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Colonsay, Balaruminmore, Paire Na Henglais

Burial Ground (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Colonsay, Balaruminmore, Paire Na Henglais

Classification Burial Ground (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Pairc Na H-eaglais; Carraig Mhic A Phi; Macfie's Stone

Canmore ID 37887

Site Number NR39SE 14

NGR NR 3842 9144

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2023.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Colonsay And Oronsay
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll


Field Visit (11 April 1974)

The chapel and burial ground are now completely grass- covered and there is no sign of the cross. The chapel measures 8.0m E-W by 4.5m, the walls being 1.2m wide in the E, where best preserved, while elsewhere spread to 2.0m and everywhere remaining to a height of up to 1.0m. The chapel is divided in two by a wall of stones set on end. The entrance is not apparent although there are breaks in the wall on the N and S sides. The burial ground is still traceable and measures 20.0m in diameter within turf-covered walling 1.3m wide.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (BS) 11 April 1974

Desk Based Assessment (1974)

NR39SE 14 3842 9144.

(NR 3842 9145) Burial Ground (NR) Carragh Mhic a' Phi (NR) (No detail shown)

OS 6" map (1900)

(NR 3843 9144) Carragh Mhic' Bhi (NR)

OS 6" map (1878)

The remains of a pre-Reformation chapel in the centre of a circular graveyard which is delimited by "monoliths placed edgeways". Carragh Mhic a' Phi, the remains of a cross, stands immediately E of the burial ground. The chapel, 30' x 20' and oriented, is said to have been used as a place of worship as late as the 17th century. Only the footings remain. The burial ground, 21 paces in diameter, is said to have been used for the burial of unbaptised children, and old people in 1880 could remember such a burial taking place.

The cross, known as Carragh Mhic a' Phi - MacFie's Standing Stone - formerly stood 12' - 14' high, but had been broken down to 8'6" by 1918, in which year the remains used as a rubbing stone, were knocked over by cattle and they lay broken on the ground until 1934 when they were re-erected. The cross bore traces of carving which Grieve interpreted as the lower part of a Crucifixion. The field in which the remains lie is known as Pairc-na-h' eaglais - Field of the Church.

S Grieve 1923; J de V Loder 1935

Information from OS.

Field Visit (October 1981)

This site lies within the W corner of a field known as Pairc na h-eaglais ('field of the church'), about 250m NW

Balaruminmore farmhouse. The N boundary of the site is defined by a low crescentic bank which stands to a maximum

height of O.5m, while the S half is traversed by an area of rig-cultivation. The remains of the enclosure are thus roughly

semicircular on plan, measuring about 22m in diameter from E to W. Standing within this area are the foundations of a

small oblong building which, although aligned E-W, does not appear to have been a chapel and was probably associated with the later agricultural use of the site. It measures 7m in length by 3m transversely within round-angled drystone rubble walls 1m in average thickness; the entrance is near the centre of the S side-wall.

The burial-ground is said to have been chiefly devoted to the interment of unbaptized infants, (Ordnance Survey Name Book 1878), but its antiquity is shown by the existence of two carved stones of probable Early Christian date.

Carved Stones:

(1) Carraig Mhic A' Phi ('MacFie's Stone'). This cross-decorated standing stone, which in local tradition is

associated with the murder in 1623 of Malcolm MaeDuffie, last chief of the clan, (Grieve 1923; Loder 1935) stands in a railed enclosure 3m E of the NE angle of the building described above. It originally stood on a low knoll about 10m to the NE, with the carved face to the W, but was damaged by cattle in 1918 and, following its re-erection in 1934, was again knocked down about 1960. As the result of its reconstruction in 1977, it now stands, facing N and upside down, with about 0.5m of the original top concealed in a mortared rubble base. The accompanying drawing (RCAHMS 1984, No.317, A) is partly based on a photograph taken about 1870.

The stone is a slab of Torridonian flagstone, much laminated in recent times; it is broken across, and the pieces have been joined with metal straps. Its height in the 19th century was about 2.45m, of which 0.6m was buried, (Grieve 1923) and it measures 0.45m in maximum width by 100mm in thickness. In the upper part there was carved a large cross with irregular grooved outline, having a rectangular boss in relief at the centre and slightly expanded arms. Only the side-arms and central part of the cross are now identifiable. (Photo by Revd J B Mackenzie, C.1870, in NMRS and reproduced in Loder 1935).

(2) A cross-marked stone was discovered in 1979 below the turf some 3m NE of the building, during the construction

of the railed enclosure for MacFie's Stone, and it was reburied in the enclosure in 1981. It is a roughly shaped

cruciform slab ofTorridonian flagstone, measuring 1.01m in length by 0.42m across the arms and 0.35m in width across the shaft. Pecked out at the centre is a simple outline cross whose side-arms coincide with those of the slab. The visible outline of the top arm is longer than that of the shaft, but a natural channel on the central axis may have been considered as part of the latter.

RCAHMS 1984, visited October 1981.

Reference (2001)

Former burial-ground in Pairc na h-Eaglais ('field of the church').

(1) Standing stone, associated with the murder of Malcolm MacDuffie in 1623; repaired in 1977 and re-erected upside-down near original site. It is 2.45m by 0.45m by 100mm and bears remains of a large outline cross with a rectangular central boss in relief.

(2) Rough cruciform slab found in 1979 and reburied. It is 1.01m by 0.42m across the stubby arms, and bears a pecked outline cross.

I Fisher 2001.


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