old parish kirkyard of pre-reformation origin,containing roofless l-planrubble block comprising two adjoining aisles,the larger of which is said to be the early 17th century mackenzie laird's chapel (presumably burial aisle) (the present church building,which dates from 1791,lies outwith the kirkyard.);also contains extensive series of headstones,and the burial places of uilleam ros (william ross) the gaelic bard,and of john mackenzie,author of sar obair nam bard gaidhealach (the beauties of gaelic poetry),and other figures of note.set in a wooded large hollow and enclosed by a plain stone dyke,entrance at S end of E wall,pair wrought-iron gates.interpretation of the l-plan block is probably as follows:the larger aisle is likely to be the 'chapel' (dixon,101) built by alasdair breac,5th laird of gairloch (d.1638) near the church of gairloch (dixon,43;69) in which his father,john roy,was buried in 1628.it is rectangular-plan,completely plain but for a weathered armorial panel (see notes) and a chamfered doorway off-centre on the s flank,consistent with its supposed early 17th century date;the N end wall appears to be thinner than the other three,and as the structure is orientated E-W,it is possibly part of the medieval church,reduced in length and converted as a chapel/aisle,or alternatively,set on the founds of the old church.the second aisle adjoins the north wall of the first-which it post-dates at its E end;it has ashlar quoins at its NE angle,and a chamfered doorway on its E wall.it appears to be of perhaps mid-18th century date,or earlier.other aisles/enclosures,of 19th century date,lie to the north in ground annexed to the kirkyard last century;stones of earlier date lie closer to the l-plan block,to its S;some of these are without inscriptions,a couple are decoratively carved.besides ross (1762-c1790),an outstanding gaelic poet,famous especially for his love poetry,and mackenzie (1806-1848),both mentioned above,others buried here include john hay,one of the hay family associated with the nearby ironworks established by sir george hay in the 1620's;also the mackay family of hereditary pipers to the lairds of gairloch and composers of piobaireachd,among whom 'am piobaire dall' (the blind piper,john mackay)(1656-1754)(dixon,177; mackenzie,94),was the most distinguished of the line,credited with 30 compositions,and a noted bard also.another bard,alexander campbell (1767-1843) is buried here.it is uncertain whether or not calum a'ghlinne (-c1764)(malcolm maclean),another native of the parish,author of 'mo chailin donn og',lies buried here also.
Statement of Special Interest
superseded by modern burialground opposite.church was dedicated to st maelrubha (most of whose dedicated sites lie to the N and W of the great glen towill,saints of scotland,1978,pp94-7).dixon states (p69) that the churchyard dykes were erected in 1727 also that in 1751 a new church is said to have been built,it,in turn,being replaced by the present church of 1971.the armorial stone set into the S wall of the aisle merits notice;it has a latin inscription (read by dixon (p101)as 'timor domini est initium sapientiae')and the initials 'a/mk'(? for alasdair breac) all carved in high relief;it also bears a date (1633/81),but incised,and evidently of later date than the inscription;the long tail of the '6',however,suggests a comparitively early date.but it is unknown whether or not this was cut to reproduce a date which was once there,no longer evident.a centre panel bears the 'cabar feidh'(stags antlers),badge of the mackenzies,suggesting that this structure was indeed built as a burial aisle for the lairds of gairloch.alasdair breac died in 1638 'and was buried in the chapel he had erected in gairloch churchyard'(dixon,532);the date is likely to have been cut at a relatively early period at the request,presumably of the family,rather than by a victorian antiquarian,as dixon puzzled over this inconsistency too.