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Skye, Kilmore, Old Parish Church Of Sleat

Church (Medieval), Cross Incised Stone (Early Medieval), Grave Slab (Medieval)

Site Name Skye, Kilmore, Old Parish Church Of Sleat

Classification Church (Medieval), Cross Incised Stone (Early Medieval), Grave Slab (Medieval)

Canmore ID 11542

Site Number NG60NE 2

NGR NG 65771 06960

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Sleat
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Skye And Lochalsh
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project (7 August 2016)

Kilmore, Skye & Lochalsh, cross-slab

Measurements: H 0.62m, W 0.17m, D 0.07m

Stone type: mica-schist

Place of discovery: NG 6576 0696

Present location: in the ruined parish church of Kilmore.

Evidence for discovery: recorded in the churchyard in 1978.

Present condition: worn and damaged at the top edge.


This pillar-like slab bears a grooved equal-armed cross, the top and side arms of which extend to the top and sides of the slab.

Date range: seventh or eighth century.

Primary references: Fisher 2001, 102.

Compiled by A Ritchie 2016

Architecture Notes



Provision of slates for the Church of Kilmore.

Note of landing of the 5000 slates.

1790. GD 221/49/1.

Repair of Family Burial Place.

Included in 'Statement of works begun and not yet finished' and in a Memorandum from James Gillespie, Architect.

1802. GD 221/73/5 and 10.


Field Visit (7 May 1914 - 24 June 1921)

Old Parish Church of Sleat, Kilmore.

What remains of this earlier parish church stands about 200 yards from the western coast of the Sound of Sleat and to the east of the main road in the village of Kilmore. It is rectangular on plan and measures 55 feet in length and 20 feet in width . The church is now a roofless shell with the gables, 3 1/2 feet in thickness, still retaining their tabling, and the side walls, 2 2/4 feet in thickness, remaining to their original height. Joist holes in the west end indicate where a loft has been, and also that the joist ends have been bedded in sheet lead. The door, which is toward s the west end of the south wall, the east and west windows and two side windows have had their rounded heads and jambs moulded. The east window, 8 feet 10 inches in height from sill to crown and 4 1/2 feet in width, has widely splayed sconsions and pointed rear arch, but the west window is much destroyed. A stone in the west gable bears the date 1687.

TOMBSTONE IN CHURCHYARD. In the churchyard, embedded in cement between two modern tombstones, is a rectangular slab of blue schist wanting a portion of the lower end. It measures 1 foot 5 inches in breadth, and what remains is 5 feet 3 1/2 inches in length and bears two ornamented panels on the face. The upper panel, which is about 16 inches square, contains four foliaceous designs in the angles formed by lines crossed in the form of a St Andrew's Cross. In the lower panel is a claymore with straight quillons and a spike on the top of the pommel, with a voided roundel in relief on either side of the handle and six similar designs, of which the top one only is perfect, impinging on the dexter side of the stone between the blade and the edge of the slab; on the sinister side of the blade there seems to be a design like a pair of clipping shears placed obliquely, the points turned inwards. A plain moulding runs round the edge of the stone.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 7 May 1914 ; 24 June 1921.

OS map: Skye lvii.

Field Visit (17 June 1961)

As described by the RCAHMS.

Visited by OS (A S P) 17 June 1961.

External Reference (2011)

"The earliest recorded church at Kilmore is said to have been built by a priest called Crotach MacGille Gorm who was a canon of Beauly Abbey. It dates from the early 13th century. This church was in use until the early 17th century when it was burned down during a battle between the MacLeods and the MacIntyres, a sept of Clan Donald. The battle took place in a field near the church. The MacIntyres were put to flight and ran for sanctuary into the church. The pursuing MacLeods barricaded the doors and burned the heather-thatched church to the ground with the MacIntyres inside it. There is no trace now of this building.

Ruins of Kilmore Church

The second church at Kilmore, the ruins of which still stand in the churchyard, was built around 1681 at the behest of Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat. This was the church visited almost a century later by Dr Johnson and James Boswell on their tour of the Hebrides. Boswell writes “I walked to the parish church of Slate, which is a very poor one.” However he was very impressed with the monument in the church in memory of the young late chief Sir James Macdonald (a monument later transferred to the present church). Boswell refers to Sir James as “this extraordinary young man , whom I had the pleasure of knowing intimately” and he quotes the inscription in full in his “Journal”.

The Old Church was in constant use until 1874, by which time the building had fallen into serious disrepair and Lord Macdonald agreed to the building of a new church. The third and present church at Kilmore was opened in 1876, large enough to hold six hundred worshippers. This church was in regular use until by the mid 1980s it was in a state of poor repair and was threatened with closure. However a group was set up to save Kilmore as a place of regular worship and as a result of vigorous fundraising, and awards from several Trusts, a sum of £40,000 was raised for the restoration of the church.

There is a plaque in the foyer of the church which commemorates the magnificent contribution made by the Friends of Kilmore, both at home and abroad, to the repair and restoration of the church."

(from research published on Sleat Local History Society website)

Information compiled by the ARCH Community Timeline course, 2011

Desk Based Assessment

NG60NE 2.00 65760 06961

NG60NE 2.01 65770 06969 Macdonald Mausoleum

(NG 657 7695) Church (NR) (In Ruins)

OS 6"map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1903)

Old Parish Church of Sleat, Kilmore. It is rectangular on plan and measures 55ft in length and 20ft in width. The church is now a roofless shell with gables, 3 1/2ft in thickness, still retaining their tabling, and the side walls, 2 3/4ft in thickness, remaining to their original height. The door, which is towards the W end of the S wall, the E and W windows, and two side windows have had their rounded heads and jambs moulded. The E window has widely splayed sconsions and a pointed rear arch, but the W window is much destroyed. A stone in the W gable bears the date 1687 (RCAHMS 1928).

The first church is said to have been built by a Canon of Beauly, Crotach mac Gille Gorm, early in the 13th century and to have been in use until the early part of the 17th century when, in a fight, the church was deliberately fired in order to destroy those who had taken refuge in it. The second church was built in 1681, according to the Old Statistical Account (1792) (Muir 1885) completed in 1691, and was used until 1876, when the present church was built (Gordon 1950).

Information from OS.

T S Muir 1885; RCAHMS 1928; S Gordon 1950.


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