Silent Sunday…. So Off to Church


Saint Mary’s Church, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye

The west coast of Scotland is littered with the ruins of Churches (perhaps best named Chapels).  St. Mary’s Church at Dunvegan is typical of many such once important places of worship. Locations near the coast is a significant clue as to when and why they were built in this far flung places. It was in the 6th century that Saint Columba arrived on the Isle of Iona and set up a religious community that still exists today. So it is no surprise that Pilgrims from Iona , just a short distance across the sea, found their way to the west coast of Scotland.  There were of course many other peoples from other countries to this part of Scotland…. some settled, others stayed for awhile.

Standing on a high mound above the village of Dunvegan, surrounded by a stone wall, St. Mary’s is still a very notable feature of the landscape.

DSC_7949_00001bbSt. Marys is surrounded by a burial ground that tells many stories of the peoples of Dunvegan now long gone. But step inside the ruined Church and you find many more Memorial stones and Crosses.  Like many of the Churches that fell in to disuse and disrepair they took on an additional roll. St. Mary’s like others became a safe custodian of these stones that were brought here for safety.

Highland Churches like this may well be ruins, but are still important historical links to not just the communities past but to the foundations of the Country. Whilst many of the memorials are tributes to Clan Members, others are to peoples from many countries who ventured forth, found themselves in this part of the world, settled and helped shape the countries future.

Why so many ruins…. there is no one reason.  Larger places of Worship were often needed, then of course we had Clan disputes and much later divisions within the Scottish Church. Once a building fell into disuse the ravages of time and weather caused the Heather Thatched Roofs to collapse…. so with no roof any intentions of restoration was probably thought too daunting.  But the walls still stand firm.


Post Script….. I personally find it strange that today there appears to be dislike to peoples from other countries that seek to share our lives in our communities and countries.

Yet we only have to look back at our own histories and recognise the very wide variety of cultures and peoples from far away that have created and shaped the very country we now enjoy.

Just a thought

15th October

(C) David Oakes 2017





9 thoughts on “Silent Sunday…. So Off to Church

    1. The lichen encrusted slabs on the chapel floor could still be read….and you could have spent all day piecing together the local history of its people. I just find that what seems to be a Scottish custom along this coast rather heart warming….gathering old memorials and crosses abandoned elsewhere and assembling them in the numerous old ruins.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. And a very fine thought it is too, David. Thank you. These are my thougts too. 🙂
    Lovely little church in a magnificent surround. Thank you for all the great photos so we can enjoy them as well.


  2. I find this off to church-series very interesting, since I am interested in the cultural heritage in different countries, and the religious heritage of Europe too. But I hav a question to this sentence of yours: “I personally find it strange that today there appears to be dislike to peoples from other countries that seek to share our lives in our communities and countries.” Do you really believe that all the millions who in recent years have travelled to live in Europe really wants to share our lives? Don’t you think millions of them just want to live exactly the same lives that had in their country of their origin? Not all, but many enough to create parallell societies, and if we look around we can see now that the goal of too many is not our European way of life. Especially not our Christian or atheist way of life. And might not all this eventually create a Europe that might not be Christian, and not even as tolerant as me and you.


    1. I believe a great many of those millions have and still do contribute to our daily lives as they have over all the centuries.. I myself do not have a religious believe but respect others that do. Despite that I do try to treat everyone with respect and honesty. In recent years we have destroyed or helped destroy countries and have failed to extend basic Christian help to aid the recovery of those countries ……🙂


      1. My grandfather came to the USA (via Canada) from Aberdeen, Scotland — in part to escape the religious squabbling to which you refer, “…and much later divisions within the Scottish Church.”
        Fear of the ‘other’ and belief in ‘only one system of being’ (whatever name one puts to it) has wrought grief and death throughout the centuries around the world. Thank you, David for putting this out on the table — so to speak!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like that thought. I think we can be quite insular even down here in NZ, with little real “history” (Espen, or Pilot Viking on Instagram, recently posted a drone vid of a church in Norway, then when I commented on it he pointed out it’s been around for centuries before NZ was settled!)
    Anyway, back to my point – tolerance starts with us.


    1. Christianity in that part of Scotland and with it places of worship came from far and wide from across the seas. Christian they may well have been but since then have argued amongst themselves for centuries and still do today…. Very sad. But it is a sobering thought that all this happened before many countries were ‘born’….. And your Norwegian friend is right to be proud of his ancestry it is older than many of us


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