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Drimnin, St Columba's Roman Catholic Church And Drimnin Castle

Castle (Medieval), Church (19th Century)

Site Name Drimnin, St Columba's Roman Catholic Church And Drimnin Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval), Church (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Bonnavoulin

Canmore ID 22336

Site Number NM55SW 1

NGR NM 54777 54976

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Morvern
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Argyll

Recording Your Heritage Online

Chapel of St. Columba (RC), James Anderson, 1837 Smartly dressed and until lately roofless chapel perched on a rocky eminence formerly occupied by the remains of Drimnin Castle. The altarpiece was painted by William Dyce, and the interior decorated by D. R. Hay of Edinburgh. All this, of course, has perished, but the chapel remains an impressive and unexpectedly grand statement in an area never home to more than a handful of Roman Catholics. Inaccessible by road, it was abandoned in the 1930s, though its battlemented tower remained a stirring landmark above the Sound of Mull. Now being restored.

Taken from "Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Mary Miers, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press

Archaeology Notes

NM55SW 1 54777 54976

(NM 5477 5497) St Columba's Chapel (NAT)

On site of Drimnin Castle (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

The chapel, still roofed, occupies the N end of a ridge around the extremity of which is a wall, about 0.9m thick, presumably part of a walled enclosure associated with the castle. The S end of the ridge is occupied by modern graves.

Visited by OS (R L) 10 June 1970.

Drimnin Castle (Site): This building formerly occupied the level summit-area at the N end of an elongated rocky outcrop of crag-and-tail form overlooking the Sound of Mull. The castle is shown on an estate-map of 1836 (as a rectangular building on an E-W axis, with a small projection, perhaps a stair-turret, at the E end of the S wall. The site is no more than 13m in width from E to W and if this representation is accurate, it bears out the description of the castle, written some years later (New Statistical Account [NSA] 1845), as a 'comparatively unimportant building'. In 1838 it was demolished by Sir Charles Gordon of Drimnin, to make way for a private Roman Catholic chapel which is now derelict. There are no visible remains of the castle with the exception of the lime-mortared rubble wall, noted by the OS field surveyor of uncertain date, measuring 0.9m in thickness and standing to a maximum height of 0.9m. This encloses the area, some 11m in length, between the chapel and the rocky cliff that bounds the site to the N.

There are no early records of this castle, although the lands of Drimnin were in the possession of the MacLeans of Coll throughout the 16th and the first third of the 17th centuries. The plan-form of the building, as shown on the estate-map of 1836, suggests a date no earlier than the end of the 16th century, and it may have been built in the second half of the 17th century when the family of MacLean of Drimnin became established. The castle was abandoned by about the middle of the 18th century.

RCAHMS 1980; Information from D Wilson, 1836 (held in SRO, RHP 3258); NSA 1845.

Bonnavoulion, St Columba's Church (RC). Disused. Built and designed by the Edinburgh wright-architect James Anderson (1838) on the site of Drimnin Castle.

J Gifford 1992.

The chapel building has been de-roofed; only a few neatly-stacked slates and pieces of lead remain outside the door.

Information from Mrs. P Martin (Peat Inn, Fife), 23 September 1998.


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