Burial Grounds

There are many churches, chapels and burial-grounds on Mull and Iona that are considered worthy of preservation by the Commissioners of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.  The following are the places on which we have insufficient information to warrant a separate entry at present:

Bunessan, Kilpatrick – burial ground

‘Kilpatrick’ means ‘chapel of Patrick’, but there is no recorded evidence that a church existed here, and no remains have been found.

The burial ground is situated on the seaward (north) side of the A849 about 4.3 km east of Bunessan.  The route of the old road passes around the north side of the burial ground, where a small car parking area is provided.

A drawing of this site was made in 1700 by Edward Lhuyd or one of his assistants, showing a sub-rectangular enclosure, but its relationship to the existing enclosure is uncertain.  This drawing also shows what may be a memorial cairn and a cross-base, but the earliest identifiable tombstones are early 18th century.

The graveyard is rectangular and measures about 52 m by 21 m.  Surrounded by a stone wall, it is divided into two sections.  The eastern, larger section contains mostly older graves.  The western, smaller section is, presumably, an extension built because the older section was full.  It contains more recent graves.

There are a wide variety of monuments varying from elaborate table tombs with enclosures to simple stone markers.  The oldest remaining inscriptions are from 1776 and 1780, whilst the most recent is 2006.  The majority of memorials record the deaths of local residents, but there are also commemorations for deaths overseas, the graves of three unknown merchant seamen killed in 1940, and of three soldiers killed in the two world wars.  A variety of local occupations are also recorded.

For detail of the grave markers and inscriptions see: J Clare, Kilpatrick Burial Ground, Ross of Mull Historical Centre.

Grid Reference NM 419 235

Calgary – Killantringan (local name) – burial ground

Situated on the level ground at the head of Calgary Bay, this burial ground was formerly known as ‘Clad Mhuire’, meaning St Mary’s burial ground.  Many religious places were renamed and, often, a Celtic saint’s name was replaced with that of the Virgin Mary.  This burial ground was originally named ‘St Ninian’s Cell’ or ‘Cill’ Shaint Truinnean’.

It is surrounded by a fairly new, lime-mortared stone wall.  However, two Early Christian grave-markers, both of which have been re-used as headstones, confirm that is of ancient origin.  One is a stone 0.68 m long by 0.14 m wide and has an incised cross on each side.  It is probably the upper part of a much taller stone. The second, a pillar-stone, is 1.27 m long by 0.27 m wide and has been trimmed to a point at the foot.  On both sides are interesting cross-decorations.

There are no other visible memorials earlier than 1707.

See also: Brown, et al., Gus Am Bris An La, the Burial Grounds of Kilninian, Kilmore, Treshnish, Calgary, Ulva & Gometra in North Mull, 2006.

Grid Reference NM 375 511

Carsaig – St Mary’s Chapel (Site) and burial ground

The site of an ancient chapel in an old burial ground lies a short distance south west of Pennycross House.  No remains of the chapel are now visible.  It is believed to have been demolished in 1825.  However, the surrounding wall, which enclosed the burial ground, contains numerous fragments of local sandstone, one of which has been identified as part of a window-jamb of medieval type.  In addition a number of worked stones have been incorporated into a wall in the garden east of Carsaig House.  One of these, a 0.45 m wide octagonal sandstone block, has been hollowed out to form a bowl and may have been a font.

In the burial ground there is an Early Christian cross-decorated stone, which has been used as a headstone. It is made of slate and measures 0.68 m by 0.23 m.  There is an incised Latin cross on both sides of the stone.

The earliest post-reformation tombstones are early 19th century.

When this site was visited in 1875 by the Ordnance Survey they were shown a ‘slight hollow in the ground’ in the field east of the burial ground, which was known as ‘St Mary’s Well’.  The well is believed to have been open until the early 19th century and to possess therapeutic qualities.  Unfortunately, its exact position can no longer be identified.

Grid Reference NM  538 217

Cillchriosd (Church of Christ) or Kilchrist – Nr Langamull – burial ground

This burial ground lies on a level platform of land about 100 m south east of Cillchriosd Farmhouse.

