Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On Roads to the Isles - 3

A visit to the 12th century Kilmory Knap Chapel is a long detour off the road to Crinan and the isles, but it's worth it. To get to it from Daltote (see March 15th post), continue south on the single track for another seven miles. 

Kilmory Knap Chapel
Like many of the 'mory' place-name dedications, Kilmory Chapel is dedicated to St Mealrubha. St Mealrubha founded a monastery at Applecross around the year 673, which is where he died at the age of 80 in the year 722. During those years his work took him all along the west coast of Scotland and the isles as far north as Lewis, and so the church he established at Kilmory Knap predates the chapel ruin you see today by nearly 500 years. Places dedicated to Mealrubha abound and, to me, the most interesting is little Isle Maree in Loch Maree. (See the June 24, 2014 post for a visit to Isle Maree.) 

Inside Kilmory Chapel you will find an amazing assortment of carved West Highland tombstones and crosses. 

The most impressive stone is the 15th century MacMillan Cross, dedicated to Alexander MacMillan, the keeper of nearby Castle Sween. One side of the cross depicts the crucification, the other a deer hunting scene with dogs (the huntsman on the cross may be Alexander MacMillan). The cross stood outside the chapel on a pedestal for 500 years or so, until being moved inside in 1981.

The MacMillian Cross
From Kilmory there is an amazing view west to Jura and the MacCormaig isles. On the largest of the Macormaig's is the chapel and cave of St Charmaig (see book 2, chapter 4). It was the road to those isles that first took me to Kilmory.

Jura and the MacCormaig Isles
The MacCormaig Isles
A mile beyond Kilmory you will reach the end of the public road, and the start of the private track to Ellary. Although the road is private, you can still walk it. A treasure lies down this road, for hidden in the forest is the ancient burial ground of Cladh a' Bhile, where you'll find an incredible assortment of carved cross-stones and some more recent graves. When I visited the burial ground it did not even occur to me that I'd need to ask permission. I just went there (it was hard to find, as it's in heavy woodland about 300 meters off the track). Since then I've learned that all who do ask permission to see this historic site are turned away, including someone who just wanted to take a photo of a tombstone in the burial ground as part of the War Graves photographic project. Although they eventually managed to get one (see this War Graves page).

See this Historic Scotland page for more information on Kilmory.

No comments:

Post a Comment