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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.

What's Nearby

  1. Teampull Mhoire

    Ruined Chapel dating back to the 16th Century

    0.09 miles away
  2. The current steading was built in the early 1700’s; originally the site was part of a…

    0.17 miles away
  3. Long Tailed Duck - Culla Bay

    The long-tailed duck is a small, neat sea duck. They have small round heads and steep…

    0.26 miles away
  1. 27th April 1746. The Captain of Clanranald at Nunton House hears news of the Prince's…

    0.28 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. This elusive, grey and brown bird is slightly smaller than a moorhen and found around…

    0.52 miles away
  4. This small bay holds Eiders throughout the year.

    0.97 miles away
  5. Teampull Chaluim Chille

    Ruins of Teampull Chaluim Chille to the east of Balivanich.

    1.03 miles away
  6. An iconic structure built in the early 1970s to service the RAF station in Balivanich.

    1.15 miles away
  7. Scan this freshwater loch from the roadside

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

    1.82 miles away
  9. Often encountered at the roadside during the morning and late evenings from May - July.

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

    2.13 miles away
  11. The Great Yellow Bumblebee is a large bee with a yellow or brownish yellow body with a…

    2.32 miles away
  12. Benbecula War Memorial

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

    2.63 miles away
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