Tradition has it that this was the burial place of St Christopher and a chapel is reputed to have stood here.  However, there are no visible remains.

A dry-stone wall encloses a roughly circular area some 25 m in diameter. The wall is best preserved on the south side, where its thickness is 1 m.  Inside the enclosure there are traces of a structure measuring about 9 m by 6 m, but it does not appear to be ecclesiastical in origin.

Grid Reference NM 376 534

Crackaig – Chapel and burial ground

These remains lie just below the ruins of the former village of Crackaig and consist of the footings of a small oblong building of dry-stone construction within a D-shaped enclosure.  There is no recorded history, but the general character of the remains suggest that this was a medieval chapel.

The remains of the chapel are sparse.  It was oriented east-west and measured about 5.2 m by 3.3 m internally.  The walls were about 1.3 m thick with the entrance on the west wall.

The burial ground is sub-oval and quite large.  It measures about 16 m by 25 m and the entrance is directly opposite that of the church.  The surrounding wall is now reduced to a spread of rubble with an average width of 2 m and stands up to 1 m high.  It is overlain to the ESE by an old field wall.  Although there are a number of stones protruding through the grass within the enclosure, there is no evidence that they are grave stones.

Grid Reference NM 351 459

Craignure, Cnoc nan Cubairean – burial ground

This burial ground is situated in a large clearing on a knoll close to the northern boundary fence of a Forestry Commission plantation south west of Java Lodge on the south-east slope of Cnoc nan Cubairean.  It is alternatively known as ‘Allt a’ Chlada’ or ‘Port na Luinge’.

It is a small, roughly-pentagonal enclosure about 30 m across and surrounded by the turf-covered remains of a 1.0 m thick, dry-stone wall.  It contains several rough grave-markers.  In the south-west area of the enclosure are a group of four large recumbent slate slabs, one of which was erected by Hector Allan to commemorate his father George who died at Scallasdale in 1799.

Grid Reference NM 710 376

Garmony, Lag na Cille – burial ground

This ancient burial ground is situated in a clearing of a mature Forestry Commission plantation about a quarter of a mile north of Garmony.

Although the name ‘Cille’ implies that it was once associated with a chapel sited on or near the site, nothing remains on the ground to verify this.  All that remains are the footings of a dry-stone wall forming an enclosure about 14 m square.  There is no recorded history, but it evidently served a number of deserted villages between Garmony and Fishnish Point.

The last burial took place in the 19th century, but the burial ground is said to have been out of use for a long period prior to this.

Grid Reference NM 671 406

Glenbyre – St Columba’s Well (Tobar Choluim Chille)

This is a small, fresh-water spring situated immediately to the east of the old track from Lochbuie to Carsaig, and about 1 km north east of Glenbyre.  It is still used occasionally and maybe the well at Loch Buie, the medicinal properties of which are mentioned in a late 17th century topographical account of the area.  The OS Name Book of 1878 indicates that Uamh a’ Chrabhaiche (the cave of the devout person) is near the well, but its exact location is now lost.

Grid Reference NM 590 243

Glencannel – burial ground

This site lies at the head of Loch Ba.  It is a sub-rectangular enclosure measuring 22 m from north to south, and is reputed to have been a chapel and burial ground.  The chapel and the east half of the burial ground have been destroyed by the construction of a large, 19th-century sheepfold.

The only visible remains are the south wall and part of the north wall, which survive as stony mounds about 1.2 m thick and 0.4 m high.  In the remaining part of the burial ground are a few rough grave markers and a five unnamed slabs.  Next to these graves are the remains of a small rectangular enclosure, measuring some 5 m from WNW to ESE by 3 m transversely. This has been too badly damaged to be identifiable as an associated structure.

Grid Reference NM 600 345

Glenforsa, Cuil Mhurchaidh – long-cist burials

These burials lie about 460 m west of Glenforsa Hotel on an area of level ground.

They were discovered while ploughing was taking place in the 1960s.  A number of graves, oriented east to west in two rows running north to south, were exposed about 30 cm below ground level.  Although the side slabs had collapsed, the capstones were still in place.

