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Ancient Churches and Chapels of Kintyre - T. Harvey Thomson | Columba | Religion And Belief

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The following is a short account of the old churches and chapels of Kintyre, all the churches and all but two or three of the most inaccessible chapels were personally visited by the author and what must be rare, even that on the island of Cara. Here too is the suggestion 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 and, after remaining with him for some time, Columba again took to sea, and passing north through the Sound of Islay, landed in Colonsay, where he also spent some months.
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  Dunaverty Rock from the sea THE ANCIENT CHURCHES AND CHAPELS OF KINTYRE by T. HARVEY THOMSON, M.D., D.P.H.  The following is a short account of the old Churches and Chapels of Kintyre, which suchdetails of their history andand 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 StatisticalAccount of Scotland , published in 1845; Origines Parochiales by Cosmo Innes, as well asnumerous 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 beenpersonally 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 thisaccount. [In the srcinal typed volume in the library of The Kintyre Antiquarian Society,there are over seventy srcinal photographic illustrations, which must enhance its value. Inthis booklet expense limits the number]. The ruins are not, it is considered, as a rule, earlier than the 13th century, although, inmany cases, they may be descendants of earlier ones, even in some cases, replacing theprimitive churches of wattles , which formed the srcinal dedication. CONTENTSPARISH OF SOUTHEND Churches- 1Kilcolmkill- 2KilblaanChapels- 3St Ninian's, Sanda- 4Nameless Chapel, Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse Road- 5Lag-na-cloiche or Kattikill- 6Caibel Carrine- 7St. Coivin's, Macharioch- 8Kilirvan or Kilcalmonell- 9Kilchattan-10Caibel Innean Coig Cailleach-11Kilbride-12Kilinashenachan-13Kildavie1  PARISH OF CAMPBELTOWN Churches- 1Kilkerran- 2Kilmichael- 3Kilchousland- 4KilkivanChapels- 5Killellan- 6Kilwhipnach- 7Kilchrist- 8Uigle (at Achadh an t-sagairt)- 9Killeonan-10Kildonald   (or Kildonnan)-11Kilkeddan PARISH OF KILLEAN AND KILKENZIE Churches- 1Kilkenzie- 2Kilmarow or Kilarrow- 3KilleanChapels- 4Kilmaho- 5Killocraw- 6Killagruar- 7Kilmaluag- 8Chapel - Loch na Cain PARISH OF KILCALMONELL AND KILBERCY  Churches- 1KilcalmonellChapels- 2Chadh Bhride- 3Kilmichael - at Ballochroy- 4Cladh Mhiceil and Kilchamaig PARISH OF SADDELL and SKIPNESS Church- 1Saddell Abbey- 2Kilbrannan (Chapel)- 3Crossaig or Crusay MonasteryChapel- 4The Caibeal, Torrisdale. PARISH OF GIGHA AND CARA Church- 1GighaChapel- 2Cara PHOTOGRAPHS 1Dunaverty- from Sea2Kilcolmkill- Dean Howson's Cross3Sanda- St. Ninian's Cross4Kilmichael- Fragment Sculptured Stone (Photograph Missing)5Kilchousland- Window showing McNinian's Point6Kilchousland- Interior West   Wall7Killean- Sculptured Stones8Saddell Abbey- Sculptured Stones9Kilbrannan Chapel- Main Door2  10Gigha- East Window and Font PARISH OF SOUTHEND  This comprises the two ancient parishes of Kilcolmkill and Kilblaan, which were united by aCommission of Parlianient in the year 1617. It also srcinally 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 tobe 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 notrace now remains, formerly existed in the parish. Kilcolmkill - Dean Howson's CrossKILCOLMKILL Picturesquely nestling in a quiet sequestered nook under the shelter of the tall bluff of KeilPoint, this is situated close to the seashore about a mile from the village of Southend, inview of the coast of Northern Ireland, the old Scotia from which the early Dalriadiccolonists srcinally crossed to Kintyre. Sanda, lacking neither in sarced nor in secularassociations of historic importance, the rugged ancient keep of Dunaverty of ghastlymemory, the familiar Paddy's Milestone , Ailsa Craig) raising its obtrusive hump in themiddle 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 Christianitypromulgated at a yery early date, but which also owned a by no means inconsiderableamount of valuable land and property in South Kintyre.According to the careful measurements of Captain White, the walls of this ancient churchare 73 feet 9 inches long, 19 feet broad, and 2½ feet thick (external measurements). Hepoints out a curious discrepancy in the width of the end walls, the west gable being 4inches shorter than the east, a discrepancy also strangely enough met with in SkipnessChapel. The building is exceptional in that the length so greatly exceeds the breadth, and about 30feet from the east end of the north wall there is a very distinct vertical line of junction; the3  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 atsome 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, hediscovered built into the outside face of the east gable wall, a moulded fragment, which, inall 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 roundMcDonald of Sanda's burial place.It was the couplet arch head of this small window, divided into two by a single pentagonalshaft, and its presence in such a situation implies that this gable must have been built sinceReformation times, as only, it is urged, by those hostile or indifferent to the precious relicsof mediaeval sculpture could such a degrading solecism in ecclesiological coustruction orrestoration have been perpetrated or permitted. The presence of some sculpturedfragments of stone at the base of the north wall near its eastern end, fragments obviouslyof a former erection, also support such a view. The addition may have been made after the union of the srcinal parishes of Kilcolmkill,Kilblaan and Kilkivan, in 1617, the church being found too small for the combinedcongregations, and the Presbytery Records indicate that the church continued in use forsome 50 years after this date. A similar union, even more distinct, is found in the north wallof the church at Kilchousland, whatever the explanation may be. The external walls of Kilcolmkill are, comparatively speaking complete, standing about 10feet high, with obtuse angled gables, whose apices were about 15 feet in height, althoughthe 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 inthe north wall near the east end. With rounded top it is 4 feet high, and 8 inches broadexternally, splaying out, however, to a width of 4 feet on the inside. Just opposite to this is asimilar window in the south wall, another further to the west being now built up. In theseancient 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, around headed one, 2½ feet wide externally, and splayed also to 4 feet within. Its height isnow only 4½ feet above ground level, so that now at least one must perforce bend the heador bow the knee on entering the sacred edifice. The interior, where of old the rude fore-fathers of the surrounding district were wont humblyto stand, while the cure or care of their spiritual affairs was being attended to, is now, likethe surrounding graveyard itself, a place of tombs and monuments all bearing terse storiesin stone of their silent occupants.Beside the west gable is a railed off enclosure with tablets commemorative of the oldMcLartys of Keil, and built into the east wall is a tombstone, sculptured with the cusomaryskull and cross-bones of the period, in memory of Neil McNeil of Carskiey, who departedthis lyfe on the 30th October, 1685.  The churchyard itself is enclosed with a well-constructed stone wall, built in the year 1857by 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 insimple alb, the other the Kilblaan Stone, with more pretentious chasuble in addition, andtwo are memorials of ancient warriors.4
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