
it appears to be in the highest degree probable that the two independent references apply
to the same stone.

Killeonan Chapel was dedicated to St. Adamnan, the famous Abbot of Iona, and the
biographer of St Columba.


Attached to Kilchousland was a small chapel called Kildonald, Kildonnel or Cil-Donain. In

the map taken from "Origines Parochiales" in 'Glencreggan' this is marked, just about half-
way between the farmhouse of Ballochgair and Low Ugadale, well back from the main road
— a situation in which I have often searched for it in vain.

It really lies on the west side of the main road to Saddell, just beyond the road end up to
Ballochgair Farmhouse, where there can be recognised an oblong raised piece of ground
irregular on the surface, and of a darker green colour than the neighbourhood. The burial
ground around the little chapel probably extended to the other side of the road.

The name of Kildonald is somewhat misleading, for it was seemingly dedicated to Saint
Donan, the Apostle of Eigg Island, who, in 617, with fifty-two of his monks suffered
martyrdom in that island, as did Constantine in the "Island of Kintyre."


The names of Kilkeddan and Ardnacross, the farm immediately beyond, suggest
ecclesiastical or sacred association, of which, till recently, little or nothing way generally

Kilkeddan is the name of the farm situated on the left bank of the river Lussa, a short
distance beyond Peninver and the name is believed to be a dedication to St. Cathan, the
saint to whom Kilchattan in Gigha and Kilchattan in the parish of Southend, have also been

Less than a mile beyond the farmhouse up Glenlussa, are the remains of some primitive
ancient buildings, designated a "Fort" on the ordnance survey map, and supposed by some
of those in the neighbourhood to have been an ancient graveyard. In the opinion of those
claiming greater initiation, however, these relics are neither, but the remains of what is
vastly more interesting, an ancient neolithic village.

Quite half a dozen of the oval shaped foundations of the dwelling huts, the oven and the
hollow in the virgin rock for grinding corn or wheat near it, are still quite recognisable.

Ardnacross means the height of the cross, although nothing of the existence of such a cross
in the neighbourhood is now known.

Towards the end of the year 1933, the ruins of what appeared to be a small chapel, and
surrounding graveyard, were visited by Mr Jas. H. MacKenzie, Mr Latimer Mclnnes, and
myself, behind the farmhouse. Mr Archd. Wilson, drainer,
having previously informed Mr MacKenzie of its existence.

About 500 yards behind Ardnacross farmhouse, a little way back from the right bank of the
Ardnacross Water, which runs down past the farmhouse and is used as a mill lade, we found
the ruins of an enclosure 95 feet long by 75 feet broad, the walls still standing to a height of
1½ to 2 feet. This apparently formed the boundary walls of an old graveyard.

Within this, but near its north-east corner are the ruins of a small building 24 feet long and
17 feet broad, built of similar undressed stones and of about the same height, the stones so
arranged as to give the little building the suggestion of an oval shape. This was apparently
a little chapel, its long diameter lying east and west as is customary. No traces of doors or
wmdows could be detected. Outside the chapel, could still be recognised a number of what
were obviously gravestones, a foot or so in height, and all facing the east as is orthodox.

No mention is made of this chapel in Captain White's exhaustive work — "Archaeological

Sketches of Kintyre," or in any of the other authorities I have been able to consult; the site
is unnoticed in the large ordnance survey of the district; and the present tenant of the farm
was quite unaware of its existence.

A former tenant — Mr Samuel Mitchell of Whitehill House — is familiar with it however, and
my own impression is that here, in all probability, we have the original Kilkeddan — the Cill
of Cathan, the farmhouse of Kilkeddan being only about 800 yards away, as the crow flies.

As to Ardnacross, it is, I think, practically certain that a cross must at one time have stood
near by. Possibly it may have been a "prostration cross" that once stood just outside the old
graveyard, but no trace of it is now to be found.


The modern united Parish of Killean ami Eilkenzie forms a strip of the western area of
Kintyre, about 18 miles long and 4 or 5 miles wide from seaboard to watershed. It includes
the three ancient parishes of (from south to north) Kilkenzie, Kilacrow or Kinmarow, both of
which in breadth extended only to the watershed, and Killean, which originally reached
right across Kintyre from sea to sea.

Kilkenzie appears to have been united to Kilarrow about the period of The Reformation
(1560), and, about 1636, the present united parish was formed.


The old Parish Church of Kilkenzie, the last of several successive ones, forms a conspicuous
object perched on the summit of a little hill to the west of the Clachan or Kirkton of
Kilkenzie, which lies about 4 miles north-west of Campbeltown. 75 feet long and 22 feet
wide, it is very similar to the other old Kintyre Churches already described, particularly to
that of Kilcolmkill in Southend, although Mr Muir thinks it a little earlier than this.

The gable walls are nearly intact, but there are large gaps in the side walls towards the east
end. In the east gable wall is a lancet window, some 5 feet long and 11 feet broad, splayed
to 6 feet by 4 feet interally, and about the centre of the south wall is another small window
with rounded arch at the top. The door was in the south side near its west end.

Somewhat carelessly collected in the west end of the interior of the church, are a number of
ancient sculptured stones, in fair preservation. One is dedicated to a lady — "Hic jacet
Katherina Filia Neill" and others are decorared with the customary sword, shears, galley,
etc., as is described by Captain White. He, however, does not mention the effigy of a knight
in armour which also has been placed within this railed off enclosure.

More interesting, perhaps, than all these was a rough, oblong stone, about 4 feet in length,
which Captain White saw with a rude form of wheel cross, which is regarded as evidence of
great antiquity.

The church is dedicated to St Kenneth, Cainech or Kenn, who, like Ciaran, was a close friend
and associate of Columba.

Born about 517 and dying in 600, he is frequently referred to in Adamnan's "Life of St
Columba," and is reputed to be buried in Inch Kenneth, a little island off the west coast of

Of the parsonage of the church, two-thirds of which once belonged to the Monks of Iona,
and one-third to the Bishop
of The Isles, the whole passed to the Bishop as Commendator of Iona, in 1561, and in 1695
the tithes of Kilkenzie and Killarow came into the possession of The Duke of Argyll. The
ancient burial giound surrounding the church is still in use.