One grave was fully excavated.  It was 1.9 m long and about 60 cm wide, and roughly lined with small stone slabs, but no identifiable remains were found.  Although there are no records of any ecclesiastical associations with this site, the character of the graves suggests a date in the Early Christian or medieval period.

The excavation has been completely filled in and no evidence of the graves can now be seen on the ground.

Grid Reference NM 588 429

Gometra – Bail a’ Chlaidh – burial ground

Situated close to a small settlement and landing place on the west shore of the south anchorage between Gometra and Ulva, this former burial ground is unenclosed except for a curving bank of turf defining its east boundary.

The earliest identifiable tomb stone is dated 1792.  There is also a small iron-railed enclosure containing headstones commemorating Donald Lamont, ‘late merchant of Ulva’, who died in 1805, and his descendants.

See also: Brown, et al., Gus Am Bris An La, the Burial Grounds of Kilninian, Kilmore, Treshnish, Calgary, Ulva & Gometra in North Mull, 2006

Grid Reference NM 369 404

Kellan – burial ground

Alternative names for this site are ‘Kilhoubil’, a settlement named on Pont’s 16th century map, and ‘Killyphupill’, the same settlement on an estate map of 1770.  The burial ground lies in the settlement’s vicinity.

There are no identifiable remains of the graveyard, but in 1878 it was reported that human bones had been discovered ‘a few years ago’ during timber operations in Kellan Wood.  No information is available on when the burial ground was in use.

Grid Reference NM 529 414

Kilbrenan – burial ground

This site lies NNW of Kilbrennan Farmhouse, Loch Tuath, on the seaward side of the road.

All that remains is a curving bank of turf, about 0.6 m high, forming the eastern half of a boundary, and from which an occasional stone projects.  The enclosure seems to have been circular and about 24 m in diameter.

There are no visible grave-markers or internal features, but a low mound on an east-west axis may represent the side wall of a chapel.

The dedication is believed to have been to St Brendan and the site is also known as St Brendan’s Chapel.

Grid Reference NM 439 429

Killbeg – burial ground

This burial ground lies about 30 m south east of the shepherd’s cottage at Killbeg, Glen Forsa.

Traces of a stony bank, about 1.5 m wide and 0.4 m high, form an roughly oval enclosure about 23 m wide.  The north and west parts of the site are overlain by a 19th century sheepfold and in the south west by a small, modern, rectangular building.  There are no visible grave-markers.

In 1872, when the site was inspected by the officers of the Ordnance Survey, the burial-round was already in its present condition.  There are no records of its history. The name ‘Kelbeg’ was recorded in 1494 and means ‘the little chapel’.

Grid Reference NM 603 414

Killunaig – burial ground

This burial ground lies about 130 m ENE of Killunaig farm on the landward side of the A849 between Pennyghael and Bunessan.  It was probably dedicated to St Findoca, although Sennan has also been suggested.

The existing dry-stone boundary wall is 19th century.  The earliest visible monument is a large Carsaig-sandstone table-tomb, which stands inside the MacLean’s of Pennycross burial enclosure.  It was erected in memory of Charles Maclean of Killinaigg who died in 1743 and his wife Margaret, sister of Donald MacLean of Torloisk, by their sons, Hector and Alexander.

This graveyard appears to be associated with the Free Church of 1840 (and with Barlass (Brolass) Free Church) west of Pennyghael, but this may well have been the parish church to start with.

Grid Reference NM 495 256

Kinloch – burial ground

Situated on sloping ground near the Kinloch Hotel at the head of Loch Scridain, this rectangular enclosure measures about 18 m by 16 m and is surrounded by a ruinous dry-stone wall some 1.1 m thick.  The footings of a small rectangular burial-aisle can be seen near the centre of the enclosure and the remains of others can also be identified.  The only visible monument is a sandstone headstone erected in 1775 by Donald Shaw a joiner in Brolas, to his parents John Shaw, who died in 1735, and Mearion McArthur. Carved on the front of the stone is a shield, on the right of which is a hand holding an axe, and carved above are a carpenter’s square and compass and the motto ‘IN GOD WE TRU(ST)’.

