Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Taphophile Tragics: An Ancient Cemetery and Site of St Columba's Chapel on the Isle of Skye

Thanks to Jonathan MacDonald's handbook of history and legends of the Isle of Skye we discovered this ancient cemetery and site of Saint Columba's Chapel on an island in the River Snizort. The chapel is believed to have been built by the Saint and to be the first Christian church on the island. 

In his handbook, MacDonald tells the story of how Saint Columba saw a vision before arriving in Skye of being greeted by an old man who would ask for baptism and on receiving it would die. The story goes on to to tell how the vision came to pass and the man fell dead at the Saint's feet as soon he had been baptised.  His body was carried to the little island shown below and buried there by Saint Columba and his men. It is thought that this was the first Christian burial on Skye. 

The photos - above and immediately below - are of an ancient tombstone in St Columba's cemetery in Snizort on the Isle of Skye. 

Shown below is the Mortuary Chapel of the Nicolson's of SCOIREBREAC.

The effigy is believed to have been carved in the 16th century by the same man responsible for an effigy of John MacLeod of Minginish, de facto Chief of the Clan, which is in St Clement's Church in Rodel, Harris. 

Twenty eight Chiefs of the Nicolson's Clan are believed to be buried in this ancient and scared site. 

Another of the other tombstones in the cemetery is below.

There was no signpost from the main road to this ancient cemetery. It was only by seeing this bridge through the trees on our return journey that we were able to find this sacred site.

This is my contribution to Julie's Taphophile Tragics. To see further contributions, click here


  1. This definitely is an ancient spot.

  2. What a beautiful place and a truly amazing find!

    Beneath Thy Feet

  3. Wow, what a find.
    I really like the second photo with the cow gazing back at you.

  4. Skye is an amazing place!
    (I am afraid the name Snizort always makes me laugh)

  5. How serendipitous is all this then, Rae! I hope you had your wellies with you, as the area look long and lush. Whilst the ground looks soft, the rock looks as hard as hell, or thereabouts. Hard and uncompromising. A bit like the Chieftains of old, I suspect. Had I wandered the sacred site with you, I think myself to have been struck dumb with admiration and reverence.

    Thank you so much for persevering with your search, and for letting us come along with you, if even only virtually.

  6. This ancient burial site looks as if it was intended to be a very private, sacred place. The unusual style of the feature in the third photo intrigues me! It almost looks like a wall surrounding specially hallowed ground.

  7. It was certainly an amazing place to be in Gemma.

  8. This conjures up so many memories of novels I read as a child. It looks like a really magical and mysterious place.