This is the name of the old Parish Church united to Kilkenzie in Reformation times, and the
farm above Tangy village is named so still. Here, Captain White says, "there is no vestige or
tradition of a religious site," but, according to the late Rev. D. J. Macdonald of Killean, the
late Mr Lachlan Clark of Tangy, found quite distinct evidences of this "in a field behind the
village of Tangy," when it was being ploughed, and this we may, I think accept as the
situation of the church.

It was dedicated to Mael-Rubha or Malruve (meaning red priest — maol ruadh) the Apostle
of North-West Scotland, who, for many years, was the head of the conventual establishment
of Apurcrossan (Applecross) where he died in 772, a rude cross like tne older one in Sanda
marking his grave. The variety of his dedicatory names — White mentions Marow, Morry,
Arrow, Olrow, and Frank Knight says there are some 39 of them — has resulted in some
confusion and some difficulty in recognising his dedications.

Killean - Sculptured Stones


The old Parish Church of Killean, surrounded by its still used and lately extended graveyard,
lies to the west of the main road between Campbeltown and Tarbert, opposite the farm
steading of Killean, and immediately to the south of Killean Burn.

Its state of preservation does not differ materially from that of the church of Kilkenzie,
although its eastern portion has obviously been repaired in comparatively recent times, but
its architectural features are of a distinctly higher order, and the church itself was one of
the superior churches of the district. It is possessed of a north wing or transept, which, with
the exception of Saddell Abbey, of which it is sometimes called a "chapel church," is a
unique feature in the ancient churches of Kintyre.

The main building is about 74 feet by 17 feet, the wing on the north side, which was
apparently added at a later date being about 16 feet square, and, while the main building is
roofless, this northern addition is roofed over, being also mantled with ivy.

The walls, with the exception of the west. which is wanting, are in good preservation. In the
east gable are two large handsome windows parallel to one another, and now built up.
Above them is an ornamental moulding, which, fulling in three steps on either side, ends
near the sable on the south, but, on the north is continued round for about five feet on the
north wall.

Most of the other windows have also been built up. and a transverse partition in stone has
been built across the main building, in line with the west wall of the noith transept. In the
more dilapidated west portion of the church beyond the partition, a small opeu Norman
leaded window is found on either side wall.

The main doorway, also of Norman architecture is found in the south wall near its east end,
while a smaller square headed one also appears near its western one. The wing building on
the north side, occupying the position of a north transept, is entered from the main building
by a low round-headed doorway 5 feet high. Above this is a small circular loop hole, and
this annex is dimly lighted by two small lancet shaped windows, each 4 feet long by 8
inches wide, one in the north and the other in the east wall. Whatever its original purpose,
the building was for long used as the family buried vault of the Macdonalds of Largie, an
inscription above the doorway reading "Here lie the bones of the House of Largie."

In the burn outside the church, Captain White found a scooped out square block of stone,
unmistakably like a holy water stoup, which has been replaced within the church, but in a
portion of unmerited neglect and dishonour.

The church was dedicated to St John the Evangelist, hence known as "Ecclesia Sancti
Johannis," a very unusual dedication in the Celtic Church, and mentioned along with it
frequently is the Chapel of Kilmory, which is the nanse of a farm a little way up the glen just
beyond, and while Kilmory is generally considered to be a dedication to St. Mael-Rubha, in
this instance, it may readily stand for "Ecclesia Sancte Maria" — a dedication to The Virgin.

Once scattered throughout the graveyard, a large number of beautifully ornamented

monumental slabs, now lie within the Largie Vault, where they have been placed for better
preservation. Captain White gives an account of eleven, but there are a few more. He also
mentions the socket of a cross, lying just outside the gateway, where it cannot now be
found, and which the aged caretaker says he has never seen.

Among the carved stones is the effigy in bas-relief of a knight, very like that of Ruonal Cain
na Foille in (Saddell, his right hand also clasping a spear, while a sword - a particularly
large and awkward one — is girded round his waist. A shield with lymphad or galley covers
his breast, and the particularly well preserved efiigy is believed to represent one of the Clan
Ranald Bane, the Macdonalds of Largie. By his side lies the ethgy of a cleric in his

Of the flat slabs, Captain White describes one as "the most elaborate and beautiful
specimen of tomb carving I remember to have seen in the west."

The customary two handed sword is tne "piece de resistance," and, round it on all sides, the
sculptor has let his chisel run into forms of the most exquisite grace and symmetry, while a
grotesque figure, part man and part beast at one side, adds a curious and puzzling feature
to the design.

The remainder of the slabs are of the usual flat monumental type, with swords, carvings of
animals, etc., two, however,
being very plain, one with a Latin cross, and the other with a sword; whose long straight
guard is set squarewise.

The year 1243 appears to be that upon which this church of Killean is first mentioned,
Alexander II by Royal Charter, in that year, granting to the Bishop of Argyll this church, with
its lands and pertinents.

When Haco of Norway's priest Symon died in Gigha in 1263, it is recorded that he was given
burial by the Monks of Saddell. The late Rev. D. J. Macdonald of Killean, was of opinion that
this burial took place in Killean, "their Chapel Church," and not, as is generally supposed,
and as Sheriff Macmaster Campbell strongly holds in Saddell. In the Norwegian account of
Haco's expedition, the original says — "Hann andadiz i Gudey. Var lik hans hutt upp a Satyri
ok grasit at Gramunka klaustri." 'He died at Gigha, His corpbse was afterwards carried up
to Kintyre and interred at the Grey Monks Monastery'. This seems to make it quite certain
that Simon was buried at Saddell, not indeed in the church, which would have been
contrary to the custom of the Monks, but in their monastery grounds.

The main building of Killean Church probably dates from 1220, the side portion being of
later erection, and the church was last used as a place of public worship in 1770. The
minister was then the Rev. Robert Thomson. Warned, it was said by some, by the
appearance of an angel — or it may be influenced unknown to himself by some sort of
subconscious cerebration, which recognsed the dangerous state of the cnurch — not to use
the building on a certain Sunday, the service was conducted in a tent in the space around,
and very fortunately so, for, just after the sermon concluded, the roof fell in with a
tremendous crash.
The church was never restored, and the people left for thirty years without a place of
worship. The new church at Cleit, which is still in use, was opened in the year 1787.


