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Canna, A' Chill

Burial Ground (Post Medieval), Cave (Period Unknown), Chapel (Period Unknown)(Possible), Cross Incised Stone(S) (Early Medieval)

Site Name Canna, A' Chill

Classification Burial Ground (Post Medieval), Cave (Period Unknown), Chapel (Period Unknown)(Possible), Cross Incised Stone(S) (Early Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Keill

Canmore ID 10698

Site Number NG20NE 13

NGR NG 2691 0543

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/10698

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Small Isles
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Inverness-shire

EARLY MEDIEVAL CARVED STONES PROJECT

A’ Chill 14 (St Columba), Canna, Skye & Lochalsh, cross-slab

Measurements: 0.25m in diameter

Stone type: Torridonian sandstone

Place of discovery: NG 2691 0543

Present location: in Canna House.

Evidence for discovery: found in the burial ground at A’ Chill in 2012.

Present condition: weathered.

Description

This small beach pebble is incised on one side with an equal-armed cross with arced terminals.

Date range: seventh or eighth century.

Primary references: Hunter 2016, 67, 68.

Compiled by A Ritchie 2016

Archaeology Notes

NG20NE 13 2691 0543

A small monument with an incised Latin cross, of very early type, stands against the wall of the burial ground (described by Muir as modern) which is close to the old graveyard containing St Columba's Chapel, A'Chill.

Muir thinks it probably came from this old chapel yard.

T S Muir 1885; W G Collingwood 1906.

A cross-incised stone 1.0m high. It stands against the outer face of the modern graveyard wall at the SW corner at NG 2689 0543.

Preserved at Canna House are four smaller stones incised with a similar cross, and one incised with a Maltese cross. That with the Maltese cross incised and one of the others came from the modern graveyard, one from the wall of a building under reconstruction at 'The Square' at NG 2702 0520, one from the shore at approximately NG 2717 0473 and one from the area centred NG 2404 0554, near Tarbert, in the vicinity of several rectangular building footings. Mrs Campbell (J L Campbell, Canna House) believes that all these crosses came from the old St Columba's Chapel burial ground (NG20NE 1) and were dispersed when it was destroyed in the mid 19th century.

Visited by OS (A A), 3 June 1972.

(Location amended to NG 2691 0543 and classification to cross-incised stones, burial-ground, possible chapel and cave). The modern burial-ground at A'Chill lies at the foot of the W flank of a ridge of outcrop; it is said to have replaced an earlier burial-ground associated with St Columba's chapel (NG20NE 1) which was levelled in 1851 when the adjacent township (NG20NE 45) was cleared of tenants. Within the burial-ground, there are the grass-grown stone wall-footings of what may be a chapel, measuring 6.45m from ESE to WNW by 3.8m internally; the walls survive to a height of 0.9m, but they range in thickness from 0.6m along the sides to 0.9m at the ends. Five cross-incised stones, three of them pillar stones (one of which is broken in two), together with a late medieval decorated grave slab (for which, see NG20NE 1) and a fragment of a millstone, can also be found within the burial-ground. A mortuary enclosure dedicated to the MacNeill family abuts the E face of the W wall.

A narrow cave in the ridge of outcrop, its mouth visible to the S of the burial-ground, is said to have been used to store the long poles used for carrying the coffins. The cross-incised stone referred to by the OS in 1972 no longer stands against the outer face at the SW corner of the burial-ground; it has either been removed to Canna House or is one of the five within the burial-ground.

(Canna 160, 929)

Visited by RCAHMS (ARG, IF), 11 April 1995.

Activities

Field Visit (3 June 1972)

A cross-incised stone 1.0m high. It stands against the outer face of the modern graveyard wall at the SW corner at NG 2689 0543.

Preserved at Canna House are four smaller stones incised with a similar cross, and one incised with a Maltese cross. That with the Maltese cross incised and one of the others came from the modern graveyard, one from the wall of a building under reconstruction at 'The Square' at NG 2702 0520, one from the shore at approximately NG 2717 0473 and one from the area centred NG 2404 0554, near Tarbert, in the vicinity of several rectangular building footings. Mrs Campbell (J L Campbell, Canna House) believes that all these crosses came from the old St Columba's Chapel burial ground (NG20NE 1) and were dispersed when it was destroyed in the mid 19th century.

Visited by OS (A A), 3 June 1972.

Aerial Photography (2 September 1994)

Field Visit (11 April 1995)

(Location amended to NG 2691 0543 and classification to cross-incised stones, burial-ground, possible chapel and cave). The modern burial-ground at A'Chill lies at the foot of the W flank of a ridge of outcrop; it is said to have replaced an earlier burial-ground associated with St Columba's chapel (NG20NE 1) which was levelled in 1851 when the adjacent township (NG20NE 45) was cleared of tenants. Within the burial-ground, there are the grass-grown stone wall-footings of what may be a chapel, measuring 6.45m from ESE to WNW by 3.8m internally; the walls survive to a height of 0.9m, but they range in thickness from 0.6m along the sides to 0.9m at the ends. Five cross-incised stones, three of them pillar stones (one of which is broken in two), together with a late medieval decorated grave slab (for which, see NG20NE 1) and a fragment of a millstone, can also be found within the burial-ground. A mortuary enclosure dedicated to the MacNeill family abuts the E face of the W wall.

A narrow cave in the ridge of outcrop, its mouth visible to the S of the burial-ground, is said to have been used to store the long poles used for carrying the coffins. The cross-incised stone referred to by the OS in 1972 no longer stands against the outer face at the SW corner of the burial-ground; it has either been removed to Canna House or is one of the five within the burial-ground.

(Canna 160, 929)

Visited by RCAHMS (ARG, IF), 11 April 1995.

Artefact Recovery (2012)

NG 2692 0543 A circular stone, c0.25m in diameter and marked with an incised cross with arced terminals, was found by the farmer Geraldine McKinnon in the burial ground at A’ Chill. On comparison to the Clocha Breaca on the Irish island of Inishmurray, the stone is thought to be a turning stone, also known as a prayer or cursing stone, and is thought to be of 7th- or 8th-century date.

Archive: Highland HER, NTS and RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: The National Trust for Scotland

Derek Alexander, The National Trust for Scotland

Stewart Connor,

2012

References

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