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History of the Island of Mull
Chapter VII - Antiquities


Until within recent years, but little if any attention was given to the remains of man in the Isle of Mull. The very few who have engaged in this exploration have unearthed enough of the remains to prove that Mull is also a wonderful isle in this field. No great nor striking monuments have been discovered, but in numbers and variety, it will rank well with almost any other region. If the inhabitable territory be considered, then the numbers and variety of remains must be regarded as remarkable. The importance of this field has slowly struggled for recognition.

Dr. Macculloch, in 1818, in his “Western Isles” (Vol. I. p. 535) wrote:

“Uninteresting and inconspicuous as are in general the antiquities which occur in the islands hitherto described-, those to be seen in Mull are still more rare and less deserving of notice. The enumeration of cairns, barrows, or gravestones is indeed fruitless and scarcely capable of furnishing amusement to the mere antiquary. Nor does any monument of this nature seem here to exist worthy of investigation or research.”

Even the “Statistical Account of Arygleshire,” published as late as 1845 shows a want of interest and information on the subject. The report for the parish of Kilfinichin and Kilviceuen, only makes the following statements:

“In the parish there are many of the round towers ol Norwegian or Danish origin; these are all upon the sea-coast and in sight of one another. They are small; most of them would not contain twenty men. There are, in many parts of the parish, long stones standing on end.”

There is nothing specific here, and it may refer to adjacent isles of Mull. But further along;

“The Druids are said to have had a temple at the head of Loch-Scridain, on a farm called Rossal. .    .    This temple is but small, and several stones have fallen down.” The report for the parish of Kilninian and Kilmore reads that “On the height above Kilmore, there are five large stones disposed in a kind of circular form, and supposed to have been a place of worship in the time of Druidism.”

The parish of Torosay found nothing worthy of mention. The reports, however, make a little improvement on the “Statistical Accounts” published in 1791-5, which only mentions that the Druids had a temple at the head of Loch Scridain, on a farm called Rossal. The temple is small.

In 1864, Rev. Thomas MacLauchlan read a paper before the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (Vol. V. p. 46) entitled “Notice of Monoliths in the Island of Mull.” He gives a map showing localities of the monoliths on the Ross of Mull.

To the same Society (Vol. X. p. 594), Prof. J. W. Judd communicated a paper headed “Notes on some Ancient Chapels and other Remains in the Island of Mull.” Small space is given to “Megaliths &c.” in the region of Tobermory. He further adds “Barrows, cairns, and hut circles are by no means rare in Mull,” and then drops the subject.

By far the most valuable paper on the antiquities of Mull which has come under my observation, is that of Prof. John Duns, communicated to same Society (Vol. XVII. pp, 79, 337), entitled “Notes on North Mull.” These papers do not give figures or drawings of the remains.

In 1913 the County Council of Argyll published a “List of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings in the County of Argyll,” which forms a good working basis.

Standing Stones: Standing Stones are divided' into Monolithis and Megalithic, both of which, by some authors have been ascribed to the Druids. It is more than probable that both long antedate that form of religion. Both the monolithic and megalithic may belong to the same age and people, and again the monolith may antedate the megalithic, and assigned to different races. The encroachment of a later people might establish their structures in the midst of the ruins of an older tribe or race. Hence in this connection the subject will be viewed under one head.

In the outline sketch made by Mr. MacLauchlin giving the location of the monolithes on the Ross of Mull, he places eight marks between the extreme point of Mull and Penny-cross House, all bordering the shore of Loch Scridain. These stones are rough, unhewn, and standing about six feet high, and distant apart about one half mile. One stone may be seen from the other. The first stood near the point where the ferry proceeds to Iona. It stood alone. In the early part of the last century the series was complete. Some have disappeared. A vagrant turned over some of them in hopes to find buried treasure beneath, and the largest and finest was broken up by quarrymen in 1864. This was the first of the series above the ancient ferry, and was called “An Caitchean-nach Mor,” the Great Stone of the Common, probably owing to the neighboring land being called “The Common” for the reason that the pasture immediately around the ferry had been left open for the benefit of pilgrims visiting the sacred isle of Iona. Among the natives there was a tradition that these monoliths were guide-posts to strangers visiting Iona on pilgrimages; and that at one time the series extended through the whole of Mull to the Green Point, or the spot where the ferry led to Kerrera, and, further the stones now existing are but the remnants of the ancient series. It is possible that pilgrims journeyed by this route, but that would not prove, the supposition, even though there should be no other monoliths in the island. The tradition was simply a theory.

Turning to the northern part of Mull ancient remains are various. Halfway between Tobermory and Salen is a monolith located on a cultivated slope nearly six hundred feet above the sea, on a farm' called Ardnacroiss. It is composed of compact bluish trap, and measures nine feet and four inches in height, three feet and ten inches in breadth at the surface of the slope, one foot and four inches at the same, and gradually tapers to a blunt top. Its position has a commanding view. Not far removed, but to the north and higher up the slope of Tom Peroch (808 feet), is a stone five feet long, three and a half feet broad, and nearly as thick, lying near the edge of a circle, thirty feet in diameter, with several large stones lying near. The broad end of the stone lies up.