Less than a mile east from Kilkenzie Village, on the north side of the main road, a bubbling
little stream gushes out of a spring at the base of the hill, a few yards from the roadside,
which is still known as "Tober Macha" (Tobar Mochoe or Mochua) the well of Mochoe.

This is obviously the "Holy Well" of the former little chapel of Kilmaho, which stood on the
opposite side of the road, a little nearer the town of Campbeltown, in the corner of a field at
present under cultivation.

Near its former site is a single elder tree or bourtry bush, one very likely of a circle of them
placed round the church, as was customary — to keep away evil spirits.

Nothing is known of the chapel's history, and its dedication was to this Mochoe or Mochua,
and not, as Captain White supposed to Mael-rubha.


Captain Wliite supposes that this was another form of dedication to Mael-rubha, a view
which receives some support from the fact that, a little way above and behind the
farmhouse of Killocraw, the undoubted site of an ancient burial ground is situated.

Dr Cameron Gillies, on the other hand, is of opinion that, in this instance, Kill does not stand
for ''Cill," a Monk's cell, but for "Coille," a wood, and that Killocraw, therefore, stands for
"Coille chno", the nut wood.

A still more romantic etymology is furnished by Peter Mclntosh, the historian of Kintyre,
who, somewhat fantastically, it may be, associates the name with the rescue and return to
Tirfergus of some stolen cattle, discovered here, and so the place, he says, was called
"Tilleadh na creach" — the return of the spoil."


Captain White makes this also a variety of dedication to Maol-rubha, but here again Dr
Gillies renders it "Coille a ghruthair" — the brewer's wood.

There is no record of any chapel or graveyard near the farm of this name, which lies a short
distance south of the village of Glenbarr.


Traces of an ancient burial ground are found on the roadside immediately beyond the
farmhouse of that name, which is situated about two miles up Barr Glen. Irregular heaps of
stones suggest some sort of chapel, but although Captain White found some old
tombstones, and we have even heard of one of these being used for the repair of the farm
buildings, none of these can now be distinguished.

The dedication is to St Maluag, who died about 592. His venerable crosier was for long in
the custody of a family of Livingstones of Lismore, who were in consequence known as "The
Barons of Bachull." The relic is now in the possession of The Duke of Argyll.

[Mention is made of a little inland in Tangy Loch, on which tradition says there was a small
chapel, in which delinquents who had incurred the displeasure of the priest were
imprisoned or fined. The Loch was thus called "Loch-na-Cain," the Loch of Pennance.

Talking of this loch and its beauties the writer, whose initials, N. M. K. R., at once reveal his
identity waxes eloquent when he declares — "Kintyre abounds witli many other lakes of
great beauty high up among the liills, reflecting in their waters the rocks and ferns on their
banks, and in the autumn the bloom of the heather on the slopes of the hills.

These lakes are never seen by the general public and, indeed, are little known of save by
gentlemen who come to the country towards the beginning of autumn and who either
amuse themselves by fishing in them for trout, or by grouse shooting in the hills and vales,
and who commit follies of many kinds, such as assuming the garb of our clans, with kilt.
sporran, skean, Highland bonnet, drink, drive about in light carriages over peat roads, and
practice all the devices which youth and wealth, stimulated by pride and indolence, can
suggest among the solitudes our Gaels have left desolate by emigration. (From Lord
Archibald Campbell's manuscripts) ].



Kilcalmonell is a parochial sub-division of the combined parish of Kilcalmonell and Kilberry,

the latter being, however, of the nature of a chapel of ease, with a separate minister.

In 1753 the eastern half of the old parish was lopped off, and, with a similar slice from the
old parish of Killean, now forms the united parish of Saddell aud Skipness.

Modern Kilcalmonell is formed by a long strip of the land along the east side of West Loch
Tarbert, beginning a little to the north of Rhunahaorine Point, and including a small portion
of Kintyre south of East Loch Tarbert, which ends at "Camus na Ban-tighearna," (Lady's Bay)
on the shores of Loch Fyne.

Nothing now remains of the original church of the parish, which in the 17th century, stood
at Clachan, nor of a still earlier one at Balnakeill, marked on some old maps as
"Balnaheglish," (Baile na h-eaglaise) meaning Kirkton or Clachan. The present church was
not erected till 1760.

In the churchyard around this modern building, a number of the usual mediaeval sculptured
slabs are found, some of them appropriated as memorials of more modern descendants.
They display the familiar sword, shears, and foliated ornamentation, which is conventional
on such stones.

The church is dedicated to Colman Elo or Ela, also called Columbanus, a descendant, like
Columba himself, of the famous Royal Irish race of Niall of the Seven Hostages. Born at
Tyrone in 555, he died at Lynally in 611, and the church of Colmonell, in Ayrshire, is also
dedicated to him.

The earliest record of tlie church dates from the 13th century. In the year 1247 some
arrangement was made between the Rector of Kilcalmonell and "Dufgal the Son of Syfyn,"
Laird of Schypinche (Skipness) concerning a grant of land, and in 1261 the same Laird
donated to the Monks of Paisley Abbey, the avowsons to this church of St Colmonell and
one of its dependences, the chapel of St Columba at Skipness, a matter to be referred to
when dealing with that chapel.

A deed is also recorded in 1455, in which "Joannis de Yle, Comes Rossie et Daminus
Insularum," gives to Paisley Abbey, the rectories "Ecclesiarum Sancti Kylkerran et

Colmanelli" in Kintyre and Knapdale, datum apud Clean daghallagan" in Knapdale XCCCCLV

Clean daghallagan is really an error for "Eilean da Ghallagan" that historic little island near
the head of West Loch Tarbert, whose identity was discovered by the late Colonel MacLeod
of Saddell, and with whose situation and significance, its excursion to Kilmory Knap, will
have made, or ought to have made, The Kintyre Antiquarian Society familiar.



This is St. Bride's Burial Place, which is found about three miles south of Tarbert, and nearly
one mile inland from the main road alongside West Loch Tarbert.

The burial ground stands on a rocky eminence, and is surrounded by a tolerably well built
wall of undressed stone, fringed internally with a double row of trees, as can be seen from
the main road.

