Teampull na Trionaid, or the Church of the Holy Trinity, Cairinis, North Uist, Outer Hebrides.
The Book of Clan Ranald, written in the 1600s, says that Teampull na Trionaid was founded in the late 1100s by Bethag, daughter of Somerled. It was subsequently enlarged in the second half of the 1300s by Amy MacRuari, the first wife of John, Lord of the Isles, before being reconstructed in the 1500s. After the Reformation the church fell out of use, and despite stories of a continuing role as a school in the 1700s and the presence of sculpture within the church in the early 1800s, the church was in a ruinous state by the time it was visited by MacGibbon and Ross while compiling their Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, published in 1896.
There are references to Teampull na Trionaid having served as a monastery in its early life, and it is believed to have been an important centre of learning in the middle ages (and possibly until well beyond the Reformation). The early scholar John Duns Scotus, who lived from 1265 to 1308, is said to have briefly studied here.
The main church comprises a rectangular building measuring 18.75m by 6.5m, with walls about 1m thick. The west end is best preserved, though all trace of decoration and all the facing stone throughout the church has long gone. In summer the interior of the church, and many surrounding areas, are colonised by aggressive nettles: don't visit in shorts!
On the south side of the church at its west end is a ruined burial enclosure. Standing a little clear of the north side of the church at its east end is a separate, possibly later, building about half the length and width of the main church, and linked to it by a once-vaulted passage. We refer to it as the sacristy in the images. This is called the Teampull Clann a'Phiocair (Church of the MacVicars), a name probably resulting from the use by the clan of this area as a burial enclosure after the church had fallen out of use.
No wall encloses the north side of the church. But there are more than enough nearby lumps and bumps, and nettle patches, to convince anyone with an even slightly active imagination that Teampull na Trionaid could once have formed the focus of a significant collection of buildings, giving more life and credibility to stories of an early role as a monastery or ecclesiastical centre of learning.
I'm going to be out all day (a secret mission.. more at another time) so pelase escuse me for not commenting.
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