About three hundred yards from the house of Ardnacroiss, in a low valley bordering on the Sound of Mull, is a circle fifteen feet in diameter, with a rim consisting of upright stones placed close together. Five of the uprights, which appear to be deeply seated in the ground are three and one fourth feet in height above the surface. Three are a little shorter, and widely separated by still lower stones which intervene. The center is a heap of small stones, two feet deep the largest being about six inches in diameter. These have been gathered up in the neighborhood. Although this circle is not a half mile from the Ardnacroiss standing stone, yet cannot be observed from it. 

About half a mile south of Tobermory are the Standing Stones of Baliscate, located on a broken terrace, some two hundred feet in height. These stones are three in number, two upright and one prostrate. The larger upright is eight feet high, ten feet in girth near the surface of the ground, and half way up the stone ten feet, four inches, when it begins to lessen until at the top it is a foot across. The smaller upright is quadrangular in shape, five feet four inches high and two feet four inches thick. The prostrate stones, like the others, is of blue trap, and eight feet nine inches long. The two uprights are fourteen and one half feet apart. These stones appear to be the remains of a regular stone circle.

In an upland mountain valley, above and east of the vil-vage of Dervaig, are the standing stones of Kilmore, commanding a very wide, varied and grand view. They occur in a hollow surrounded by a number of trap bosses, and form part of a circle, fifty feet in diameter. They are five in number and as approached from the highway, the first is prostrate, and is seven feet six inches long and two feet five inches thick. The next is twenty-two feet distant; is an upright; eight feet three inches high and two feet thick. The next is distant eight feet eight inches and prostrate, measuring in length seven feet and nine inches long and two feet thick. The fourth, distant five feet eight inches, is an upright, eight feet high and two feet thick. The fifth is distant eight feet four inches, is prostrate and is eleven feet long and three inches thick.

On the extreme north of Mull, at Sorn, are three stones, only one being upright. Its height is seven feet, and one foot four inches thick. One of the prostrate is eight feet ten inches broad, and ten inches thick; and the other is eight feet eight inches long, and one foot nine inches broad by one foot two inches thick. All are of trap. Near them is a circular heap of considerable size, made up of rather large stones, and rests on the seaward edge of a fine natural amphitheatre about a quarter of a mile across. Close by the circle is a small hill, from the summit of which a magnificent view opens up. To the north, Ardnamurchan, Muck, Eigg, Rum and the Cuchcullin of Skye; to the northwest; south Uist and Barra; to the west, Coll and Tyree, and to the northeast, the mountain ranges in Morar and Knoydort. Close by is Glengorm House.

All the circles in this part of Mull are located in positions commanding a wide, varied and magnificent view. In some instances a standing stone is met with in the neighborhood of the circle, but where this occurs the stone cannot be seen from the circle.

Near the foot of the steepest part of the Torloisk road, about a mile to the west of Kilninan Church stands a stone measuring five feet six inches high, breadth two feet, and thickness one half foot. The view from this relic is not wide. There is a standing stone at Killiechronan, one at Achmohr, one in Drumaluagwood (both owned by J. W. Melles of Grulin).

The standing stones are not buried in the earth, but have sunk to a depth, but little exceeding one foot. The object of these pillars and the stone circles has afforded much speculation. The latest theory defines that the stones are but part of the remains of houses, and during the succeeding ages most of the walls have been carted away. The walls of these structures were made of flat blocks, and the upright pillars acted as binders running up through the foundation masonry of the uncemented walls.

It is possible that stone implements of various kinds have been found in the immediate vicinity of the monoliths, but the evidence is not conclusive.

Duns:  The ruins, known as duns, brochs, and hill-forts have elicited much attention and speculation. Various recent writers have noticed them. On a slight eminence to the west of Tobermory, and on the left of the road to Sorn, is situated Dhun Ghirgeadail. It is circular and occupies the greater part of the top of the low hill. It covers a space thirty-seven feet in diameter, with walls eleven feet in thickness. A porlion of the wall, nearly five feet high still stands, and affords a good illustration of the mode of building. The outer and inner faces of the wall are composed of well selected blocks of large size, and the irregular spaces between the meeting of these stones are neatly filled in with flat-edged small stones, while the center is made up with irregular stones thrown in. Within the building close to the east wall is a square hollow, roughly built on three sides, containing numbers of shells of whelks (Littorinae) and limpets (Patellidae), some of the latter being unusually large. No other shells found. The deposit consists of alternate layers of shells and stones.

On the shore at Torloisk are two circular works, one called Dhun a Goil, at Ballygown, opposite the Sound of Ulva, and the other Dhun Eiskean, on the farm of Burg, three miles from Torloisk House, standing on a rugged eminence opposite the isle of Gometra. This latter is thirty-four feet six inches in diameter and the walls six feet thick, the thickness decreasing as they rise. The present height is seven feet, and on the summit, traces of loopholes appear. In the northwest of the wall is the doorway neatly constructed of stone. At present the door is clear to a depth of three feet, the rest being filled in with large stones which prevent measurement. The lintel is an oblong slab of trap five feet eleven and a half inches long and one foot thick. The corresponding stone on the inside five feet and a half long. The passage is three feet ten inches broad. In the wall opposite the door is a narrow opening into the center, where passages occur to the right and left, very narrow at first, but widening as they extend. All the wall at the same height from the ground appears to be-chambered. This work takes in a view of the Ben More range of mountains, and the opening of Loch na keal, the; Sound of Ulva, Ulva itself and Gometra.