Within this are — 1 An enclosure about 12 feet square, and 5 to 7 feet high, built of stone
and lime, which is the ancient burial ground of the Campbells of Stonefield; and (2) Lying to
the north-west of this, the remains of a small chapel, its walls built of large undressed
stones, still standing to a height of 2 to 3 feet. The west wall, like one or two others in
Kintyre, is curved convexly outwards, instead of being, as usual, straight.

Lying just outside the north-west angle of the chapel, is an irregular shaped fragment of
stone, into which there fits
accurately, a flat piece of stone, about 2 feet in height, these being obviously the lower
fragment of a cross and its socket, which once stood there.

The dedication was to the much veneratel St. Bride, known as "The Madonna of The Irish,"
a lady of great piety, who, according to Dr Frank Knight's archaeological revelations, owing
to a strange blunder on the part of the officiating clergyman, who read the ritual for the
inauguration of a Bishop, instead of that for the consecration of a Nun, as was intended,
was inadvertently created a Bishop, and a Bishop she continued to be, it being, presumably,
impossible to annul or amend, what had been so solemnly performed "in nomine Patris, et
Filii, et Spiritu.s Sancti, Amen."


Here also are the remains of a small chapel and burying ground. This is situated on the top
of a little knoll, a short distance from the main road. Two small grave stones, with writing
that can in parts be deciphered, are still to be seen. The dedication is to St. Michael.


Cladh Mhicheil is a little old burying ground situated within a mile of Kilchamaig Farmhouse.
Although there is no sign of a burial ground in the neighbourhood of the latter, there may
originally have been, and, in any case, the dedications are to St Michael and St. Cormac.

[It is stated that in Cladh Mhicheil are buried Lieutenant-General Robert Campbell of
Kintarbert, Captain Hector MacLean, who was refused church privileges because he was
seen taking a salmon out of a net on Sunday, and Miss Lucy Campbell, who died at
Gowanbank, Campbeltown, and left £13,350 for the benefit of the parishioners of
Campbeltown parish. She died in 1843 ].

Saddell Abbey - Sculptured Stones



The principal ancient ecclesiastical building in the now combined Parish of Saddell and
Skipness, united in 1753, is the venerable Monastery of Saddell, than whicli, with the single
exception of Iona Cathedral, no ecclesiastical seat in the West Highlands was held in higher
reverence, or enjoyed greater esteem. Built on an exceptionally well-chosen site of peaceful
calm and picturesque beauty, in a well wooded vale, through which gently meandered the
softly purling waters of the "Allt nam Manach" — the Monk's Burn — the Monastery must
have been one of dignity and importance.

Of the church walls only a few fragments now remain standing to any height, but the tracks
or mounds left in continuation of them indicate that this conformed to the general design
upon which the Cistercian Order of Monks, to
whom the Abbey belonged, were wont to build their churches.

According to The New Statistical Account of the Parish, Reginald, son of Somerled, first Lord
of the Isles, after his fathers death, sent to Rome for a quantity of consecrated dust (uir
naomhichte na Roinihe), and made the building commensurate with the extent to which it
could be scattered. In any case, the fabric was large and capacious, so large indeed that,
according to an ancient traditional manner of describing it, "they would be preaching at one
end of the church, and singing at the other, and one party would never ken what the other
was doing."
"It was in the form of a cross, which lay in an exact position towards the four cardinal
points." The length from east to west was about 136 feet, the breadth 24 feet, while the
transept from north to south was 78 feet by 24 feet. The south end of the transept was
extended from the gable to a distance of 58 feet, and from this projected another building,
running parallel to the body of the church, which was crossed in turn at its termination by
another erection, running westwards at right angles, leaving a square or quadrangle within
these buildings. The body of the church itself, from east to west, measured 60 feet, and the
height of the side walls 24 feet. The Cloisters, which were in the centre of this square,
measured, it is said, 25 yards from east to west, and 17 yards from north to south, not
forming a true square, and the Refectory, which lay to the south of this, is said to lie in an
unusual position, this being caused by the adjacent stream unduly curtailing the ground
available for building.

In 1861, the Hev. J. M. Gresley found portions of the north and south walls of The Refectory,
about 9 yards long and 8
to 10 feet high, still standing, as well as portions of the Choir, 8 yards from east to west,
and 6 yards from noth to south, as also about 7 square yards of the North Transept, in the
gable of which way the aperture for a window, and this is very much the present state of

Quite recently great masses of ivy, which almost hid the details of the ruins still standing
have been removed, so that these are now much better seen.

The measurements given by Captain White, practically agree with those given in The
Statistical Account. In a ground plan of the Abbey, drawn up by Mr J. S. Richardson, of The
Scottish Board of Works, the extent of the Choir does not, however, correspond with the
description given of it in The New Statistical Account, and I am disposed to think that this is
correct, as it agrees with its present appearance, and the nature of the ground, which here
slopes sharply down to the east, would render any extension in that direction very difficult.

In rendering the cloister garth square, instead of oblong, Mr Richardson's ground plan, on
the other hand, probably requires emendation.

As regards the shape of the church, this, in Mr Richardson's ground plan, instead of being
cruciform, as The Statistical Account says, and as is usual, is altogether wanting in a south
Transept, giving the church a curious lopsided appearance, very much like Killean Church,
and the remaining ruins seem to support such a conception.

Two tall slender poplar trees, planted there many years ago, by the late Colonel MacLeod of
Saddell, mark the north and south boundaries of the west gable — the naive — of Saddell

So far back, however, as 1839 - 43, Dean Howson wrote of Saddell Abbey, "the demolition
of the building is so great, that it is utterly impossible to ascertain the architectural
character of any portion of the Monastery. The apertures of the windows are narrow, and
appear to denote an early English character; but the hewn stones were taken away by an
ancient proprietor of the estate to build the house of Saddell.

Captain White gives numerous examples of this wholesale spoliation, in which the moulded
stones of the venerable Abbey, and even the grave-stones from the cemetery around, have
been appropriated for the building of the walls of Saddell House, and the masonry of the
stables; and the writer of The New Statistical Account, referring to this celebrated Monastic
institution, impressively declares that, "after it had for centuries withstood the violence of
the solstitial rains and equinoxial gales, the hands of a modern Goth converted it into a
quarry out of which he took materials to build dykes and offices, paving some of the latter
with the very grave-stones. He did not, however, long survive the sacrilegious deed, as he
soon afterwards lost his life by a trifling accident, which the country people consider a
righteous retribution, and the estate passed into other hands."

