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Benbecula, Nunton, Ruin Of St Mary's Chapel

Burial Enclosure(S) (Period Unassigned), Chapel (Period Unassigned), Cross (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Benbecula, Nunton, Ruin Of St Mary's Chapel

Classification Burial Enclosure(S) (Period Unassigned), Chapel (Period Unassigned), Cross (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Cladh Mhuire

Canmore ID 9972

Site Number NF75SE 4

NGR NF 76640 53800

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish South Uist
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Recording Your Heritage Online

Nunton Chapel (Teampall Mhuire), medieval Roofless ruin with affinities to Teampall na h- Uidhe in Harris, partly sunken on a mounded burial ground. Door at west end; altar footing, now obscured by tumbled stones, at east. In the graveyard, burial place of Clanranald chiefs, a variety of interesting gravemarkers in stone, concrete, timber, aluminium and cast iron.

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

Archaeology Notes

NF75SE 4 76640 53800.

(NF 7664 5379) Chapel (NR) (Ruin) Cladh Mhuire (NR)

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

"Origines" (OPS 1954), referring to Martin (M Martin 1934), states that at Nuntoun, Benbecula " there existed till lately a building, probably a chapel of the nuns of Iona, but locally believed to have been a nunnery dedicated to the Virgin Mary". Easson (D E Easson 1957) says the claim " need not be taken seriously". Muir (T S Muir 1885) notes the shell of a chapel, 25ft by 16ft externally, within the burial ground at Nuntown. There is a plain cross lying within the chapel and a comparatively modern one in the burial ground. The ruin was in fair condition in 1924.

Orig Paroch Scot 1854; M Martin 1884; D E Easson 1957; T S Muir 1885; RCAHMS 1928.

The shell of the chapel now stands 1.6m high to the eaves of the side walls and 3.2m high to the apex of the gables; but there has been considerable silting, the floor of the chapel probably being about 1.0m below the present ground level; the mortared walls are 0.9m thick. Nothing was seen of the crosses mentioned by previous authorities. At NF 7667 5377, in a wall, 1.2 to 1.4m thick adjoining the burial ground, there is a circular gate pillar, of stone construction, 1.2m in diameter and c.3.0m high, and the remains of a second pillar. The gateway may possibly be part of the original burial ground although it lies outside the present enclosure. The majority of the graves in the present burial ground are 19th - 20th century although many of the uninscribed stones may be earlier.

Visited by OS (J T T) 25 May 1965.

Anderson reports that a Celtic bell was found at Kilmory, Nunton.

J Anderson 1881, 213.


Field Visit (26 July 1924)

340 . Chapel, Nunton.-

Within a graveyard at Nunton is the roofless shell of a small church, oblong on plan, built of rubble in mortar. It measures 24 3/4 feet by 15 3/4 feet over walls 2 ½ feet thick. The entrance, centred in the west gable, is Surmounted by a small square niche; in the opposite gable is a small narrow window, and there are two others similar in each of the side walls. The ruin is in fair condition, but the ground has silted up considerably. "In the island of Benbecula there was a nunnery on the farm now called Nuntown. The building was taken down and the stones used in the building of Clanranald's mansion and office-houses."-New Stat. Acct., vol. xiv.,

p. 188: cf. No. 382.

South Uist xliv.

Visited by RCAHMS 26 July 1924.


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