On a hill a short way above Glen Aros House, near Sa-len, may be seen the remains of a magnificent fort called Caisteal na Sreainga. The shape is sub-oval, following the contour of the hill. The longer axis is eighty-eight feet and the shorter fifty-three; thickness of walls ten and one-half feet, and highest part of wall, still standing, four and one half feet. This work originally must have been massive and strong. The stone that forms the facings of the inner and outer walls is, for the most part, large, and imply skillful labor in placing it in position, and would do credit to any workman of the present age. The body of the. wall consists of much smaller stones loosely thrown in. This stone is round, for the most part, and composed of trap, quartz, gneiss, granite, which must have been gathered up from the surrounding surface, where left during the glacial age.

Dhunara Castle, on the estate of Glen Gorm, owned by Miss Margaret Lithgow, stands on a precipitous rock close to the sea and about four hundred yards from the Sorn standing stones. The fort is forty feet long by nineteen feet broad, inside measurement. The wall is three and one., half feet broad, and at several points still three to four feet high. The stone facing the inside and outside the wall has a flat equal surface and was placed with great care. It is bedded with shore sandy debris, consisting principally of finely comminuted shells, which had been formed into a pack by the use of sea water, and when dried became a hard cement.

On other parts of Dhunara hill are the foundations of two smaller structures, nineteen feet by ten feet severally. There is also a large artificial hollow but without traces of a connected building.

It is positively known that stone was taken from the pre-historic buildings, and used for the construction of cottages, because some of the stones have bits of the natural lime still clinging to them. The workmanship on these cottages contrast very unfavorably with that of the fort.

The whole area of the top of the rock, which is very irregular in outline, is one hundred and nine feet at the broadest part and sixty-nine feet at the narrowest. Access to the summit is by a deep narrow way in the rock, wide enough for one man only.

Dun Fuaraidh, on the Ordnance Map, is placed, and located five hundred yards southeast of Duard Castle. This is the only dun on the map along the whole east coast of Mull. Further information not given.

The earliest notice, I have seen of the remains of Rossal is in the “Statistical Account” 1791-6. It simply ascribes the work to the Druids, calling it a temple, and says it is small. The “Statistical Account” for 1845 refers it to the Druids, says it was a temple and it “is but small, and several of the stones have fallen down”. This work is on the farm of Rossal, some miles inland from the head of Loch Scridain. I have seen no description of this work.

In the very snout of the great headland of Burg there is a structure known to the people as Dun Bhuirg. At Sgopoll, on the northern shore of Loch Scridain there is an ancient broch. In a westerly direction from the old church yard of Kilviceun, Ross of Mull, is a hill called Dun a Gheird, which is crowned with ruined walls, of an ancient Dun. It is on the south coast, near the sea, and commands an extensive view. Between it and the extreme end of the Ross there are five other similar works, holding prominent positions along the sea-board. These are called Dun Chiab-haig, Dun an Fhiarain, Dun Chuilein, and Dun Torrain. Apparently Dun an Fhiarain was the strongest of the number. On either side of the portals are two colossal stones..

Often mentioned, and always without description are two earns, one called Carn Cul ri Albainn, located on the top of Mam Chlachaig, one of the range of hills to the north of Glen More, and the other Carn Cul ri Eirinn, on the other side of the glen. Another account places them; on top of Pap between Loch Bua and Coilaclois River, which flows into Loch Scridain. Skene ascribes the origin of these two earns as marking the dividing line between the kingdom of the Piets and the kingdom of the Scots of Dal-riada. This theory is susceptible to many objections.

Castles:  In all probability Dunara, and Ghirgeadail were constructed for defense and should be classed among the castles. The works, known as castles, are Duard, Aro,s. and Moy. Of the origin of these works, there is no history, but their architecture has led to the belief that they are oi Norse origin.

Duard Castle: Located on the extreme northeastern point of Mull, on a cliff one hundred feet above the sea, and from all directions it is quite conspicuous. For about one hundred and fifty years it was in partial ruin, but is now completely restored. The construction of the Castle belongs to two separate and distinct historical periods. The earlier, or Norse, is a tower, composed of three stories, the whole being about fifty feet high, the architecture corresponding with that of the thirteenth century. Its walls on two sides are fourteen feet thick, and the other sides ten, the interior being forty-four by twenty-two feet. The stairway winds up. through the wall which separates it from the more recent addition. In the wall, along the course of the stair, are crenells opening into the outer court or square. The tiers or stories, or apartments are supported by beams, resting upon corbels. The windows are deep recesses, forming acute angles towards the entrance of light, and on either side of the window is a long flat stone, resting upon rubble work, raised to the height oif the seat of an ordinary chair. The windows on the ground floor have the deep round arched recesses. The top of the wall has a battlement and crenelated parapet, and there are indications of corbelled bartizans at the angles. The doorway faced the east at the northern .wall, and was strengthened by a sliding bar. Between the years 1527 and 1568, Hector MacLean, the Chiefs of the Clan, made that addition known as The Great Tower. Its length is* one hundred and twenty-six feet, and breadth seventy-nine, and roof thirty-eight and a half feet high. There are three stories. The dungeon on the first, and the magazine in tn*e court yard. It is entered by a doorway from the south, and originally covered by a postern gate, with portcullis, barbican. This castle was one of the most extensive and powerful in the west Highlands, and its position gives it a commanding appearance as one approaches it from the sea. Before it to the south is a plain, terminating at the foot of the mountains. From its summit a view is obtained in all directions, which is magnificent in its beauty.