Another version of the story runs, that Campbell of Saddell, and later of Newfield, in the
Parish of Dundonald, Ayrshire, removed stones from the Abbey for building houses and
enclosures, and made kailyards of the Abbey Cemetery. He sold the property to Colonel
Donald Campbell of Skye, for £27,000. After the sale, Newfield met with an accident — a
deep wound of the knee-pan which never healed, leaving him a cripple for life, which was
considered a judgment. He died in poverty.

In the once extensive graveyard around the Abbey, which is bounded by the little "Allt nan
Manach," and upon part of which the present village of Saddell now stands, there formerly
lay scattered about a large number of ancient monumental slabs, but, about 40 or 50 years
ago, the late Colonel MacLeod of Saddell had the most valuable of these collected and
placed side by side in the Choir, where they still lie. Among them are —

1 The partially reconstructed fragments of a cross.

2 Lying on the wall of the Choir, at its extreme .south, is the effigy of a knight, carved in
high relief, "one of the most highly finished in The West Highlands." The knight is
represented with conical bassinet or long pointed helmet, a tippet or gorget of chain mail
over the shoulders, a jupon or surcoat, reaching beyond the knees, while the right hand,
raised to the shoulder, is grasping a spear, and the left is holding a sword. According to the
investigations of Captain White, this would seem to have been the reputed effigy of "Ruonal
cam na Foile "—One Eyed Ronald the Deceitful. In a little niche in the wall, above the head
of this effigy, it was for long customary to have a human skull placed, and a very romantic
story associated with it is related in the pages of "Glencreggan."

3 Another similar effigy of a knight lies on the wall, at the extreme north of the group. This
is provided with two little attendant figures, one an ecclesiastic at the head, and the other
a naked little figure at the right foot. This effigy is associated locally with a MacDonald,
variously remembered as "MacDonald Mor," "The Tyrant," "The Fingalian," etc., a Lord of
The Isles of detested memory, and of whose wantonness and wickedness, many traditions
survive in the neighbourhood.

4 With his head lying immediately beneath the reconstructed cross, is another sculptured
figure, lying in the centre of the group, and with a single little attendant figure at the head.
According to one account this represents none other than the Mighty Somerled himself, and
its position at least suggests that the original was esteemed of outstanding renown.

5 A small sized figure in stone, known as "The Hunting Warrior."

6 What is known as "The Abbot's Tombstone" — a beautifully carved representation of an

ecclesiastic in full Eucharistic vestments, although the figure seems that of a priest rather
than an Abbot.

7 Another sculpture represents a cowled Monk, clasping to his breast a breviary or service
book, but his head has been sliced away.

8 Among the other monumental slabs, is a, singular one, adorned with the lymphad or
galley, and, what seems very rare, two of the usual swords lying side by side. Lying on the
top of the wall of the Choir, at its south-east corner, is what is regarded as the "Holy Water
Stoup" of the Monastery — the neatest and most dainty of them I have ever seen. Nor was
the Ancient Abbey lacking in its "Holy Well." This is found near the ruins, but on the
opposite side of the Monk's Burn. Consisting of a little basin, at the top of a white pillar,
adorned with a Latin cross, it supplied water for the benetier or baptismal font, and was re-
erected or restored by Bishop Brown at the beginning of last century. It long enjoyed a
high reputation as a "Wishing Well," and, even yet, ladies are to be seen, old; as well as
young, solemnly and credulously, dropping into its crystal waters, the pin or coin
demanded, as three times they think on their most darling wish, one on no account to be
revealed if the ritual is to be a success.

While possibly the Abbey owed its inception to "The Mighty Somerled," the first Lord of The
Isles, his death at Renfrew, in 1164, resulted in its foundation and erection being mainly the
work of his son Reginald, although it is also maintained that its completion did not take
place until the reign (for these Chiefs designated themselves "Kings of The Isles") of his son
Donald. Reginald at least is called "fundator of the said Monastery," and gifted it large and
valuable grants of lands in Arran and Kintyre, and although Iona is often claimed as their
place of sepulture, the preponderance of evidence appears to support the iview that, as
firmly believed locally, all three — Somerled, Reginald, and Donald lie buried within the
precincts of the venerable Abbey grounds, with whose name they are associated.

The origin and history of the Monastery have been recorded, with a great wealth of detail,
by Sheriff Macmaster Campbell, in his lecture to The Kintyre Antiquarian Society on "Saddcll

It is generally understood to have been founded about 1160, although possibly not
completed till about 1210. Its black
cowled Monks were distinguished by the white habit which they wore as a sign of special
devotion to the Blessed Virgin

Mary, to whom their churches were, as a rule, dedicated, and hence they are known as
White or Grey Monks.

The successive Lords of The Isles endowed the Abbey with valuable gifts of lands and
special privileges, the Charters for which were duly endorsed by successive Scottish Kings.
After three centuries of organised devotional activities, James IV, in 1507, granted a royal
charter recognising the claims of Saddell Abbey to certain landed bequests from former
Lords of The Isles, but, formally making over all these to The Bishopric of Argyll, on the
union of the latter with the Abbacy.

From that date [The Monks would seem to have left the Abbey for a few years before it was
handed over to tlie Bishop of Argyll] Saddell Abbey became virtually noil-existent. No longer
did its pious Grey Monks engage in their manifold works of demotion. The untenanted
buildings were neglected, they were even used for purely secular if not profane ends, and
now, in this lovely sheltered dell where ten generations of saintly monks were wont
solemnly to intone their long Latin prayers, and fervently chant their lusty anthems, and
their loud amens, are only to be heard the softer and less articulate, but it may be none the
less expressive .voices of all nature harmoniously blending together in adoring paeons of
their Creator's praise, the sweet singing of the birds, the soft sighing of the trees, the
sombre soughing of the winds, and the mellow and musical wimpling and purling of that
dainty little brook, by whose side this old Monastery of Saddell Abbey once seemed so
enduring and so secure.

