MHG10290 - St Ninians Chapel and cemetery - Navidale


Early medieval chapel with associated cemetery.

Type and Period (2)

  • CHAPEL (BUILT 561; BUILT 1559; , Early Medieval to Medieval - 561 AD to 1559 AD)
  • CEMETERY (BUILT 561; BUILT 1559; , Early Medieval to Medieval - 561 AD to 1559 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

Site of an early medieval chapel with (surviving) associated cemetery.

No trace of the chapel remains.
Visited by OS (J B) 24 June 1976.

The site of St. Ninian's Chapel of which no trace now remains (OS {W D J}). It is said to have had a sanctuary (Mackay 1894) and to have been burned by MacKays in 1556.
This site is presumably source of 'named' element in name 'Navidale' the implication of which is that Norse found a 'nemed' or sacred place here and named the 'dale' after it (Watson 1926). This pre-Norse foundation would appear to be confirmed by the finding of a Class 1 symbol stone in the burial ground, which is still in use and in which burnt stones are occasionally found during grave-digging.
Within the modern, hexagonal graveyard, which may preserve the outline of an earlier enclosure, is a roughly made oval, mounded area, covering greater part of interior and merging with walls on the NW & SE (Macdonald and Laing 1973). St. Ninian's Well lies nearby,on a pasture stretch on shore but could not be located in 1960 (OS {W D J}).
Within the graveyard was found a burial consisting of human bones, a flint implement and part of a palmated antler of one of the larger, extinct deer (Scott 1918).
The symbol stone, (found 1968) now in Dunrobin Museum No 25, is an un dressed rectangular slab, of local red sandstone, measuring 3ft 2ins by 1ft 6ins, and bearing, incised, a 'cauldron' symbol and a possible unfinished 'Pictish elephant'. This, together with the fact that the stone shows tooling towards the base, suggests that it is an unfinished work, produced near its findspot (Macdonald and Laing 1973).
Metric measurement - 0.94m x 0.43m x 0.08m thick.
R Gordon 1813; J Mackay 1894; A B Scott 1918; W J Watson 1926; A D S Macdonald and L R Laing 1973; Visited by OS (W D J) 26 May 1960.

'Site of St. Ninian's Chapel (NR)' marked on the 2nd ed 6" OS map of Caithness of 1909

The graveyard was scheduled in 1969. Well maintained cemetery. Clearly forms a mound, therefore, may be sited on a much older cemetery. Bound by a dry stone wall. Ground level of cemetery is top of wall. Forms part of SAM 2820.

'Sutherland Monumental Inscriptions', pre 1855
Monumental inscription survey completed by A.S.Cowper & I.Ross.
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. First published 1989, reprinted 1991, 1996 & 1999.
J Aitken : 20/12/02

For Dunrobin Museum see NC80SE 46.
Class I symbol stone bearing a triple-disc over an elephant
A.Mack 1997 p.12

The site was re-scheduled by Historic Environment Scotland in 2016. <1> <2>

Sources/Archives (11)



Grid reference Centred ND 0419 1614 (40m by 39m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND01NW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish KILDONAN

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (2)

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.