Aros Castle: I have been unable to learn scarcely any thing concerning Aros Castle. It is now reduced to two of its original walls and part of a third. The castle is eighty feet by forty; walls are seven feet thick. It is located in a very picturesque manner on the summit of a rocky hill, and overlooks the Bay of Aros. A spacious esplanade stretches out in front of the rock. From the ruins an imposing view of the interior of the island is obtained. It was one of the castles of the Lords of the Isles, and here the royal court at times was held. Of the origin of the castle there appears to be no knowledge, though it is supposed to have been built by the Lords of the Isles.

Another old castle rests on Glenara hill, called Caisteal Cnoc na Groille. There is an old story that stone from this castle was used in constructing Aros castle. The way of removing the stone was by placing a line, of men from the upper castle to Aros, and then handing down the stones from one to the other.

Moy Castle (Caisteal nan Maoidh,—castle of threatening) is located on a low rock nearly midway across the head of Loch Buy, and at high tide the base of the rock is washed by the sea. The castle is one of the best preserved in the Hebrides. Its roof was removed by Captain Murdoch Gillian, twenty-first MacLean of Loch Buy, who needed the material for another building. For the most part it is built of flat, stones, thoroughly cemented together being broadest at the base. The entrance faces the north, and is protected by a wooden door, which swings inward; and in turn is guarded by an iron grating on hinges, which again is secured by a wooden beam built in the wall, which may be moved at will, but can not be taken out of the wall. In the wall, at the west, was a recess where the gateman was stationed. The first floor of the castle is a solid rock, in the center of which is a basin four feet in depth, and is always full of water, but never overflows. Where the water comes from is unknown. In the east wall is a passage-way leading to the stairs, which passes through the east wall to the southeast corner of the second story. From that point upwards the stairway is spiral, in the wall, and all the steps of stone. Over the first passage-way, and in the wall, is the vault which held the dead during the funeral obsequies. The second and third floors are supported by stone arches. The second story was the judgment hall, and just off from it, and within the east wall, is the chapel, that is reached by a door-way from the spiral stairs. In the southwest corner is the dungeon, extending within the wall from the second floor down to the level of the ground floor. It does not admit of a ray of light, and is so constructed as to contain water, and on the floor is placed a single stone, upon which the prisoner must stand or else drown. Where this water comes from is unknown. There is an escape to prevent an overflow. The third floor was the banqueting hall. The floors of the fourth and fifth stories were of wood. Here chimneys, fire places, and windows may be seen. The height of the castle is fifty-five feet, and on the north and south sides, the walls on the exterior, are thirty-two feet; on the east and west sides, thirty-seven feet. At all places the walls are seven feet in thickness. This castle is supposed to be of Norse origin.

Druidical Circle: On the ground level with that on which Loch Buy House stands, and a short distance removed from it is a circle formed of low mounds. It has been called a Druidical Circle. The notes I took on the spot have been lost. The work has been referred to in different publications.

Circular Houses:    Among    antiquarians the circular houses have been a fruitful field for speculation, and learned discussion. The various theories set forth will not be considered. A brief statement must suffice of the facts in the case. Speaking generally, it may be said that this class of works is circular in form, and often located in out of the way places and difficult of access. The circular wall without mortar is the prevailing type. This style of architecture may have been chosen because a circular stone wall is stronger and more lasting than one of a straight line. The foundation rests upon the level surface of the ground, and the wall is generally of great thickness. Often walls of twenty feet in thickness, enclose a chamber of no more than ten or twenty feet in diameter. The average height is difficult to determine, because we now have but the sparse remains or mere foundations. If we are to judge by the broch at Glenelg, with walls ten feet in thickness, and a height of more than thirty feet, these works were more formidable than one would be inclined to conclude. Doorways in these buildings were very much hidden, and sometimes only entered through underground passage-ways. Doorways are found to be not over two and one half or three and one half feet in width. In the Western Isles of Scotland, the average of the central chamber varies, from twenty-five to thirty feet in diameter, and in some other locations much greater. Some have been found with interior circular walls and chambers within the outer walls. No written history remains of these ruins. Their antiquity is guess work. Some ascribe a very remote antiquity, while others bring the period of their usefulness between the years 300 and 1000 A. D. The buildings were human habitations, and conformed to the times. There is no special reason why they should be made for retreats during invasion. They were built under the general rule of protection. The people who built them were natives of the soil, and hence it may be said they were the homes of the Picts.

Cairns: Structures sometimes called Cairns often owe their bulk and present appearance to the downfall of what had once been its outer walls. Within this mass may be found the original layers of concentric walls.

It has long been common to ascribe ancient circles to Druid origin, notwithstanding the fact that this order did not use stone circles as temples, and no record has been produced which states anything whatever of men of any religion choosing to worship within a circle of naked stones.

Stone Coffins: Certain publications state that stone coffins are frequently met with. The only ones specified, so far as I know, are the following: In removing earth from the foundation of the new Free Church at Salen, there was found several half-length coffins formed very rudely of loose stones, in one of which was a small urn , which by accident was broken. It was found about twenty-two feet from the surface, in a sharp gravelly soil. With it were a flint and two small pieces of metal. The “New Statistical Account”, 1845, says that within the parish of Torosay “there have been, within the last ten years, stone coffins found in different parts of the parish, where excavations have been made for building or road-making. Some of them contained a few bones, some ashes, and some a small quantity of black mould.”

