Cill an Ailean – Glen Aros

Cill an Ailean Chapel, Glen Aros

Cill an Ailean’ means the ‘Chapel of the Beautiful Place’.  It is thought that the chapel was originally dedicated to the Irish St Fillan, who was believed to have miraculous healing powers. 

The remains of this chapel and burial ground lie about 1.8 km WNW of Aros Castle, in a large clearing in a Forestry Commission plantation on the north slope of Glen Aros.  The outline of a chapel and at least four private burial enclosures can be identified within an irregular enclosure.  The enclosure measures about 60 m from north to south and is bounded by a 19th-century, dry-stone wall.  Despite the fact that the boundary wall is much more recent, the remains within date back to the medieval period.  The Gaelic prefix “Cill” is old and could date it back to before 800 CE, but, as yet, there is no written or archaeological evidence to substantiate this.

The chapel is oblong and is aligned east to west.  It measures 1.1 m by 5.2 m within walls 1.0 m thick, standing to a maximum height of 0.9 m.  The entrance was towards the west end of the south wall.  Two 13th-century, carved sandstone fragments were found in the burial ground, and appear to have belonged either to the door or a window of the chapel.

One of the oldest of the surviving tombstones is a 2 m long stone slab lying flat inside the chapel and dating to the 14th or 15th century.   Designs carved into the stone include a cross and a sword.  There are many upstanding headstones with different designs and inscriptions, mostly dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.  The last burial recorded on a tombstone is Catherine MacLean in 1925.

                         Grid Reference NM 545 455