Kilbrannan Chapel - Main Door


About 18 or 19 miles north of Saddell, the point of Skipness (or Schypinche) — Ship Point, in
Norse — projects into the estuary of The Firth of Clyde, dividing what is specifically Loch
Fyne from the Sound of Kilbrannan. Near the extremity of this point stands the well
preserved ruins of Skipness Castle, and adjoining it, are the remains of the Chapel of
Kilbrannan or St. Columba. Captain White remarking that it bears the latter name in only
one ancient document.

The Chapel was the principal appanage of its parent establishment at Kilcalmonell, and, as
is usual, is situated in an environment of exceptional beauty, near a long stretch of white
shingly beach, on the western fringe of the blue expanse of Kilbrannan Sound, beyond
which the jagged peaks of Arran rise in imposing array, while, further to the north, beyond
the wider waters of the Sound of Bute, the verdant shores of that island delight the eye.

The Chapel is, apart from Saddell Abbey, not only the largest in Kintyre, but, Mr Muir says,
apart from Iona, the largest probably also in all Argyll. It is besides the most handsome in
design, and, thanks to the care of the Skipness lairds, the best preserved.

Of similar elongated design to the other old Kintyre churches, it measures 75 feet by 19
feet internally, and 82 feet by 27 feet externally, the walls being between 4 feet and 5 feet
in thickness.

As is by no means unusual, the windows are arranged somewhat irregularly, 4 in the south
wall and 2 in the north. The west gable window, centrally placed, has, above it, a second
small window with square top, a quite unique feature in the Kintyre series of old churches.
Immediately beneath the sill of this is a small perforation, which was used for a bell rope.
The west gable indeed is carried up to the bell-cot, as was frequent in the early English
style of church, as this chapel is. All those windows, with the exception of the little west
square headed one, are pointed lancets, deeply splayed in their recesses, and headed with
the common form of Gothic arch.

The greater part of the east end of the south wall has had a number of modern
mausoleums, built up against its outside,
among them that of the old Campbells of Skipncss, much marring the external appearance
of this part of the Chapel, and blocking up three windows and a door, as is best seen from
the interior. But the crowning glory of this old Chapel of Skipness is its east gable window.
Captain White describing it as "quite a little gem of harmonious effect," whether viewed
from the outside or from within. It is of slender sharply pointed type, with a single mullion
dividing it into two similarly pointed lights, and leaving a third very small opening at their
head, while the interior arch of the recess is nearly semi-circular.

Of three doors, that near the chancel has, as already said, been built up. The other two,
situated near the west ends of the north and south walls, have pointed Gothic heads, the
south-west one being particularly ornate. The blending of the bright red sandstone, which
forms the linings of all the openings — doors and windows — as well as of the corners of the
building, with the bluish-grey stone, of which the bulk of the edific is constructed, forms a
particularly happy and striking combination of colour, and adds very materially to the
effectiveness of the whole design.

In the interior of the south wall, near its east angle, is a large square-shaped recess or
niche, where, doubtless, the piscina was placed to receive the water fouled by the cleansing
of the sacred vessels, etc., and, what is not mentioned in any of the authorities I have been
able to consult, and what is not now found in any other of the old churches of Kintyre,
although there is a very perfect one in the Chapel of Keils, Knapdale, in a corresponding
position in the north wall, its most common site, is a similar but smaller niche, which,
doubtless, formed the ambry or aumbry, a kind of press, in which the sacred vessels of the
church were stored.

The removal of the piscina and ambry, as well as ot the altar, which would be placed under
the beautiful east window,
is, doubtless, to be attributed to the fanatical zeal of post Reformation iconoclasts.

Of monumental sculptured slabs, Captain White, in his "Sketches," gives illustrations of

five, but, although I found a few of such flat slabs lying within the chapel, I was unable to
decipher many details he mentions. The interior of this chapel differs from most of the
others in Kintyre, in not having been used for sepulture, and it is devoid of the common
type of tombstone frequently found in them.

The association of the Chapel with Columba is mentioned in a very ancient document in
which "Dugfal the son of Syfyn" gives for the welfare of his own soul, and those of others,
"to God, St. James and St Mirinus of Passelet (Paisley) and the Monks at that place, the
patronage of the Church of Colmanell in Kintyre, together with the Chapel of St. Columba,
which is situated close by his Castle of Schephinche" (Skipness). This document is dated
Palm Sunday, 1261.

Dr Frank Knight indeed makes the very pertinent suggestion, that Columba, who was
virtually expelled or expatriated from Ireland in 563 (or as he maintains 562) being
passionately devoted to the sea, frequently, before that date, sailed over to Scotland — the
southern parts of it — and founded as already referred to, among others, possibly also this
Chapel of Kilcolmkill or Columba at Skipness.

The other and perhaps more common dedication of the Chapel is to St Brandan or Brendan,
one of two saints associated respectively with Clonfert and with Birr, in Ireland. They were
contemporaries and both wore favoured with the friendship of Columba.

[Dr Archibald B. Scott very confidently maintains that Kilhrannan is named after St. Brendan
of Ardfert, which is in Kerry, and from one of the Tralee Havens near, he sailed on his
voyages. He was an entirely different person from either St. Brendan of Clonfert or St.
Brendan of Birr, which are situated in the centre of Ireland. He also declares that the
association of the chapel with St. Columba, was effected by the clergy for the deliberate
purpose of fraudulently having the revenues transferred to themselves. Kilbrannan Chapel
was never, he says, dedicated to St. Columba].


In "The March of Man," a Chronological Record of Peoples and Events from Prehistoric Times
to the Present Day," recently (1935) published by The Encyclopaedia Britannica Co., Ltd.,
there is included a "Historical Atlas" in Map 33 (b) of which is shown an Ancient Monastery
at Crossaig, in Kintyre.

Although I have never heard a whisper as to the existence of such an interesting relic in this
neighbourhood, and it is not shown in any of the maps available for examination here, I at
once discovered, when some little time later I visited Crossaig, what would appear to be the
ruins of such a building, ideally situated in Crossaig Glen, some 30 yards to the north of
Crossaig Water, and not far from where this Water enters the Sound of Kilbrannan.

The ruins lie to the south of the farm steading of North Crossaig, and consist of a large
collection of dark ancient looking stones, which rise to the height of a few feet, and form an
elevated plateau, the south and east portions of which are particularly distinct, and my visit
quite convinced me that the old map was correct, and that an old Monastery did once exist
here, some of the modern farm buildings, doubtless, now occupying part of its former site.