Craiinogs: The discoveries of ancient dwellings in the lakes of Switzerland during the winter of 1853-4, and the thorough study of them made by Dr. Ferdinand Keller, developed a great interest, in such remains. In Ireland, where remains of this kind have been found in considerable numbers, special reports have been made, occuring in Leitrim, Roscommon, Cavan and Tyrone. They take the form of artifical islands and are called crannogs.

Lake Dwellings are first mentioned in history by Herodotus, who speaks of a curious habitation in Lake Prasias, which was impregnable to all the military resources of a Persian army. Hippocrates also tells us that this type of habitation was employed in his day by the Phasians, who sailed to them in single-tree canoes. In 1567, O’Neil, in Ireland, raised “the strongest castles of all his countryes, and fortifications which he only dependeth upon is in sartin ffreshwater loghes in his country, which from the sea there come neither ship nor boat to approach them: it is thought that there in the said fortified islands lyeth all his plate, which is much, and money, prisoners and gayes.”

The crannogs were first brought to notice in 1857, altho there had previously been scattered references to piled islands, some of which had been recorded for many years.

The platform of the crannogs- of Scotland were strengthened by driving piles into the lake, before beginning to erect the structure. Shallow places in the loch were chosen. If on an island where the earth was soft or muddy logs were used, and then strengthened with stone.

All the lochs of Mull, of any size reveal the remains of these habitations. Notices have been made of those in Lochs Assapol, Frisa and Ba. In Loch Ba, belonging to the estate of J. W. Melles, of Grulin, is one in the shape of a small island and remains of two others below the level of the loch. The only crannog that has received special attention is the one formerly in Loch na Mial, about a mile south of Tobermory, and about one hundred and fifty feet above sea level. This loch contained fifty acres. This loch was drained about the year 1868. The depth of water was about six feet. Under the water the mud was of great depth. Four feet under the surface of the mud, a canoe of black oak was found, seventeen feet long and three and one half feet beam, quite fresh and sound. Also several other canoes of smaller size, but near the surface of the mud, and in a half decayed state. Three boats, of modern clinker-built construction, of whose history, unknown to the natives, were also found. Close to the site of the large canoe, and at the same depth, was a stone causeway laid upon oak trees, which led direct to the artificial island.- This island was formed of a quantity of loose stone, on the only rock near the surface of the water in the whole loch. The large canoe was put into the sea, in order to preserve it from cracking. In 1883 all trace of the canoe had been lost.

The crannog in Loch Assapol is at the point next to Bun-essan, and about twenty yards from the shore, consisting of a huge mass of round and shapeless boulders, seen a little below the surface of the water. Old people in Mull remember having seen a large part of the ruins above water. A clachan leads from the shore to the ancient ruins, but a little submerged.

In 1615 Sir James MacDonald built a fort on a small island in a fresh water loch in Colonsay.

That the crannogs were used by the islanders as late-, as 1608, is proved from the fact the Scottish Privy Council, among other things demanded the delivery by the chiefs of all “houses of defence, strongholds, and crannaks,” to be placed at the king’s disposal.    .

It is more than probable that the crannogs of Mull were used simply from choice, or else for safety against wild animals.

Implements: Articles made out of stone, and other material, have been found in different parts of the isle. Some of these doubtless are quite modern, and others may be reĽ-ferred to a remote period. Unfortunately such as have been reported are of little value, because attention has not been given to the position of the relic when found.

Arrow heads are the most numerous of such relics as have been found. If said arrow point occurs on the surface its date may be remote, or comparatively recent. Arrows were used even during the fifteenth century. In August 1887 I examined the stone arrow points in the private museum at Loch Buy House. There were but few, quite rude, and but little known of the find. They were from the immediate vicinity, and of various kinds of stone presenting no special or attractive peculiarity.

On the farm of Callachally, Glen Forsa, the following relics were found: a polished stone object of greenstone, three and one fourth inches long, one and one fourth inch in. breadth, and decreasing in thickness from about one eighth of an inch in the middle towards the two ends, which are not more than one sixteenth of an inch in thickness. It is pierced by a hole at either end, which is counter sunk on both sides, but greater on one side than on the other. (See illustration Fig 28). There was an urn of the drinking-cup type, six and one half inches high and six inches wide at the mouth (much broken), ornamented with narrow parallel bands of chevrons and short intersecting lines. The broad bands between these are filled in with a series of acutely-pointed triangular spaces, alternately plain, and filled with chevroy pattern. The lines forming the long equal sides of those triangles appear to have been stamped with the teeth of a comb. Fragments of another urn of similar character, but different in its ornamentation, which consists of angular scorings all over the surface, and towards the top a band of triangular spaces alternating plain and filled with parallel lines. Two fragments, apparently of a bronze dagger, found with the urns. These relics do not antedate the bronze age.

From a cist in Mull (location not given) a human skull and an urn of food-vessel type, six and one fourth inches in height, and six inches in diameter at the mouth, ornamented on the sloping part with circular impressions about three-sixteenths inch in diameter, and on the upright part above the shoulder with similar impressions and scored lines arranged in triangular patterns. The type and measurements of skull not given. Probably of Bronze Age.

Urn of food-vessel type in Society of Antiquarians Museum. It has ornamentation of double horizontal bands of impressed markings resembling those of a twisted cord, and extending to the whole exterior surface of the urn from lip to bottom, those above the shoulder, and those under the shoulder being, however, slightly different in size, and the everted lip being ornamented on the inside with a boldly impressed zigzag pattern. The urn is five and one half inches high, and five and one fourth inches in diameter at the mouth, and two and one half inches at the bottom. It was found in 1891 in a cist at Quinish. It may be ascribed to the Bronze Age.