Grid Reference NM 535 282

Knock – burial ground

This burial ground lies between Knock and the east shore of Loch na Keal, 350 m WNW of Knock House.

Situated on the summit of a small knoll, this is a square enclosure surrounded by a substantial 19th century wall.  The earliest legible headstone is carved in relief with a winged angel’s head and commemorates Florans Moreson who died in 1745.

See also: Whittaker et al., Altera Merces: The Burial Grounds of Pennygown, Gruline, Knock, Cill an Alein in North Mull, 2003

Grid Reference NM 540 391

Laorin Bay – burial ground (site)

This site lies at the head of Laurin Bay, Mingary.  All that can be seen is an irregular, 18 m enclosure bounded by the turf-covered remains of a dry-stone wall standing about 0.6 m high.  There is a possible entrance near the centre of the north-west side.  No grave-markers are visible.

Grid Reference Nm 426 568

Lephin – burial ground (site)

Alternatively known as Port Cill Bhraonain, this site lies to the west of the Allt nan Leth-pheighinn north of Sorne on the road between Tobermory and Glengorm Castle.  The name Port Cill Bhraonain probably derives from Kilbrenan, indicating that a chapel dedicated to St Brendan lay in the vicinity.

The fragmentary remains of an earth-and-stone bank enclose an area measuring 28 m by 21 m and containing the turf-covered foundations of two buildings.  The larger of the two is 8.5 m by 4.6 m within walls about 0.9 thick.  The other, which has rounded angles, is situated about 2.0 m to the west and at right angles.

Although this was identified by the Ordnance Survey in 1875 as a burial ground, the remains appear to be more of a dwelling-house and outbuilding with a cultivation-patch.

Grid Reference NM 445 572

Lochdonhead, Kilpatrick – burial ground

This burial ground lies north of the road between the A849 and Duart Castle.  The name suggests that this may be the site of an early chapel dedicated to St Patrick, but the current graveyard contains no identifiable tombstones earlier that 1707.

Grid Reference NM 740 344

Port a’ Chlaidh – burial ground

This burial ground is situated close to the north shore of Loch na Keal and is a roughly oblong enclosure measuring about 21 m by 12 m transversely within a dry-stone wall about 1 m thick. The interior is overgrown, but a few plain, stone grave-markers can be seen.  Near the centre of the enclosure is a low circular mound about 2 m in diameter.

About 100 m to the south east is Port a’ Chlaidh (‘harbour of the burial-ground’) and a roughly constructed pier which was probably used by funeral parties.

The site has no recorded history, but is believed to have fallen into disuse by the mid 19th century.

Grid Reference NM 458 393

Ulva – Cill Mhic Eoghainn (Kilviceon)- burial ground

The name of this burial ground, which lies on the south coast of Ulva, first appears on record as ‘Kilvc Ewyn’ in 1630 when it refered to an associated township.  It has been suggested that it was dedicated to Ernan son of Eoghan, a nephew of St Columba, as is that of the parish church of Kilvickeon.

It measures 35 m from north to south by 22 m, is rectangular and is surrounded by a 19th century dry-stone wall.  However, turf-covered banks can be identified intermittently outside the current wall.  These mark an older boundary, which define a somewhat larger, roughly circular enclosure.

At the highest point there is a rectangular enclosure of lime-mortared rubble masonry, the only entrance being an opening on the east wall, which forms part of the perimeter of the burial ground.  It contains a slate headstone erected in 1791 by Hector McQuarie, Soriby, to mark his burial place.  The walls of this enclosure appear to stand on more substantial footings, which may incorporate some fragments of an earlier church, which was referred to by Dr Johnson in 1773.

The main burial ground contains many simple, uninscribed grave stones.  The earliest inscribed headstone is that of John McGuire of Balligarten in 1765.  He was a grandson of Donald MacQuarrie, 12th of Ulva.

See also: Brown, et al., Gus Am Bris An La, the Burial Grounds of Kilninian, Kilmore, Treshnish, Calgary, Ulva & Gometra in North Mull, 2006

Grid reference NM 395 389