Scheduled Monument

Teampull na Trionaid and Teampull Clann a'Phiocair, church, North UistSM2804

Status: Designated

Documents

Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (https://portal.historicenvironment.scot/termsandconditions).

The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.

Summary

Date Added
25/03/1969
Last Date Amended
09/03/2005
Type
Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard; church
Local Authority
Na h-Eileanan Siar
Parish
North Uist
NGR
NF 81625 60282
Coordinates
81625, 860282

Description

The monument comprises the remains of Teampull na Trionaid (Church of the Holy Trinity), the building known as Teampull Clann a' Phiocair (Chapel of the MacVicars), associated structures and graveyard at Carinish, North Uist. The monument was first scheduled in 1969 but an inadequate area was scheduled: the present scheduling rectifies this.

Teampull na Trionaid survives as a ruin measuring from 6.5m by 18.75m with walls 1.1m thick standing up to 6m high in places. Evidence for its construction, including putlog holes, survives. The building is difficult to date on architectural grounds because the only surviving feature is a much-eroded lancet window near the E end of the N wall which could date between the 13th and early 16th centuries. From documentary sources it is known that a church existed here in the early 14th century, and there is a tradition of it being founded by Bethag, daughter of Somerled in the late 12th century. Other oral traditions hold it to have been an important place of learning in later medieval times at which the Franciscan philosopher, Duns Scotus (c. 1265-1309), among others, received part of his education. Ownership of the site was transferred several times, including to Inchaffray in Perthshire and Iona in Argyll.

The church features in accounts of the battle of Carinish between the Macdonalds and a raiding party of MacLeods from Harris in 1601, when it was used as a sanctuary. Various modern place-names (Cnoc na Croise Mor and Noncan na Croise Beage for surrounding knolls) suggest that this sanctuary may have been marked by stone crosses. The precise extent of such a sanctuary and other structures that might have been expected within it, is not known.

Tradition holds that the school continued to function until the 18th century; at the beginning of the 19th century the inside of the church was still decorated with sculpture and the E gable supported a spire, or niche, decorated with three heads.

To the N side of the church is the building known as Teampull Clann a'Phiocair, a name probably dating from post-Reformation. times when the building was used as a family burial place. The rectangular building is later than the church and attached to it by a barrel-vaulted passage. The domestic character of this building suggests it may have functioned as a priest's house rather than a sacristry. Its steeply-pitched gables once supported a timber roof. The E wall contains a splayed lintelled window flanked by wall cupboards; on the W is a single window and cupboard.

The majority of the gravemarkers visible in the graveyard are relatively modern, but it can be assumed that the graveyard includes burials dating from later medieval times onwards. The sub-circular form of the graveyard may hint at earlier origins, perhaps suggesting there might have been an early medieval church here too. Modern burials and memorials can also be found in the inside the ruined buildings.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, extending approximately 5m in all directions beyond the outer walls of the churches and graveyards, to include the churches, graveyard and an area beyond in which associated remains may survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. Active burial lairs, visible gravemarkers, above-ground elements of modern field boundaries abutting the site and existing field drains are excluded from the scheduling, to allow for their maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

Teampull na Trionaid is of national importance because it is one of the most important later medieval ecclesiastical sites in the Western Isles, a significance that may in part be reflected in the fact that for much of its history it belonged to Iona and Inchaffray, major church sites elsewhere in Scotland. Tradition suggests that the establishment here was a major centre of learning. Although the buildings now exist only as ruins there is good evidence for the layout of the buildings and how the church was constructed. Teampull Clan a'Phiocair may be a rare surviving example of a priest's house. The sub-circular graveyard may hint at earlier medieval origins for the site, and the surviving archaeological potential for the recovery of information about the use of the site over many centuries is very high indeed. Locally this site is valued as one of the most important ancient monuments in North Uist, indeed in the whole of the Western Isles, not least because of the strong traditions associated with it.

References

Bibliography

The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as NF86SW 24.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at www.historicenvironment.scot.

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

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Printed: 05/03/2021 12:24