Urn of food-vessel type, four and three-fourths inches high, much broken, ornamented with impressions of a comblike implement, arranged in zigzags all over the surface, from a cist in Ross of Mull. Probably of Bronze Age.

An ornamented brass buckle, found in Mull, is semicircular in form, and measures one and a half inches in length by one inch in breadth and about three-sixteenth inches in thickness. The semicircular edge of the buckle is channelled transversely and longitudinally, with the upper surface divided by similar channelling into four pannels, filled with rectilinear patterns.

In Volume XVII. Society of Antiquarians three bronze broaches are figured and described, stated to have come from Mull. Without further information they are simply curios. The first (Fig. 32) is highly finished and gilded with gold, and parts a thin plate of gold. It is a rare specimen. It measures from the top of the hoop to the outer edge of the ring at the opening, four inches; and in the line of the larger axis, close on the bar which lies across the hoop at the top of the broadest part of it, four and three-eights inches, forming an imperfect oval. The whole length of the acus is seven inches. At the head, in front, it has a broad quadrangular plate, one inch long and seven-eights of an inch broad. There are settings for twenty-one studs—sixteen on the hoop and five on the acus. There are representations of six complete, grotesque, fabulous reptilian forms, and of five heads of the same. The simple lines which bring out these forms are clean, clear, distinct, and very graceful and effective. The other decorations consist of the twisted strap, or interlaced-work, and a chain-like ornament.

The next brooch is much smaller, its ornamentation not rich, characteristic figures wanting, and interlaced tracing not complicated.

The third brooch measures two and three-fourths inches in diameter, and the pin five inches in length.

The reverse side is destitute of ornamentation, and the obverse is simple but near. The first and third brooches are now in the New College Museum.

An octagonal Highland brooch of silver, inlaid with niello, ornamented with figures of animals, foliage and flowers, and bearing the inscription I H C N (Ihesus Nazarenus) found in Mull, now in the museum of the Society of Antiquaries.

A very fine silver brooch was found about the year 1850, at Kengharair, Kilmore, Mull. It consists of a flattened ring of silver, three-fourths of an inch at its broadest, and three-eighths at its narrowest part. The outside rim is octagonal, the inside rim is a circle with a diameter of two and three-eighths inches. The arcs introduced to indicate the octagon on the outside edge are segments of a large circle. In the ornamentation may be noticed human-headed zoomorphs, lozenge on geometric pattern, and dragonesque forms.

MacLean Hroclie:    It    is probable that nearly all the remains of man in Mull were executed by native workmen. That skilled artisans were on the isle is evidenced by a MacLean broche, herewith figured. It belonged to the MacLeans of Loch Buy and is now in the British Museum. It is made out of silver, said to have been found on the estate. The workmanship probably belongs to the time of the reign of Queen Mary. The brooche is about five inches in diameter at the base. Round the upper margin is a low upright rim, within which are ten obelisks, about one and a quarter inch high, finely studded, and the top of all ornamented with a river pearl. These surround a second rim, from which rises a neat case, the sides of which project into ten demi-rounders, all neatly studded. In the -center is a round crystalline ball, a magical gem. This case may be removed, showing a considerable hollow.

Ecclesiastical Remains:    When the size of the island of Mull is considered, a disappointment is felt on viewing the number and state of all ecclesiastical remains. Islands that do not compare with it contain remains of more or less magnitude and interest. Interest in those in Mull rests solely on the age in which they were constructed. Although the isle of Iona is close at hand, with the ruins which are great, and have invited attention, and many volumes have been written concerning them, it might be thought an overflow would have produced better results. True the location was such that the monks of Iona could conveniently attend to all religious matters, and the number of chapels indicate that the people were not neglected. Iona absorbed from Mull, far greater than it bestowed. Spiritual advisers would naturally seek the influence and advantages of Iona to the loss and neglect of Mull.

The island of Mull offers no ruins of a catherdal nor even a chapel of any pretensions. Such as still remain must belong to a period ante-dating the Protestant-Reformation in Scotland, and possibly coeval with the existence of the columhan religion in the sacred isle of Iona. It would be difficult to prove how many chapels formerly were in Mull, or even at one period of time. Place names appear to indicate religious houses, that, at this time, only exist in the name of the chapel.

It is stated that Cathedrals and other places of worship in the British Isles were formerly constructed either on or else near the sites of pre-historic remains, doubtless owing to utilizing the material of the former structures, in the erection of the later buildings.

The ruined chapel of Pennygown is located about one and one half miles east of Salen on the road to Craigmore. Its internal dimensions are forty by seventeen feet. The altar is at the east end. The walls are composed of basalt and felston?, of the same kind as that of the immediate neighborhood. The carved work of the doors and windows are wrought out of freestone, brought from Gribun, or Inch Kenneth, or Morvern, probably the last named. The same material is similarly employed in the buildings of Iona. The only door is in the southwest wall; its dimensions being six feet, three inches high by two feet ten inches broad. .The door is round-headed, and surrounded by a continuous, simple roll-moulding. There are indications of hinges, but no bar-hole. There are three windows, all round-headed lancets, surrounded by roll-moulding. The western window is forty inches high by six inches broad. The other two windows are forty-five in'ches high by six inches broad, and situated in the east end of the north and south walls respectively, so as to overlook the altar. No vest-age of the altar remains. In the east wall, on the south side of the altar, is a small ambry, fourteen inches high by twelve inches broad. At the west end are two very rude corbels for the support of an arch. Inside the chapel, and facing the altar, is the fragment of a cross, still erect,—the material being a fine-grained black mica-schist. This fragment is forty inches high. This chapel probably belongs to the thirteenth century.