In the neighbourhood I observed an unusually large number of stone dykes, built of

unmortared ancient looking stones which, I have little doubt, were also derived from the

In addition to local researches, and enquiries, in which I was much aided by Mr James H.
Mackenzie, of our local Library, quite a number of likely authorities on Scottish Monasteries
further afield were communicated with, in order to verify, if possible, the existence of such
a Monastery, but, for long, in vain.

At length, however, the publishers of "The March of Man" were able to inform me that the
Monastery of Crossaig was marked on Map XI. of the "Historical Church Atlas" by Edmund
McClure, published in 1897 by "The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge," (SPCK)but
they were unable to find a copy of this in London, even in The British Museum.

On reporting this to Dr Annie I. Cameron, of H.M. General Register House, Edinburgh, to

whom I had already written with negative result, that lady discovered a copy of this Atlas in
The .National Library, Edinburgh, and, on consulting it, found that the name of the monastic
foundation there given was "Crusay," instead of Crossaig.
This payed the way for the further discovery by herself and the Curator of The Register
House, that, in "Geographical Illustrations of Scottish History," 1796, David McPherson
wrote — "Crusay Monastery in the Western Isles (Keith—'Scottish Bishops,' page 239). Q. if
not rather in Kintire, frequently reckoned an island, where there is now a small hayen called
Crusay. N.B. In An. UI. there is a foundation of a church apud Croosan."

The reference to Kintyre being an island — Magnus Barefoot's somewhat crude stratagem
by which he claimed to make it one is well-known — is most illuminating, and unequivocally
verifies the existence of the Monastery of Crusay in Kintyre, but the last reference is quite
wrong, the words in the original being "ecclesiam Apurcroosan" — St. Maelrubha's famous
Wester Ross Monastery of Applecross.

The Rev. D. E. Easson, Ph.D., of Mauchline, who it at present investigating Benedictine and
Allied Monasteries in Scotland, writes me that he too is most interested. He points out that
in "Spottiswood's Religious Houses" 'Crusay' is referred to as an Augustinian House, in the
Western Isles, founded by St. Columba. He has further ascertained that in a 17th century
MS. in the Library of The University of Edinburgh, entitled "Nomina Monasteriorum" there is
the following entry, viz — "Crusai" In Ins. occid. Urdo. S. Augustini. Pundator. S. Columba.

Dr Easson explains that the Augustinians probably replaced, as very frequently happened,
an earlier company of Celtic Monks, and a Celtic Monastery, which had previously stood on
the same ground.

Dr Easson also suggested that I might communicate with the Reiv. Archibald B. Scott, D.D.,
Helmsdale, Sutherland, the learned writer on the Pictish Nation, who, he said, was "the man
who knew all about these things," and this suggestion proved most successful. I do not
suppose, indeed, there is a single person alive who knows more about the Monastery of
Crusay than Dr Scott; he is the first, and as yet, the only person I have come across, who
knows anything
whatever about it. He writes me that he visited the spot 30 years ago, and well remembers
the ruins I have described. He considers that Crusay was an early Monastic Settlement of
the Celtic type, followed by a 12th century building of Roman type, neither of them large
communities, and that the establishment more or less persisted till the 15th century. It was
not founded by St Columba, as Spottiswood and others state, nor was it ever listed among
the places paying tribute to lona, as was indeed to be expected, for Iona, like Paisley, was
Cluniac, whereas Crusay was Augustinian.

Dr Scott inclines to the opinion that the founder of "Crusay" was St. Colman Ela or
Columbanus, an independent Abbot, after whom the church at Clachan is named
Kilcalmonell. Before 1753, the parish embraced the eastern as well as the western half of
North Kintyre, and so included Crossaig. Colman Ela was born in 555 and died in 611.

I have myself recently had an opportunity of examining a copy of McClure's "Historical

Church Atlas" in Map XI. of which Ancient Monasteries are shown at "Crusay" and
"Sagadule" (Crossaig and Saddell) in Kintyre.

I have also obtained a copy of "Spottiswood's Religious Houses," published in 1734, in

which three Augustinian Monasteries in the County of Argyll are mentioned — "Crusay,
Oronsay and Colunsay," all "in The Western Isles."

Crusay and Oronsay are called cells or priories, depending on the Abbey of Holy Rood
House, Edinburgh, and the Canons of Colunsay were brought from Holy Rood House, which,
of course, was itself also an Augustinian House.

It indeed appears doubtful if Spottiswood himself had any idea where exactly "in the
Western Isles" Crusay was situated, and he bestows upon this Monastery the shortest
notice of all to which he refers.
No doubt its isolated situation on the east coast of Kintyre, before the advent of the motor
car, the sparseness of the population in the neighbourhood, and the disappearance of any
local records, have contributed to that all but complete
oblivion into which this very Ancient Monastery of "Crusay" in Kintyre has fallen, and even if
we can discover but little of its long and fateful story, we may, at least, be very sure, that
for long centuries through the misty ages of the olden time, many generations of pious
workers were well content to devote their lifes and their labours to the service of God, in
this hallowed spot, by the Banks of Crossaig Water, in the "Island of Kintyre."



In the neighbourhood of Torrisdale Castle, in a wood known as "The Caibeal Wood," and not
far from the north bank of Torrisdale Water, which gently gurgles by, lies a small secluded
graveyard, now a private one, in which are a goodly number of ancient time-worn
tombstones, and which is known as "The Caibeal." The old graveyard was apparently of
much greater extent in former times.

Caibeal itself is the Gaelic for a Chapel, and it would seem to be practically certain that
some foundations met with, and some raised portions of the enclosure, point to the former
existence of a chapel here also. Major Macalister Hall, the proprietor is convinced that an
old bridge, which spans the water nearby, has been largely at least built from its derelict
stones, although no mention of the Chapel itself is recorded, so far as is known. In the
Parish of Saddell and Skipness no other Subsidiary Chapels can now be recognised.

