Ancient Monuments

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Sgorr nam Ban-naomha, cashel

A Scheduled Monument in Caol and Mallaig, Highland

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Latitude: 57.0471 / 57°2'49"N

Longitude: -6.5692 / 6°34'9"W

OS Eastings: 122989

OS Northings: 804388

OS Grid: NG229043

Mapcode National: GBR BB53.1SC

Mapcode Global: WGY8P.242H

Entry Name: Sgorr nam Ban-naomha, cashel

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1995

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6224

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: cashel; Industrial: mill, factory

Location: Small Isles

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Caol and Mallaig

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument consists of an approximately circular enclosure with the remains of dry-stone structures within, interpreted as being the remains of an Early Christian monastic site, possibly dating from the 7th century.

The enclosure measures 39m N-S by 32m E-W. The enclosure wall averages 1.8m in thickness and is of drystone construction; it is broken by an entrance at the S, the details of which are obscured by debris.

Within the enclosure are the remains of 3 freestanding structures and of 4 others built against the outer wall.

The largest of these, near the centre of the enclosure, measures 4.9m in diameter within a wall averaging 1.3m in thickness and surviving to a maximum height of 1.4m.

It is entered from the W through a sub-circular structure of lighter, and possibly secondary, construction. Lying to the E is another, much ruined, circular structure approximately 4.8m in diameter within walls about 1.0m thick. Within lies a low circular platform known as the 'Old Altar', still treated as a sacred place by the islanders at the end of the 19th century.

Immediately to the SE of this is a small structure, approximately 1.9m in diameter, built against the enclosure wall, and interpreted as the remains of a horizontal, or "click", mill. A stone-lined water-course is visible beneath the N half of the building, and leads from the so-called wellhouse, built against the W wall of the enclosure.

About 15m S of the enclosure are the footings of a rectangular building measuring approximately 6.8m NE-SW by 4.8m, within a wall 0.9m thick. There are traces of an entrance half way along the N wall, opposite the entrance to the enclosure, suggesting contemporary use, and it has been suggested that this may have been the church. A further ruinous wall appears to enclose this to the W, with the remainder of the perimeter formed by the edge of low cliffs.

The remains lie on a broad terrace at the foot of a cliff on the S coast of Canna. It is the furthest point W from which the probable monastic site at A'Chill is visible, and it seems likely that this was a place of retreat from the main monastic site, which has been claimed as the Hinba of St Columba.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in shape, measuring a maximum of 95m N-S by a maximum of 60m E-W, to include the main enclosure and the associated enclosure to its S. It extends 15m from the enclosure walls to N and W, and to the top of a low cliff to E and S, as defined in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the well-preserved remains of an Early Christian monastic establishment. Because the site is difficult to access and lies some way from land cultivated by subsequent generations, the remains are little disturbed. Study of the remains has the potential to increase our knowledge of the early Church in Scotland and its role within the structure of contemporary society, and also of early ecclesiastical architecture and life, and material culture, in Scotland during the Early Christian period.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NG 20 SW 2.


RCAHMS (1928) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Ninth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles, 217, No. 679, Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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