6.6 Cholmcille's Chapel & Cave, Ellary.

Loch Caolisport Loch Caolisport

This peaceful location on the shores of Loch Caolisport is said to be where Colmcille stopped for a few days on his journey north from Ireland in 563.

He was seeking a meeting with the local king, Conall mac Comgall, whose chief fort was about 15 miles from here at Dunadd. According to tradition Conall agreed at this meeting to let Colmcille use the island of Iona to create his monastic settlement.

The chapel and cave are only a few metres from the sea loch. The chapel is ruined and overgrown. The cave is almost hidden from view behind the chapel. Follow the path through the grass to the back of the chapel to find the cave.

Colmcille’s cave is 5 metres wide and 18 metres deep, large enough to accommodate a group of people.

On the east side there is a shelf supporting an altar. Above the altar there is a cross carved into the wall. An oval basin has been formed in the rock which would have held holy water.

You may find that visitors to the cave have left offerings on the altar. This is one of the few sites in the area that is used by pilgrims in this way.

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Archaeologists have made finds in this cave dating back to the Mesolithic period (10,000- 4,500BC) - the Middle Stone Age. A stone coffin and two shallow graves have also been discovered here.

You can see some of the finds made here at Kilmartin Museum.

A stone basin from the cave is now used as the font in South Knapdale Parish Church in nearby Achahoish.

The ruins of Colmcille’s Chapel date back to the 13th century but this site was used for worship for centuries before that.

The local parish church in Achahoish organises an annual service at the chapel and cave.

Ellary cave © Alan Sproull
 

Getting there

Heading south from Lochgilphead on the A83, 1-2 miles south of Ardrishaig turn right onto the B8024 - signposted Kilberry - and head to Achahoish. Go through the village, past the church and head on towards Ellary. The chapel and cave are signposted on the right hand side of the road.

Just past the chapel and cave, the road enters private land. If you wish to visit Kilmory Knap Chapel, you will need to re-trace your route back up the B8024 and approach from Achnamara via the B841 road to Crinan.

The ground near the chapel and the cave is often damp so waterproof footwear is recommended.


 
   
  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.
     

    6.1 Dunadd

    Colmcille is thought to have visited the king of the Dál Riata at Dunadd when he first arrived in Argyll.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.
     

    6.2 Kilmartin Museum

    Kilmartin House Museum is housed in the former manse of Killmartin Church at the centre of Kilmartin village. Kilmartin Glen has an extraordinarily rich collection of 350 ancient monuments, all found within a six-mile radius of the museum.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.
     

    6.3 Kilmartin Church

    Kilmartin Glen is the site of more than 350 ancient monuments. These sites - which include 150 prehistoric monuments - lie within a six-mile radius of Kilmartin village.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    6.4 Keills Chapel

    The chapel is home to a large collection of early and late medieval stones. The most striking is the Keills Cross which stands 2 metres tall.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    6.5 Kilmory Knap Chapel

    Kilmory Knap Chapel was built in the first half of the 13th century and now houses a collection of early and late medieval gravestones and cross-slabs which used to be in the church and graveyard.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    6.6 Chapel & Cave, Ellary

    This peaceful location on the shores of Loch Caolisport is said to be where Colmcille stopped for a few days on his journey north from Ireland in 563.

  • Southend. Argyll, Scotland.
     

    6.7 Southend

    Southend is said to be Colmcille’s first landing place in Scotland. He left Derry on the north coast of Ireland in 563 with 12 companions and landed here before heading up the Argyll coast to meet the king of the Dál Riata.