Gigha - East Window and Font


"This Parish consists of the islands of Gigha, Cara, and Gigalum, lying off Runahuran Point,
on the West Coast of Kintyre," according to the writer of "Origines Parochiales Scotiae." To
visit those one must go by ferry-boat — now a motor one from Tayinloan, and on visiting
them I was accompanied by three lady members of The Kintyre Antiquarian Society. Having
selected a day which proved an ideal one for the purpose, the excursion furnished us
indeed with a delightful experience, never to be forgotten.


We first directed our course to Cara, generally supposed, because of its figure resembling
the form of a dead warrior lying on his back, to mean a corpse, but more probably of Norse
derivation and meaning a rough island.

We landed at the little "Port na Cille" near the north end of the island, the port or harbour of
the cell or church, although Dr Cameron Gillies, in his "Place Names of Argyll," makes the
entirely unwarrantable assertion "there is no indication of an old church." Had he landed
here he would very soon have found it as we did, its remains lying beside the old white
house, which stands up so commandingly on the island, near this landing place.

Although at the time of our visit without a human inhabitant, and in a state of internal
disorder, which sorely distressed the orderly soul of one of us, this house on Cara was
long inhabited by a family with which I was acquainted, and it even afforded, I was
informed, a quiet and peaceful retreat in his younger days, for no less distinguished and
honoured a Scotsman than the present Primate of All England, who frequently, in his more
mature years, finds rest and quiet on the mainland opposite.
The much dilapidated ruins of the little Chapel lie just to the north of this dwelling, being
about 26 feet long and 12 feet broad. In the north wall could still be recognised the ancient
doorway, but it was not so easy to trace the three little flat-headed windows, one in each
side wall and one in the west gable.

Embedded in the south wall was a block of red sandstone, with some figures and writing
which we could not completely decipher.

At one side of the house door we found a large irregular hollowed out stone, which is, no
doubt, the "Holy Water Stoup," referred to by some writers as once lying within the church.

We saw no sculptured stones in the neighbourhood, although tradition says that a priest
who once officiated in the Chapel lies buried in the north-west angle.

Cara is referred to as early as 1549 by Dean Monro as "ane little isle with a chapel in it". In
1700 this was named "Cella Sanctissima Trinitatis" the Most Holy Cell of the Trinity — but
His Grace the Duke of Argyll is able to go further back still, having in his possession an
ancient petition by Sir Gilbert McBean, Priest of Moray, and others, to John of Isla, Earl of
Ross, prepared "in the island of Kara beside the Monkshaven, on the 9th June, 1456."

According to the Duke, the Chapel was named after St Finia or Finnlugh, to whom Finlaggan
in Islay is also dedicated, information which appears to clear up the dubiety as to its
founder, referred to by Father Hay, when he says of Cara "Ubi Cella Sanctissima Trinitatis.
Quis fundaverit primam indubis est."

We failed to see any sheep or even goats, which are said to inhabit some parts of the little
isle, only one tiny rabbit — presumably a descendant of one of the "cunnings" referred to
by Dean Monro in 1549.

The famous "Brownie's Chair," situated near the south end of the island, and in its day as
firmly believed in as the "Wishing Chair" at the Giant's Causeway, we had no time to "visit,
and, in any case, the palmy days of the dynasty of the Cara Brownie, are now well nigh


Boarding the waiting ferry-boat at the old Monkshaven, we next crossed the little Sound of
Cara, and landed at Gigha pier, under the shelter of Gigalum. From this we made our way
on foot along the one main road on the island northwards. On the gloriously fine day the
climate seemed extraordinarily mild and the vegetation of almost exotic luxuriance. The
heat was indeed somewhat oppressive, but at length we arrived at the side road leading up
to the ancient chapel and graveyard of Gigha, finding that both were being well cared for.

The Chapel stands near the head of Ardminish Bay, not far from the centre of the island,
and is a dedication to St. Cathan, already referred to in connection with Kilchattan in the
Parish of Southend, and Kilkeddan in that of Campbeltown.

The remains measure 33 feet by 15 feet, the west end having largely disappeared. The
Chapel was in recent times repaired, particularly the east gable wall. In this the east
window is complete, being of narrow lancet shape, and the remains of a small window are
found in either side wall towards the east end.

The door was apparently in the south-west. There was no sign of an altar, although Martin
says there was one at the time of his visit, but the most outstanding object of interest in
this Chapel, described by frequent writers, is still found there. This is the "font," as it is
commonly called, nearly octagonal in shape, two feet in diameter externally, one and a half
internally, 8 inches deep, and 4 inches thick at the bottom. Martin adds the further correct
information that "it hath a small hole in the middle which goes quite through it." It lies at
the base of the east window, which is not its proper place. If a font, this hole must have
been plugged up when in use, and its place would have been near the door. If a piscina, as
some think, its proper place would have been to the south of the altar.

When visited by Pennant, a few sculptured stones lay around the old Chapel, but these
have seemingly been collected and placed together in an enclosure outwith the church, and
the sculptures are for the most part effaced by time and exposure. The surrounding
graveyard bears evidence of care and attention, particularly a locked up enclosure where
the McNeill's, the ancient Lairds of Gigha lie buried.

The old church which succeeded the ancient chapel lay immediately opposite the present
inn. It was built in 1780, and demolished on the erection of the present church — a very
dainty up-to-date one — a few years ago.
Apropos to the intimate and immemorial association of Cara with its own special "Brownie,"
and of Gigha with its no less famed "Witches," it is curiously suggestive to find that, just
within the gate of the avenue which leads up to the new church, a small rowan bush has
been planted on either side, a sure and unfailing means, according to the teachings of
Highland Superstition, to keep these witches away.

It is recorded that in 1510 James IV presented Angus Makkane to the Rectory of St Cathan,
in Gigha, which was vacant by the death of Sir John Judge.

Having completed our short survey of the Ancient Chapels of Cara and Gigha, we enjoyed a
refreshing cup of tea at the one and only inn in the islands, and re-embarking on the
waiting ferry-boat, rapidly crossed the smooth and smiling sound, lit up into shining
splendour by the golden glories of the evening sun.

On the road home we were privileged to enjoy one of the superb sunsets of Western
Kintyre, and the great blood red orb of dying day, had all but sunk into the wild western
waste of waters, as we turned away for home, our little party heartily agreeing that never
before had we experienced a more delightful or more profitable "Antiquarian Excursion."

[The End]


Minat Terkait