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Cill an t-Suidhe, burial enclosure 145m south of Newfield

A Scheduled Monument in Oban North and Lorn, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 56.5073 / 56°30'26"N

Longitude: -5.4982 / 5°29'53"W

OS Eastings: 184834

OS Northings: 740507

OS Grid: NM848405

Mapcode National: GBR DCTJ.09R

Mapcode Global: WH0FZ.JP0T

Entry Name: Cill an t-Suidhe, burial enclosure 145m S of Newfield

Scheduled Date: 14 August 1961

Last Amended: 7 February 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2126

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard

Location: Lismore and Appin

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban North and Lorn

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises the remains of a burial ground and possible chapel site. It survives as a low earthwork bank and external ditch enclosing a sub-circular interior. It is believed to be early Christian in origin and may date from the second half of the first millennium AD. The interior is approximately 40m in diameter. A ditch, 2.5m wide in places, surrounds the burial ground. A later drystone wall bisects the monument WNW to ESE. The burial ground lies on rough grazing land at approximately 30m above sea level. It is located on the E side of the island of Lismore and overlooks the Lynn of Lorn and the Argyll mainland to the SE. The monument was originally scheduled in 1961, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, measuring 60m in diameter, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction and use may survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground remains of the drystone wall to allow for its maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument survives in relatively good condition overall. The enclosing bank and ditch are intact and there is no evidence of disturbance of the interior other than by vegetation: the interior has been colonised by rushes and wild iris. The enclosing bank, though slight in places, appears uninterrupted and is best preserved on the E and W sides. The external ditch is also slight and in places its outer edge is difficult to distinguish from the surrounding landform. There is no visible entrance through the bank or ditch. The topography of the site suggests that the interior has been built up, which may indicate the presence of significant buried remains, including burials or structures, although no features are visible on the surface today.

Cill an-t-Suidhe burial ground appears to belong to a class of circular or near circular ditched enclosures for which an early Christian origin has been postulated. Both the place name and morphology of the site support this suggestion, although nothing is known of the history of the site and it is possible, albeit less likely, that this is a medieval chapel and burial ground or a post-medieval burial place. The place name indicates that there was once a church here and researchers have suggested this is the site of the former chapel of Killean, which is reputed to have stood hereabouts; its dedication was presumably to St John.

There is a high likelihood that significant archaeological features and structures survive in the buried layers, including burials, burial structures, grave-markers and, possibly, the remains of an early church. The site is poorly drained, which means there is high potential for any archaeological remains to be well preserved in possibly anaerobic (waterlogged) conditions. It has been suggested that some burials may have been moved here from the mainland to avoid their disturbance by animals. The monument is of particular interest because it could enhance our understanding of early medieval ecclesiastical sites and burial practices, and could provide information about the health, diet, lifestyle and life expectancy of the early medieval population through scientific analysis of any human remains. The external ditch is also likely to contain important archaeological evidence, including artefacts and palaeoenvironmental information.

Contextual characteristics

This site is closely comparable in scale and morphology to another sub-circular burial ground on Lismore, at Clachan, which lies only 2.6km NNE of Cill an-t-Suidhe. A recent archaeological survey at Clachan has revealed a more complex set of features than anticipated, including a rectilinear structure or building abutting its NW side and a possible platform in the interior. A second chapel site at Killandrist supposedly lies on the shores of Loch Baile na Ghobhainn, about 350m SE of that at Clachan. Another chapel site and holy well is located at Port Moluag, some 3.5km NE of Cill an-t-Suidhe.

Lismore therefore has several ecclesiastical sites in the northern half of the island, including St Moluag's Cathedral, 3.2km NNE of Cill an-t-Suidhe, which would have been the main focus of ecclesiastical life on the island. Cill an-t-Suidhe is positioned fairly centrally on the island and is likely to have been locally important. Another chapel and burial ground lies on the small island of Bernera, just off the SW coast of Lismore, about 5km W of Cill an-t-Suidhe. No early ecclesiastical sites are known in the southern half of Lismore.

The site overlooks a series of cliffs dropping eastwards towards the sea. Higher ground to the W precludes views in that direction, but there are wide views to the E towards Appin and Benderloch on the mainland. The Iron Age duns of Sean Dun and Dun Mor lie respectively 660m to the SSW and 1.1km to the WSW, in similar topographical locations. A massive bronze armlet of Iron Age date was found near to Cill an-t-Suidhe, while digging in advance of building an extension to the farmhouse at Newfield. This type of armlet dates to around AD 80-200 and is often found in votive deposits, which may indicate that the vicinity of Cill an-t-Suidhe also had some religious or ritual significance in pre-Christian times.

Associative characteristics

The site is named as 'Cill an-t-Suidhe (burial ground) (disused)' on the OS second edition map.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance as a good example of a burial ground of probable early Christian date and because the place name 'Cill' indicates there was also a church or chapel on this site at some stage of its existence. Its significance is enhanced as one of several early Christian sites in Lismore and Bernera, which together could elucidate our understanding of the organisation of the early Church. Significant buried archaeological remains are expected to survive, some of which may be well preserved because of the likely waterlogged nature of some deposits. There is high potential for the presence of early medieval and possibly later burials within the enclosure, as well as possibly the remains of a church or chapel. The loss of the site would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the impact and organisation of Christianity in early medieval Scotland and the character of early Christian burial and ecclesiastical sites.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as CANMORE 23107. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR reference is WOSASPIN 1295.


Stoddart, S (ed) 2005 'Lismore Landscape Project: Data Structure Report', p 73-4 (unpubl).

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1975, Argyll: an inventory of the monuments volume 2: Lorn, p 118, no 229. Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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