MHG4352 - St Columba's Chapel, Eilean Loch Arkaig


The remains of St Columba' chapel, situated on an artificially enlarged island near the head of Loch Arkaig.

Type and Period (1)

  • CHAPEL (Medieval to 17th Century - 1058 AD to 1700 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

Island Columbkill or Chalum Cille, situated near the head of Loch Arkaig, contains the remains of an old chapel dedicated to St Columba. Its date of erection is not known, but it was in use in the 17th century. Parts of the wall were standing to a height of about 4ft in 1872.
Orig Paroch Scot 1854; Name Book 1872; A Ross 1895; W D Simpson 1927. <1>-<4>

The remains of St Columba's Chapel stand at the N end of the island, on the highest point, and are oriented E-W, measuring 11.0m by 4.9m within a wall of mortared rubble masonry 0.8m thick and 1.8m maximum height, the E wall and most of the W wall of which have collapsed. There are the remains of a doorway, c. 1.0m wide, at the W end of the S wall, and of a window c. 0.7m wide to the E of it. Although traces of the S and W sides of a graveyard were reported in 1961 on the S side of the chapel in the form of a turf-covered stone wall enclosing an area 18.0m N-S by c. 12.0m E-W, no gravestones were found and the only possible evidence in 1970 was a line of two or three stones in the roots of a tree c. 15m S of the chapel. There are, however, several grave-slabs within the chapel, one of which is faintly inscribed though illegible.
Visited by OS 17 July 1961 and 11 May 1970.

A desk-based assessment and survey of the island was undertaken in 2007 by the Sunart Oakwoods Research Group, and a report of the work has been received, together with a sketch plan and photographs. The chapel occupies the highest point of the island, and this survey measured it to c.13.2m by 5.08m. The east gable has collapsed outwards and evidence for an altar and associated burials has eroded into the loch. The E end of the N wall stands to a height of 3.5m, and part of the N and S walls remain to wall-head level but the W end has been reduced to grass-covered rubble. Two fragments of slate gravestones were observed cast down the bank below the chapel, one of which is inscribed D.K. or D.R. <5><6>

Sources/Archives (6)



Grid reference Centred NN 1599 8885 (10m by 4m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NN18NE
Civil Parish KILMALLIE
Geographical Area LOCHABER

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Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

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