Baille nan Cailleach

Nunton, Isle Of Benbecula, Outer Hebrides, HS7 5LU

Type:Monuments & Ruins

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Image © Copyright Gordon Hatton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Only in the late 12th century with the end of Norse colonisation and settlement do the first outlines of church history on Benbecula emerge. From Somerled (d. 1164) descended the leading dynasties that were to rule the Hebrides and the territory of the Lordship of the Isles until the late 15th century. A key aspect of their power was patronage of the church and in particular their support of Iona.

A new Benedictine community of monks was established on Iona In 1203 by Reginald, son of Somerled, which gained control over all the churches in the Hebrides. Over time it also acquired lands in the Uists, including Baile a' Mhanaich, 'the township belonging to the monks'. Reginald also founded a convent of Augustinian canonesses on Iona with his sister, Behoc, as the first prioress. His son, Donald, was one of its earliest benefactors. Having travelled to Rome to repent to the Pope for a wild and violent life, Donald returned to Scotland to make amends through church patronage. This included granting the island of Heisgeir to the nuns of Iona. The other portion of land in the Uists granted to the Iona convent was Baile nan Cailleach, hence its name, meaning the 'township belonging to the nuns', The dedication of the chapel, Teampull Mhuire, to the Virgin Mary, underlines this link.

Patronage enabled the church to fulfil its core function of spiritual and pastoral care, through a resident ordained clergy and access to Mass and the sacraments. It is unclear how this operated within the islands at a local level but the burial ground of Cladh Mhuire would have been integral to it.

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What's Nearby

  1. Ruined Chapel dating back to the 16th Century

    0.09 miles away
  2. Culla bay beach is a stunning white sandy beach and can be accessed from Nunton or Aird.

    0.34 miles away
  3. Ruins of Teampull Chaluim Chille to the east of Balivanich.

    1.03 miles away
  1. Just a stones throw from the airport, this magnifient beach is well worth a visit and is…

    1.82 miles away
  2. Borve Castle stood three storeys high. Now in ruins you can still see the five foot deep…

    2.13 miles away
  3. Benbecula War Memorial

    2.5 miles away
  4. Museum nan Eilean is part of the Heritage Service operated by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar…

    2.63 miles away
  5. Liniclate beach is a stunning white sandy beach and can be accessed from the village of…

    2.77 miles away
  6. This is the panoramic view from the top of Rueval (Ruabhal), which is the highest point…

    3.62 miles away
  7. Balleshare beach is easily accessed from the village of Baleshare.

    4.56 miles away
  8. Along the west coast of South Uist is an approx. 20 mile strip of stunning white beach…

    4.68 miles away
  9. Ruins of a Medival early church, Teampull Na Trionaid, can be found in the village of…

    5.02 miles away
  10. 250 metres from the main road (which itself dissects the remains of a stone circle at NF…

    5.73 miles away
  11. Reflections is part of the Uist Sculpture Trail.

    6 miles away
  12. Remains of a wheelhouse dating back to the iron age can be seen in Grimsay.

    6.57 miles away
  13. The Island of Grimsay is made up of tidal sands, sea lochs, small islands and islets, and…

    6.7 miles away
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