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A modest church

Inchkenneth, ‘Kenneth’s Island’, is dedicated to Kenneth of Aghaboe, a contemporary of St Columba. However, no evidence survives for an early Christian monastery on the island.

The present ruin is a rectangular chapel dating from the 1200s. In form it is like many medieval churches in the Highlands – small, sparsely lit and simply arranged.

The entrance was through a door at the west end of the north wall. Though now badly worn, it retains evidence of high-quality decoration. The interior, though, has very little architectural or sculptural adornment.

A step down is all that marks the division between nave and chancel. The base of an altar and two aumbries (wall-cupboards) remain in the chancel. Projecting stones high up in the chancel may have been brackets for holy images or lamps.

Monumental sculpture

In and around the chapel is a fascinating collection of monumental sculpture. The chapel itself houses eight grave-slabs carved in the distinctive West Highland style and dating from the 1300s to the 1500s. One bears the effigy of a cleric wearing a mitre – probably an abbot or bishop.  On the south side of the chapel is a post-Reformation burial aisle housing a table-tomb with an effigy of a Maclean of Breolas. The headstone commemorates Dame Mary Macpherson, who married the Jacobite Sir John Maclean, 4th Baronet of Duart, whilst residing at James VII’s French court in exile in 1695.

The surrounding churchyard has a fine collection of memorials. They include an effigy of an armed man with a shield  in one hand and a cannonball in the other, which probably dates from the 1600s.

Highlight

The approach – scrambling up over the rocks from the boat.