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Lewis, Eoropie, Teampull Mholuaidh, St Moluag's Church

Chapel (Medieval), Church (Medieval)

Site Name Lewis, Eoropie, Teampull Mholuaidh, St Moluag's Church

Classification Chapel (Medieval), Church (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Church Of St Mulvay; Teampull Mor; St Molua's Church; St Malvay's Church; St Olaf's Church; St Mallonvy's Church; Teampull Eorrapaidh

Canmore ID 4419

Site Number NB56NW 3

NGR NB 51928 65157

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/4419

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2017.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish Barvas
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Recording Your Heritage Online

St. Moluag's Church (Teampall Mholuaidh) T-plan former kirk all of one build, believed to have been built under Norse patronage on an earlier Celtic site. However, the attributed date has ranged from late 12 th to early 16th century. Putlock holes suggest the earlier period; window details and a battered plinth redolent of St. Clement¿s, Rodel, the latter. The church takes the form of a rectangular cell, with small lean-to sacristy and chapel flanking the eastern gable; the plan bears strong similarities to the 12 th century Gardar Cathedral in Greenland. Restoration in 1911 -12 was sympathetic for its date, supervised by James S. Richardson (later Inspector of Ancient Monuments). He re-introduced ashlar dressings and used Orkney slates and flagstones, reroofing the bare interior with a simple, open timber roof. The pulpit, altar and font are 1911 ; evidence of a chancel screen is still visible. Now in the care of the Episcopal Church, St. Moluag's stands within a small walled kirkyard with a Celtic cross of revival Iona type.

Taken from "Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Mary Miers, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press http://www.rias.org.uk

Archaeology Notes

NB56NW 3 51928 65157

(NB 519 652) Teampull Mholuidh (OE) (In Ruins)

OS 6-inch map, (1898)

The 'Church of St Mulvay' was associated with shallow-tide sacrifices to the sea-god Shony, which ceased only 32 years before Martin's visit.

M Martin 1716

Depicted as unroofed and annotated as Teampull Fo Luith (in ruins) on the 1st Edition of the Ordnance Survey 6-inch map (Island of Lewis, Rosshire, 1853, sheet 1). The Object Name Book(OS) describes the site as 'The ruins of a Church, the walls of which are still standing and apperently not much decayed. It had four windows; two in the sides and two in the ends. It is one of the largest ruins of Churches in the Lewis island. There is very little known regarding it, but it appears to be of considerable antiquity'

Name Book 1852.

Standing in a field about 250 yds to the N of Europie village is Teampull Mholuidh, which has been roofed and restored in recent times and is in good condition. Measuring internally 44ft by 17ft 8ins it is oblong on plan, with a projecting sacristy 10ft 1in by 5ft 2ins internally on the NE, and a projecting chapel 9ft by 5ft 3ins inetrnally on the SE, and lies almost due E and W. The main walls are 15ft 10ins high and 2ft 9ins in thickness, while the projecting walls are slightly thinner and are covered with lean-to roofs. The door, 2 ft 5 in wide, is near the W end of the S wall, and is arched semicircularly and splayed internally, the rybats and front arch of sandstone having been inserted, a repair which has also been made in the N, S and E windows. The single main window in the N wall is at a higher level than the corresponding one in the S, both being splayed internally. Two small openings close together and 1ft wide are placed near the wall head in the E end of each of the N and S walls. In the centre of each gable is a long narrow window, the western, 1 ft 3ins wide with rybats much decayed, being arched semicircularly and splayed internally, while the eastern, 1 ft 1in wide with new rybats, also splayed internally, has a pointed rere-arch with moulded arris. Three putlog holes are seen about the centre of the N wall and two opposite on the S. South of the E window is a recess 10 ins wide and 11ins deep. A door 2 ft 2ins wide, with 1ft 2in jambs, checks and square sconsions, leads to the sacristy, which has a slit window 6 ins wide, splayed inwardly in the E wall, a small lamp recess 11 ins wide by 1ft 41 ins deep in the S wall and another 1ft 1 in wide by 1ft 2ins deep in the W wall. The chapel is entered from outside the church by a door in the W wall, the present sconsions of which have been inserted. In the centre of the S and E walls is a slit window, 5 ins wide and splayed internally, while a similar window 9 ins wide looks into the E end of the church. A splayed plinth (modern), projecting 1 ft 6 ins, runs along the W wall and turns the SW corner and is also seen on the middle of the E wall. The original building may date from the 14th century. (See Fig. 15 in RCAHMS 1928)

BELL.-A good bell in the church measures 1 ft 3 in in diameter at mouth, 8 ins at crown, and is 10 1/2 ins high. The canons are rounded and two rings circle the crown, which meets the shoulder in a third ring. The waist is rather straight and the widening soundbow comparatively small. There are two bands at the bottom near the lip, the upper being inscribed all round with the words TE DEUM LAVDAMVS 1631, L.W. in roman letters 5/8th in high, and the lower with a very small pattern, now indistinct. The bell is said to have come from the old church of St Lennan, Stornoway.

Martin associates this" Church of St Malvay" with " an ancient custom to sacrifice to a seagod called Shony, at Hallow-tide," which he describes.

RCAHMS 1928

'Teampull Moluach' is briefly described, with plan before restoration.

D MacGibbon and Ross 1896

The 'Teampull Mor at Europie', variously called St Molua's, St Malvay's, St Olaf's and St Mallonvy's, had various pagan rites associated with it. The original building, which may date from the 14th century (RCAHMS 1928), was completely restored about 1902 and religious services have been held there from time to time, the last in 1955 (Information from OS (WS) 8 September 1956).

W C MacKenzie 1919

Teampull Mholuidh, at NB 5192 6515, is as described and planned by the Commission.

Visited by OS (RL) 16 June 1969

Church name-board states: "Church of St Moluag; The Teampull Mhor"

OS Revision July 1973

This chapel site was included in a research project to identify the chapel sites of Lewis and surrounding islands. The Lewis Coastal Chapel-sites survey recorded 37 such sites.

R Barrowman 2005

Activities

Publication Account (1985)

Although now much altered, the parish church of Lismore occupies the choir of the 14th century cathedral of the medieval diocese of Argyll dedicated to St Moluag and is thus one of the earliest churches still used for worship. The cathedral nave to the west barely survives and the tower which was at the west end of the nave is visible only at foundation level. The medieval church was; however, roofless by 1679, and its present state is a result of rebuilding in 1749 at which time the walls were lowered by as much as 3m before it was re-roofed. The external buttresses on the south side are original features, but the round-headed windows appear to date to the 18th century restoration. The interior offers at first sight only the impression of a presbyterian church at the turn of the century, but on the south wall the piscina, sedilia (the seating for the more important clergy) as well as an original doorway still remain visible. The northern doorway is more elaborate with the arch moulding springing from the carved heads of a bishop and a cleric.

Several interesting medieval graveslabs are preserved in the church, and others are in the graveyard.

St Moluag was an Irish saint who founded a Christian community on Lismore traditionally between 561 and 564, and from here he travelled extesively in Pictlandi to him are attributed the foundations, among others, of churches at Rosemarkie, in Ross and Cromarty, and Mortlach, in Banffshire. Thus the present church bears testimony not only to the activities of one of the earliest missionaries to what is now Scotland and to the creation of the diocese of Argyll with its see on Lismore in the late 12th century, but also to the later rebuilding and to the subsequent sensitive restoration of the medieval features by Ian Lindsay in 1956.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles’, (1985).

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