9.5 Teampall Chaluim Chille, Eilean Chaluim Chille, Isle of Lewis

The small island of Eilean Chaluim Chille has probably been connected with Christianity since the 7th century. It sits on the eastern extremity of Loch Erisort as it leads out to the Minch.

Loch Erisort © Cat

The remains of the church on the island probably date from the 12th century. Any earlier church would have been made of turf, peat or wood so there would be no remains. Archaeologists have found pre-Christian, Christian and Norse remains here.

The church was dedicated to Colmcille - hence the name of the island. Local stories tell how the island was home to a monastery and a priest’s house. In 1549, Sir Donald Munro visited the island and described seeing an orchard there. When he visited the Hebrides in the late 17th century, Martin Martin mentions a church on the island of St Columkil.

The church was a rectangular shape but there may have been other buildings nearby. An area of the east of the island is called Crois Eilean and may mark the edge of the area under the church’s protection.

The graveyard was used until the 19th century for the whole Parish of Lochs. An account of the island was written by John Sands in 1876 in his book ‘Out of the World’ or ‘Life in St Kilda’,

‘Captain M’Donald took me in his gig to see a churchyard situated on an island called St Colm. It is quite close to the water, and is about sixty feet square...Although there seems to be plenty of suitable ground outside, the people persist in interring the dead within the ancient limits. Nay, not interring but piling the coffins one on top of the other, until they have risen to the height of ten feet above the surface. The coffins are not even covered with earth, but are only wrapped in turf.’

On the mainland at Cromor, one of the crofts was known locally as Lios an Teampull or Garden of the Chapel. And there are some local accounts that the priest of St Colm lived here on the mainland.


Getting there

The island of Eilean Chaluim Chille is tidal and can be reached on foot from Crobeg at low tide. The tide is fast running and you must ask local advice about crossing and how long you will be able to spend on the island. Ask at Ravenspoint in Kershader.

From Mealasta retrace your route back to the B8011 at Timsgearraidh, rejoining the A858 at Garynahine. At Acha Mor turn right and shortly after turn right again on to the A859. Drive into Baile Ailein then turn left on the B8060 towards Cearsiadair. Drive along the southern edge of Loch Erisort, turning next left after the turn for Cabharstadh. Follow the road to Cromor, turning left towards Crobeg.

Park at the end of the tarmac road and continue on foot along a unmade road. At the house, bear right towards the old jetty where you should be able to cross. The remains can be found on the southwest corner of the island.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.1 St Columba's Church

    This late 14th century church - named after St Columba - was later extended in the 15th and 16th century.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.2 St Moluag's Chapel

    This restored chapel is dedicated to St Moluag or Moluoc. The building is flanked by two small side chapels to the north and south, creating a T-shaped outline.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.3 St. John's Chapel

    Head west from the crofting township of Bragar to find the medieval chapel of Teampull Eoin - St John The Baptist - on a small headland next to the beach.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.4 Uig Peninsula

    It is worth heading to the Uig Peninsula not only for the sites relating to early Christianity but also for the stunning beaches of Uig and Mangarstadh.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.5 Teampall Chaluim Chille, Eilean Chaluim Chille

    The small island of Eilean Chaluim Chille has probably been connected with Christianity since the 7th century. It sits on the eastern extremity of Loch Erisort as it leads out to the Minch.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.6 Northton Chapel

    Northton Chapel faces south across the Sound of Harris looking towards the Uists. It sits on a small headland - Rubh’ an Teampull - at the foot of Ceapabhal hill.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.7 St Clements

    This is the largest medieval church in the Outer Hebrides. Of all the churches in the islands, only Iona is larger. It was built in the 16th century but there is some suggestion that there may have been an older monastery on the site.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.8 Church of the Holy Trinity

    Teampull na Trianaid sits on a mound beside the village of Carinish. There are views west towards the low-lying island of Baleshare. The remains of the Teampull na Trianaid dominate the site.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.9 Chapel of the Virgin Mary

    The ruined medieval chapel sits in a graveyard which is still in use. The chapel was rectangular and would have had a pitched roof. The walls would have been much higher - you can see the top part of the door in the west wall.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.10 Howmore

    The township of Tobha Mor - or Howmore - lies between the main north-south road on South Uist and the beach which forms much of the island’s west side.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.11 Kilbar Church, Barra

    Cill Bharra is the remains of a 12th century church dedicated to St Barr. The site is thought to have been used for Christian worship since the 600s when there was a chapel here dedicated to St Barr - probably the same saint as St Finbarr of Cork.