Restoration of Medieval Churches in the Hebrides
In early March 2015, the AOC Inverness office spent the week working on two medieval church sites in the Hebrides. The church sites, both Scheduled Monuments in the care of Historic Scotland, were undergoing conservation and stabilisation works under the guidance of Addison Conservation + Design.
Archaeologists were present during specific stages of the conservation work where there was potential for archaeological material to be disturbed. At Eaglais na h-Aoidhe in Aignish on the Isle of Lewis, work funded by Historic Scotland on behalf of the UI Church Trust included emergency sheet piling along the shoreline. The work was necessitated by the continuous erosion caused by storm surges threatening the church walls and eroding the historic burial ground, home to the burials of many Clan Macleod chiefs. Archaeological excavation and recording was undertaken ahead of installation of the sheet piles in order to located and safeguard burials or other archaeological remains.
On behalf of the Ross of Mull Historical Centre, archaeological work was undertaken during conservation and stabilisation work to Kilvickeon Chapel, one of seven medieval churches on the Isle of Mull. An early Christian pilgrimage route is known to have crossed the Ross of Mull, a long, low peninsula that provided the best link to the Isle of Iona and the Early Christian monastic site associated with Saint Columba’s landing in 563. AOC archaeologists undertook limited excavation inside the church during the consolidation work. The removal of floor surfaces revealed burials that have been preserved in situ.