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Cill Ronain, chapel site 380m north of Braigo, Islay

A Scheduled Monument in Kintyre and the Islands, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 55.8407 / 55°50'26"N

Longitude: -6.4186 / 6°25'7"W

OS Eastings: 123477

OS Northings: 669669

OS Grid: NR234696

Mapcode National: GBR BFJ8.QRK

Mapcode Global: WGYGK.CGQ8

Entry Name: Cill Ronain, chapel site 380m N of Braigo, Islay

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1963

Last Amended: 31 May 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2354

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: chapel

Location: Kilchoman

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Kintyre and the Islands

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises the remains of an early medieval chapel and surrounding burial ground. The monument is visible as a roughly circular, turf-covered earth and stone-walled enclosure, measuring 25m N-S by 21m transversely, with evidence of an internal building believed to be a chapel and a surrounding outer ditch. The monument is situated approximately 30m above sea level within rough grassland, immediately adjacent to a public road (the B8018). The monument was first scheduled in 1963, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan. It includes 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. All the above-ground remains of post-and-wire fences are specifically excluded from the scheduling.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The chapel and burial ground are in relatively good condition. The interior of the enclosure is uneven and raised approximately 0.8m above the surrounding land by a turf-covered revetment with possible surrounding ditch. A level area within the enclosure measuring around 8m by 5m is believed to mark the site of a chapel, which probably had drystone walls. Stones are visible on the ground surface and can be discerned beneath the turf. Although there are no clear signs of grave-markers today, two plain stone grave-markers were visible in 1973 and one was observed in 1978.

The chapel and burial ground at Cill Ronain appear to be undisturbed by earlier excavations or alterations and survive largely intact. In the absence of any recorded discoveries of carved stones or other archaeological evidence, the chronology of the chapel site and burial ground is unclear. Parallels elsewhere in Islay suggest that it is likely to have been founded sometime between the 10th and 14th centuries. Future excavation at Cill Ronain could enhance our understanding of the development sequence and duration of use of the site. Excavations at similar sites elsewhere in Scotland and Ireland have revealed varied, but rich archaeological remains. Given that Cill Ronain appears largely undisturbed, there is good potential for the survival of early Christian or medieval deposits which could contribute towards our understanding of early church construction, burial practices and the origins, nature and duration of use of early ecclesiastical sites. Any skeletal remains could also reveal evidence for health, diet, illness, cause of death and possibly occupational activities. There is also potential for the survival of carved stones on the site, which could help to refine the dating sequence for the site, as well as contribute towards our understanding of early Christian art and sculpture. The monument has the potential to enhance our understanding of the organisation and spread of Christianity in Argyll.

Contextual characteristics

Cill Ronain is situated approximately 1.5km from the NW coast of the Rinns of Islay with views over the surrounding farmland. It is possible that there were other buildings in the immediate vicinity but, as the surrounding land has been in arable use in the past, visible surface features may not have survived. Small chapels and burial grounds such as Cill Ronain are particularly common in Islay, with at least 15 known examples. These include nearby sites at Kilnave, approximately 5km to the NNE, and Kilchiaran, 10km to the SSW. They provide distinctive evidence for Irish influence in Scotland during a crucial period in Scottish history and can help us to understand early politics as well as the origins and spread of Christianity. Study of Cill Ronain and comparison with similar examples in Islay could help us to gain a better understanding of the nature of religious provision for the lay population and the evolution and development of Christian centres.

Associative characteristics

The site is depicted on the first edition Ordnance Survey map as Cill Ronain 'Chapel (site of)'. The place-name 'cill' is Gaelic, meaning 'church' or 'burial ground' and supports its early origins as a place of worship for the lay population.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance as the remains of an early ecclesiastical site. The place-name indicates that a church and burial ground was constructed here to serve the lay population. Important archaeological remains relating to the origins, use and development of the site in the early Christian period are expected to survive, including burials and possibly carved stones. Its significance is enhanced by its capacity to be compared with similar sites in Islay. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our ability to understand and appreciate the origins and nature of secular worship and the development of early Christian sites in Islay and more widely across the west of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland




Celoria F 1959, Preliminary handbook to Islay, pp. 57, no. pp.1-14.

RCAHMS 1984, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the monuments volume 5: Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Oronsay, Edinburgh, p. 167, no. 339.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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