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Eilean Fhianain, St Finnan's church and stone crosses

A Scheduled Monument in Fort William and Ardnamurchan, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.7523 / 56°45'8"N

Longitude: -5.6785 / 5°40'42"W

OS Eastings: 175207

OS Northings: 768340

OS Grid: NM752683

Mapcode National: GBR DBCW.1QQ

Mapcode Global: WH0DQ.RJ4Y

Entry Name: Eilean Fhianain, St Finnan's church and stone crosses

Scheduled Date: 11 December 1995

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6255

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: cross (free-standing); Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard

Location: Arisaig and Moidart

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Fort William and Ardnamurchan

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

Description

The monument consists of the remains of the medieval church of St Finnan and an area of the burial ground which contains several large stone crosses, situated on the Burial Isle of Eilean Fhianain in Loch Shiel.

The ancient parish Eilean-Finan, now included in Ardnamurchan, took its name from the island. The medieval church may stand on the site of a cell thought to have been built on the island by St Finnan in the seventh century. The island was a burial place of Clan Ranald until the end of the sixteenth century and the church is thought to

have been built by Alan MacRuaridh, a Clan Chief. The building fell into ruin in the mid seventeenth century. It is of random-coursed rubble masonry, and measures 20.8m E-W by 5.8m N-S within walls 0.95m thick and about 2m in maximum height. The walls are much reduced and have been repaired over the years, although some areas of original masonry survive. No dressings survive. There have been four windows in the N wall and near the E end is a square aumbry. In the S wall are traces of three windows and an entrance towards the W end. The W wall had a central window. The E end of the church contains a large stone altar table, a stone crucifix set into a wall recess and a

small medieval bell. The interior of the church is filled with burials, including one late medieval stone with a central claymore and foliate design. 50m to the N of the church, amongst congested plain grave markers and a cross-incised stone are five upright stone crosses of rudimentary but monumental execution and of varying style.

Two areas are to be scheduled: an irregular area containing the stone crosses, measuring a maximum of 40m E-W by 25m N-S; and a rectangular area including the church, extending 6m from the exterior walls and measuring a maximum of 30m E-W by 15m N-S, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling excludes all lairs for which rights of burial still exist.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a fine example in a relatively isolated context of a burial ground and Christian religious centre with continuity of use from the seventh century until the present day. The island may provide evidence for Early Christian monastic occupation and has the potential to produce further evidence, through excavation, for the potential evolution and diffusion of the Celtic Church emanating from Iona. Of additional importance due to the insight they provide into the material culture of the Early Medieval period are the monumental stone crosses and the remains of the Medieval, albeit much repaired, church within which are preserved the stone altar, carved wall-crucifix and bell.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NM 76 NE 1.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

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