MHG5468 - St. Mary's Burial Ground - Kilmory, Rhum


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Type and Period (1)

  • CEMETERY (Early Medieval to 19th Century - 561 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

Incomplete, in rough pasture on moderate hillslope with NE-E-SE aspect and altitude 10-20m OD.
SMR card.
'Lochaber and Skye Monumental Inscriptions', pre 1855
Monumental inscription survey completed by Alastair G Beattie & Margaret H Beattie . The survey may not include inscription information after 1855 and each inscription transcribed does not give the full details that appear on the stones, abbreviations used. Some ommissions and inacuracies may be encountered. Published 1993. <1>
J Aitken : 20/12/02
The only early Christian antiquities on Rhum are two Celtic crosses - one in the Kilmory burial ground (map ref NH 361036) and the other at Bagh na h-Uamha (NM 421 973) {SMR NM49NW0002}. The Kilmory slab bears a Latin cross on one side (noticed by T S Muir in 1885 but not the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in 1925). The RCAHMS, however, described the other face of the slab as "a shaft of hard sandstone 4.75 ft high … bearing at the top a small incised Latin cross surmounting a circular panel 8 inches in diameter ..which contains a cross with expanding arms set saltire-wise." Both this "marigold" cross and the Latin cross have been dated to the seventh or eighth century (RCAHMS 1983). This is similar to the date ascribed to another cross slab found recently and set upright on the shore at Bagh na h-Uamha. Both monuments may have marked sites of worship in secular communities, rather than being actual grave markers. The prefix "Kil-" suggests there to have been a chapel at Kilmory as reported by Martin Martin at the end of the seventeenth century. The RCAHMS referred to a thick walled dry stone ruin (with an entrance 3 ft wide) beside the burial ground but this is not the chapel, merely a well preserved blackhouse. <2> <3> <4>

NG30SE 1 3613 0366.

(NG 3613 0366) Old Burial Ground (NAT)
OS 6" map (1903)

The settlement of Kilmory was evacuated in 1828 and the ruins of blackhouses exist today.
K Williamson and J M Boyd 1963 <5>

St Mary's Church stands immediately N of the graveyard and is a ruinous drystone building c. 39' E-W by 19' with 3 1/2' thick walls reduced to an average height of 4'. The S entrance is apparently the only one. The graveyard, enclosed by a ruined wall, contains, in addition to plain headstones, a shaft of hard sand- stone 4 3/4' long, bearing, at the top, and incised latin cross surmounting a circular panel 8" in diameter, which contains a cross with expanding arms set saltire-wise; towards the base of the cross are two parallel incised lines.
RCAHMS 1928, visited 1925 <6>

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.

This burial ground was surveyed by RoCAS and WCAS in 2012 on behalf of Scottish Natural Heritage to assess the possibility of rebuilding the enclosing wall and adding an entrance. For individual feature descriptions, please see report. <8>

Sources/Archives (8)



Grid reference Centred NG 3613 0366 (17m by 16m) (5 map features)
Map sheet NG30SE
Civil Parish SMALL ISLES
Geographical Area LOCHABER

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