Historical riches and riddles

romhc Tuesday, 29 June 2021

"It has an inscription but not legible, being almost worn out by the injury of time." Martin Martin (1616-1790) traveller in the Hebrides, describing a tombstone in Oronsay

The burial grounds of Mull are very beautiful places, with wild-flowers and small birds like wrens nesting in the old stone walls. In season, there are daffodils planted on some graves. There is also a rich resource of family history, in the names, dates and sometimes longer inscriptions. With the ‘injury of time’, the elements and lichen inevitably mean that details get lost. So preserving a record is very important, for folk with family connections on the Ross, and for members of the local community to learn its history.

While the graveyards at Kilpatrick and Fionnphort, and the newer one at Suie have been documented by RoMHC in small pamphlets for some time, the very old site at Kilvickeon, round the ruined chapel, has been more of a challenge. Various people have worked at the task of recording it, over more than 10 years: John Clare at one point, then Sue Reed and Anita Tunstall (pictured here leading a training day in 2012). We are grateful that the Centre has a collection of photographs taken by Iain Howell years ago, when the inscriptions were more legible.

Unfortunately, there was for a time, because of other commitments, no-one to continue the work. Then during lockdown John Clare took it up again, collating all the information gathered so far, with his own research and details from the archives. But the booklet could not be completed without a final push, linking numbered grave-sites on a complex plan with photographs and on-the-spot observation. So at midsummer this year an intrepid team of three waded through the long grasses at Kilvickeon and, in one day, completed the on-site task. John was standing by to put that information in place, and within a few days had completed the booklet, which we can now offer for sale. It has more pages and pictures than the others, which is reflected in the slightly larger price.

However, we can’t put a price on the large amount of voluntary work and enthusiasm, which over the years has gone into surveying and recording and now sharing these riches of the Ross (and maybe solving some of the riddles!)

Jan SP


The Ross of Mull is an extraordinary microcosm of all that draws visitors to the Hebridean Islands. The scenery, as you travel along the single-track road from the ferry at Craignure is breath-taking. You experience in the many walks in the area a true sense of wilderness; the secret bays with their beaches of silvery sand, the abundance of wildlife and the innumerable marks on the landscape of the lives of past generations and communities long gone. The Ross of Mull is a compelling place for anyone fascinated by history and the ancient way of life of the Gaelic people.

Contact Us

Ross of Mull Historical Centre
Millbrae Cottage
Bunessan
Isle of Mull
Argyll PA67 6DG

By Phone: 01681 700659
By Email: enquiries@romhc.org.uk

Opening Times

From 20th July 2021 ...
Tuesdays to Fridays
10am to 1pm

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