At the head of Loch Buy, and on the plain of Laggan is a well preserved chapel, interior thirty-five feet long. On the north side is a long lanciform window flush with the wall, the head of one stone, and a round-headed doorway, the head also of one stone. The east end of the south side has a long narrow round-headed window, and the west end a blocked one of uncertain form, surmounted by a dripstone returned a short way down the sides; the east end is blank, and seems to have been extensively rebuilt. Lying inside is the basin of an octagonal font. This chapel is now used by the Maclaines’ of Loch Buy for a private mausoleum,

Some little distance from the far end of Loch Assapol, looking east-ward, and near to the south side of the Ross of Mull, are the side walls of a very rudely constructed chapel of medium size, known as Kilvicean, placed in the center of an ancient burying ground.

In point of architecture the chapel bears a strong resemblance to St. Oran’s in Iona; but probably belongs to a later age. The walls are strongly built of unhewn stone, small slabs of whin and mica-schist, with an occasional granite boulder, buried in mortar produced from shells, but forming a solid concrete mass which has withstood the ravages of centuries. There is a tradition which narrates that the material was carried from the sea-shore, nearly a mile away; that a long cordon of men extending from the building to the sea, and every stone was passed along from one to the other, until the last man dropped it near the workmen. At one time the now desolate spot was the center of a thriving, industrious community, that led a simple life, gaining its subsistence from the products of the soil and sea. All the evidence of that people is now pointed out in the ruins of their house of worship and such parts of their cottages which have not been taken for fence rows.

At Tobermory are some traces of the old church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, or else to St. Maelrubha. In the old burying-ground at Killinaline, finely situated near Aros, are the foundations of a small chapel. At Killean, a secluded spot between Loch Don and Loch Spelve, near the southeast corner of Mull, are scant remains of a small chapel. There are the ruins of a nameless chapel on Carsaig Bay.

At Kilfinichen, on the north side of Loch Scridain, in the Ross of Mull, there are no traces of the church which was dedicated to St. Fincaria the Virgin, one of the nine daughters of St. Dovenald. Killenaok, or Killinaig, or Kilchianaig, in the lower part of the Ross of Mull, appears to have been the site of a chapel, but no remains occur there. The chapel Kilpatrick stood near Duard Castle, Kilbeg on Loch Spelve, Drum na cille between Fishnish and Scallastle, one somewhere along Loch na keal, and between that and the north coast, Kilbrennain, Killichronain, Kilmore, Kilninian and Kellon.

In all probability an ancient burial-ground was connected with every chapel. Some of these burial-grounds may still be traced, notably at Kilviceon, Kilpatrick, Tobermory, and likewise inscribed slabs of stone and crosses.

Sculptured Stones: Some of the ancient grave yards yield memorial slabs, which are usually called “Iona Stones,” under the supposition that they were rifled from Iona, after the destruction of the religious houses on that isle. True, some affirmed that they were originally sent from that isle by the brethren, to the several districts, as a mark of the high sense of the worth, zeal and devotion to duty of those on whose graves they rest. Still others claim that they were marketable articles, which, with their quaint devices, elaborate tracery, symbolic representation, had been prepared by the monks, who, by this craft, made a part of the living. It has further been suggested that the work is simply a local art, and to prove this it is asserted that neither in Mull nor on the mainland no two are found precisely alike. The slabs are usually composed of soft cretaceous sandstone; and generally decorated with foliagenous scroll-work.

While it is probable that grave yards were at or near all the chapels, and tombs of various descriptions were placed m all, yet inscribed stones are not of frequent occurrence. Time has not been merciful with them. The north of Mull has been the richest field in this department. Some of the specimens only will be noted.

Kilinailean:    The    old grave yard of Kilinailean is located on the northern slope of Glen Aros, about half a mile from the highway between Tobermory and Salen, and not far from Aros River. There is a slab here six feet by one and one half feet. On it are four intertwisted running stems, which rise from animal forms too much defaced to be made out. Foliageous work fills the stone, with the exception of a panel one foot square at the top, which is filled with five circular crosses of interlaced work, a large one in the center, and a small one at either corner. The slab is surrounded with a double roll moulding, a row of the nail-head ornament lying between. In the median line of the foliage is the figure of a sword.

There is also a fragment of a slab, twenty-three inches by eleven inches, in the same grounds. The ornament is a pretty undulating stem with semi-circular branchlets. There is a part of a blade of a sword in the median line of the stone. There is also a small slab, with the figure of a child’s skull well outlined.

There are two very interesting slabs, illustrations of which are here given (See Fig. 38). The longer of the two is five feet five inches in length and sixteen inches in breadth, of unusual type and rudely executed. The other belongs to the usual type of the Highland grave slab, though the foliag-enous ornamentation is more delicate, and the graceful form of the sword more striking.

