Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Glencroft, chapel site 85m north east of, Islay

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

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »
Street or Overhead View
Contributor Photos »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.

Coordinates

Latitude: 55.7692 / 55°46'9"N

Longitude: -6.3579 / 6°21'28"W

OS Eastings: 126774

OS Northings: 661478

OS Grid: NR267614

Mapcode National: GBR BFPG.GL9

Mapcode Global: WGYGZ.98N2

Entry Name: Glencroft, chapel site 85m NE of, Islay

Scheduled Date: 2 December 1963

Last Amended: 16 July 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2365

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: chapel

Location: Kilchoman

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Kintyre and the Islands

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of an early medieval chapel and burial ground, dating probably from sometime between the 10th and 14th centuries. Visible as a low turf-covered wall outline, the chapel measures 4.2m E-W by 2.5m transversely, within collapsed walls surviving up to 0.5m high and spread to 1m wide. The burial ground surrounding the chapel is roughly rectangular in shape, measuring about 23m N-S by 22m transversely; it is enclosed by a stone wall surviving up to 0.7m high on the N side. The monument lies within rough grassland adjacent to the coast, separated from the sea to the E by a drystone dyke and the A847 trunk road. The monument was last 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. The remains of the drystone wall and a post-and-wire fence along the E boundary of the site are specifically excluded from the scheduling to allow for their maintenance.

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 good condition. The chapel is of drystone or clay-mortared construction, and an entrance is located in the centre of the W wall of the structure. The substantial enclosure surrounding the chapel represents the remains of a burial ground, with an entrance possibly in the SW side. The ground within the interior of the burial enclosure is uneven and raised slightly above the surrounding land, possibly indicating a long period of use. One plain stone grave marker is visible in the burial ground, NE of the chapel.

The only reported finds from the site are several shipwreck burials of probable late 19th-century date. The absence of recorded early Christian or medieval burials or other evidence makes it difficult to ascertain the chronology and development sequence of the site, but parallels with similar sites elsewhere in Islay suggests that the chapel dates probably from sometime during the 10th-14th centuries. Future excavation could enhance our understanding of the origins and development sequence of the site and of the relationship between the chapel and surrounding burial ground. Excavations at similar sites elsewhere in Scotland and Ireland have revealed varied but rich archaeological remains. Given that this chapel and burial ground appear largely undisturbed, there is high potential for the survival of early Christian or medieval deposits and features that 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 beneath the ground surface, which could help us to refine the dating of the site and contribute towards our understanding of early medieval art and sculpture. The monument has the potential to enhance our understanding of the spread of Christianity in Argyll.

Contextual characteristics

This is a fine example of a small early Christian chapel and burial ground, with a coastal location offering fine views to the E over Loch Indaal. Small rural chapels with surrounding burial grounds are particularly common in Islay, with at least 15 known examples. These include other sites close to the sea, at Cladh Cill Iain and Nereabolls, approximately 7km to the SW. Such sites 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 this site, in comparison with similar examples in Islay, could also 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 of a burial ground is depicted on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map and the name 'Cill Uillean' has previously been recorded here, although more recently this place-name has been removed by the Ordnance Survey. The place-name 'Cill' is Gaelic, meaning 'church' or 'burial ground' and supports the suggestion that this site may have 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 at the site to serve the lay population. Important archaeological remains relating to the origins, use and development of the site in the early medieval 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

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as NR26SE 1. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR reference is WOSASPIN 2020

References

RCAHMS 1984a, 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, pp. 158-9, no. 320.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

AncientMonuments.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact AncientMonuments.uk for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself.

AncientMonuments.uk is a Good Stuff website.