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Inverewe Old Church, burial ground and symbol stone, Poolewe

A Scheduled Monument in Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.7671 / 57°46'1"N

Longitude: -5.5992 / 5°35'57"W

OS Eastings: 186025

OS Northings: 880958

OS Grid: NG860809

Mapcode National: GBR D8K6.220

Mapcode Global: WH07X.Y1VH

Entry Name: Inverewe Old Church, burial ground and symbol stone, Poolewe

Scheduled Date: 17 November 1997

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7036

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: symbol stone; Ecclesiastical: chapel

Location: Gairloch

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh

Traditional County: Ross-shire

Description

The monument consists of the ruinous remains of a church, together with the burial ground in which it stands and in which lies a Pictish symbol stone.

The roofless remains of the church, which is aligned NW-SE, measure 12.4m long by 5.1m wide over walls 0.9m thick and are divided into two enclosures. The NE wall stands to 1.7m high and has no apparent openings, although it shows different phases of construction of different character.

The two openings in the SW wall reflect the two burial enclosures within: the western opening is featureless and may represent a breach in the wall, but the eastern opening retains the E jamb of a doorway, carved with a wave-moulding. In 1886 a stone basin, thought to have been a font, survived, together with other carved stones and the lintel of the doorway bore a date which may have read 1678.

The church was purchased by the Rev Kenneth MacKenzie in the 17th century, but is said to have been partly pulled down in 1689. The alignment of the building and the character of the remains are consistent with a 17th-century date, but there is some suggestion that the site, and possibly even the building, may be of earlier origin, and the possibility that it originated as a chapel-of-ease to Gairloch parish church cannot be excluded.

Several burial enclosures are built to the NE of the church and against its NE wall. There are turf-covered footings of what may have been a square enclosure built against its SW wall, but it appears possible that they run beneath the church in which case they may represent the remains of an earlier church on the site.

The burial ground is circular on plan and therefore would appear to be of some antiquity. An earlier earth and stone bank is visible under the graveyard wall for most of its circumference and on the W side of the graveyard extends beyond the wall line for c 5m. All the old graves are in the northern part of the burial ground. Approximately 5m NW of the NW wall of the church is a recumbent stone with Pictish symbols incised in the surface.

The symbols are the crescent and V-rod, with - unusually - an arc of small holes within the crescent. Pictish symbols are normally found in pairs, but it is not known whether any other of the faces bear symbols. The stone is the most northerly Class I symbol stone to have been found on the west coast of the Scottish mainland, apart from a disputed stone dug up at Ullapool.

The burial ground is also known as the Londubh burial ground. The area to be scheduled includes the remains of the church (and associated burial enclosures), the symbol stone, the whole of the burial ground and part of the arable field on the N and W sides of the graveyard as indicated in red on the accompanying map. It excludes all lairs with existing rights of burial.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the remains of a small church of probable 17th-century date which may incorporate or over-lie the remains of a medieval chapel, together with part of its associated burial ground and a stone carved with Pictish symbols.

Study of its remains has the potential to add to our knowledge of burial practices and of ecclesiastical architecture and liturgical arrangements in the early post-Reformation period, a time of great flux in ecclesiastical organisation, and potentially also in the medieval period, as well as to our knowledge of the distribution and function of Pictish symbol stones.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NG 88 SE 10.

Reference:

RCAHMS 'Pictish Symbol Stones: A Handlist' 16.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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