Tobermory: The ornamented slabs near Tobermory present a variety, especially in an ecclesiastical sense. A very fine type is given in Fig. 39. It is seven feet by one foot ten inches, surrounded by a three inch moulding, consisting of three plain bands, lying outside of an inch space near the ornamentation, from which it is separated by a narrow plain band. This space, on the lower part of the slab, is ornamented at regular intervals with triple circles, lozenges and squares. At the bottom of the slab is a panel, two feet two inches broad, filled with foliageous work, consisting of four intertwisting stems with recurved clasping leaves. Above this is a four inch wide panel running across the stone, bearing the figure of a single-edged comb, and of two circular objects. Higher up is another panel, seventeen and one half inches by seventeen, filled also with foliageous work, arranged so as to produce a very graceful effect. In the center are two concentric circles, the diameter of the outer being three and one eighth inches, and that of the inner two inches. Towards these eight floriated rods, with sub-spatulate points, proceed from near the edge of the panel, at regular intervals, and pass through the circumference of both circles, but the center is left free. These rods are united by the intertwisting of a single leaf of one with a single leaf of another throughout the eight,—thus presenting to each other a concave edge, while the rest are left free. The uppermost panel is two feet three inches by one foot four inches, and consists of a double Gothic canopy, the niches containing two figures in the attitude of prayer. The center pillar bears a pearshaped finial, and the pointed arches of the niches are terminated by the lleur de lis. Once there was an inscription 011 the slab of old English characters, but now so defaced that only the words Anno Dimini can be distinctly traced.

In the same churchyard is a fragment of a slab, bearing a square pattern of floriated work. It contains two concentric circles, surrounded by eight floriated rods, the whole presenting a pretty though simple effect.

Kilmore: The carved slab in the Kilmore church yard must have been placed erect, for the ornamentation is on both sides. The illustration (Fig. 40) gives a view of the ornamentation. It is five feet four inches long by eleven and one half inches at the bottom and ten inches at the top. The head piece is thirteen inches at its widest part.

Kilninian:  The slab at Kilninian is six feet by sixteen inches. At the top is a panel with a large circular cross of interlaced work surrounded with four crosses, from which the running pattern of four intertwisted stems arise, which nearly fills the rest of the slab. The interspaces formed by the intertwisting are filled with a conventional leaf pattern, while on the outside of the stem, at the place of twisting, are leaves curving towards the edge of the stone. At the bottom is the so-called tallet, and at right angles to it the shears. In the same yard is another slab ornamented with four intertwisted stems, each sending off near the junction tendrils which intertwist, and four spaces filled with foliage. This slab is much defaced at the bottom, but near it a well-marked Latin cross can be made out.

Pennygown:    Near the Sound of Mull at the opening of Glen Forsa, are two slabs, one being upright, three feet two inches by one foot two inches at the bottom and one foot at the top surrounded with flat moulding running pattern of fol-iageous work on one stem, forming sub-circular spaces, inside of which are three trifolicate branchlets. The stem proceeds from the tail of a griffin at the bottom of the slab. On the other side of the slab is a figure of the Virgin and Child. The stone terminates in blunted ovals at either side.

There is another slab five feet by thirteen and a half inches surrounded by a raised band of nail-head moulding. The shears ornament lies across the stone at the bottom.

There is another record stating that on the outside of the ruined chapel of Pennygown, occur two slabs of cretaceous sandstone, which had formed the tops of altar-tombs. The figures are in altorelievo, but rudely executed. One figure is that of a knight lying with his head resting on a square pillow, his toes turned outwards, right hand grasps the pommel of his sheathed sword, and his left holds a long dagger that lies along his left thigh. The other figure is that of a lady, head resting on a square pillow, and body clothed in a simple dress. Her toes are turned outwards and* her arms lie across the body.

Crosses: An island so great as Mull, and so many remains of chapels, causes a disappointment in the paucity of crosses, notwithstanding all have passed through an iconoclastic age, characterized by a destructive religious frenzy. Such crosses as are known are here given.

The most celebrated cross of Mull, and one that gives its name to a district, and a title to a laird, is Pennycross. It stands near the road which traverses the island from Loch Don to Bunessan, and about eight miles from the latter place, and near the southern shore of Loch Scridain. This cross is rudely cut out of a block of slate, not belonging to the island. It is fixed by a well-cut mortice into a square block of Gribun sandstone, which rests on a pyramidal pile of basalt blocks from the immedite vicinity. The shaft is four feet six inches high, and the pile of stones five feet high. There are many scribblings on the cross, and on the east face are incised letters and a date, as indicated in the sketch. No knowledge exists concerning its history. Its origin is long posterior to the writings, though the latter, from the character of the letters appears to be a genuine inscription of an early period. There is a tradition that it was erected to the memory of one of the famous Beatons, that family being noted for success in the healing art. This belief probably owes its origin to the letters on the stone.

Kilmoluag: At Treshinish, near the mouth of Calgary Bay, in the center of the old burial ground of ‘Kilmoluag, is a plain cross three feet in height

Nun's Cave:    There are ancient crosses on the walls of the Nun’s Cave, near Carsaig. I visited this cave in 1887 in company with the late Archibald John Maclean of Pennycross1, and observed all the exposed crosses, and cleared the faces of others, and took rubbings of quite a number. The crosses are all small and incised on the natural walls of the rock. Some are simply formed of one short line crossing near the upper part of another and longer line. Others have a circle formed at the intersection of the arms, and still another has a somewhat circular head, with the top and the transverse limbs of the cross projecting through it, four loops or openings being indicated at the intersection of the different parts.

The names Ardnacroish and Achenacroish would indicate the existance of a cross respectively in these two localities. No trace of them otherwise has been found.


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