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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.

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.

  • 9.1 St Columba’s Church, Isle of Lewis

    This late 14th century church - named after St Columba - was later extended in the 15th and 16th century. St Columba’s was the principal church on Lewis in medieval times. It was built by the MacLeods and dedicated to Colmcille. Its importance may have been connected to its position...

  • 9.2 St Moluag’s Chapel, Eoropie, Isle of Lewis

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  • 9.3 St. John’s Chapel, Bragar, Isle of Lewis

    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. The ruins of the chapel lie within a graveyard that is still in use today. The building was in two parts -...

  • 9.4 Uig Peninsula, Isle of Lewis

    Taigh a’Bheannaich, Gallan Head, Aird, Uig The name of this chapel translates as ‘House of the Blessed or the Benediction’. It’s unusual because it is not dedicated to an individual saint. Unlike many of the other locations on this trail, the chapel is high on a cliff rather than being...

  • 9.7 St Clements, Rodel, Isle of Harris

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  • 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. The remains of the church on the island probably date from the 12th century. Any earlier church...

  • 9.8 Church of the Holy Trinity, Carnish, North Uist

    Teampull na Trianaid (Church of the Holy Trinity) 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. There was probably a series of settlements on this site before the chapel...

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  • 9.10 Howmore, South Uist

    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. In among the thatched houses of Howmore are the ruins of a church and four chapels. Writing in 1703 in his...

  • 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. Parts of...


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