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Rum, Kilmory, St Mary's Church Burial Ground

Cross Slab (Early Medieval)

Site Name Rum, Kilmory, St Mary's Church Burial Ground

Classification Cross Slab (Early Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Rhum

Canmore ID 319475

Site Number NG30SE 1.01

NGR NG 36137 03664

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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


Field Visit (2 July 1925)

Church and Churchyard, Kilmory.

On the northern side of the island at the mouth of the Kilmory river are foundations of a township, and the land in the immediate neighbourhood shows signs of former cultivation. The church stands immediately north of the graveyard on rising ground at the foot of a little rocky cliff on the left bank of the river. It is a ruinous drystone structure measuring externally 38 ¾ feet from east to west by 19 ¼ feet. The walls are 3 ½ feet feet thick and are reduced to an average height of 4 feet. The western angles are rounded but the eastern are fairly rectangular. The entrance is in the south wall and is 3 foot 1 inch in width. No other openings are apparent. The churchyard is enclosed by a ruinous wall; it contains a number of plain unwrought head slabs and a shaft of hard sandstone, 4 ¾ foot in height and 9 inches in average width with a thickness of 6 inches, bearing at the top a small incised Latin cross surmounting a circular panel 8 inches in diameter, defined by two incised lines, which contains a cross with expanding arms set saltire-wise; towards the base of the shaft are two parallel incised lines.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 2 July 1925.

OS map: Islands of Rum, Sanday, etc., lx.

Field Visit (16 May 1972)

The building noted by the RCAHMS as St Mary's Church is still known locally by that name, but does not appear to be a church. It is a ruinous blackhouse oriented N-S, one of a group forming the depopulated hamlet of Kilmory. The RCAHMS's measurements are correct, but the doorway is in the centre of the E wall. The walls stand to the wall head. There is no building in the area oriented E-W and none that can be recognised as a church.

The burial ground, now disused, is an irregularly-shaped enclosure bounded by a dry wall in good state of repair. The cross-incised sandstone shaft lies prostrate in the E half and measures 1.6m long x 0.2m x 0.2m. The cross set saltire-wise within a circle is visible near the top and has an incised line running upwards and also down- wards from it. The two parallel lines are also visible. On the rear of the shaft near the top is another cross of latin style. Both crosses are very weathered, and are difficult to interpret.

Visited by OS (AA) 16 May 1972.

Field Visit (June 1983)

A raised D-shaped enclosure (14.5m by 12.2m internally and revetted by a drystone wall) lies among the buildings of the deserted township no.30. The earliest inscribed monuments is of early 19th-century date, but a 7th- or 8th- century cross-marked pillar 1.6m long lies in the enclosure. It is carved in shallow relief on one face with a long-shafted four-petalled 'marigold' cross surmounted by an incised Latin cross, and on the other face with a sunken Latin cross. There are no visible remains of a chapel (the building recorded by RCAHMS in 1925 is part of the township) although a chapel on Rhum is mentioned by Martin at the end of the 17th century.

RCAHMS 1983 No. 17, visited June 1983.

Sources: RCAHMS 1928; M Martin 1934; J A Love 1983.

Reference (2001)

A cross-marked pillar lies in the burial-ground that is situated on the W bank of the Kilmory River, 180m from its mouth. The name indicates a burial-ground or chapel dedicated to St Maelrubha and an ecclesiastical site was recorded by Pont in the late 16th century, while Martin Martin about 1700 mentioned a chapel on Rum.(i) However, a round-angled structure immediately N of the burial-ground, which has previously been identified as a chapel, appears to be one of the township buildings.(ii) The burial-ground is a raised D-shaped enclosure measuring 14.5m by 12m within a drystone revetment. It contains a number of plain gravemarkers and slabs, the earliest inscriptions being of early 19th-century date.(iii)

The pillar now lies in the N part of the burial-ground, but its probable former site is marked by a slight stony mound about 2m to the NW. It is of medium-grained buff Torridonian sandstone and is carved on the two wider faces, which are the end-grain of the stone. It measures 1.68m in height including a tapered butt 0.3m long, above which it tapers in width from 0.26m to 0.13m and in thickness from 0.15m to 0.12m. On one face (a) there is carved in low relief a cross-of-arcs, 0.19m in diameter within a peripheral bead-moulding. The 'petals' dividing the cross-arms have beaded margins and axial ribs, and at the centre there is a small raised boss having a central hollow. The cross is supported on the cupped upper end of a slightly sunken pedestal whose shaft, 0.22m high and 30mm wide, rises from a broad triangular base with a concave bottom edge. Standing on the upper perimeter of the cross there is the rectangular sunken base of an incised Latin cross about 90mm high. Its upper and lower terminals are triangular but those of the transom appear to be plain, although later pitting make interpretation difficult. On face (b) there is a Latin cross about 0.24m high, carved in the same shallow sunken technique as the pedestal on face (a) and rising from a similar triangular terminal with a curved lower edge. The transverse arms extend to the edges of the pillar, and like the top arm they are weathered so that the form of their terminals is uncertain.

I Fisher 2001, 95-6.


(i) RCAHMS 1983d, no.17; Blaeu's Atlas (Small Isles); M Martin 1934, 299.

(ii) RCAHMS 1928, No.687; RCAHMS 1983d, no.17.

(iii) For illustrations see J A Love 1983, opp.p.24.

RCAHMS 1928, No.687; RCAHMS 1983d, no.17; J A Love 1983, fig. on p.5; T H Clutton-Brock 1987, 28-9; M Magnusson 1997, 13.


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