Cill An Alein

On the road north from Craignure to Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull, lies the small village of Aros.  To its northwest, is the Forestry Commission track to Ledmore and Lettermore. A short walk into the forest can be found Cill an Alein (sometimes spelt Ailein), a ruined medieval chapel standing in one corner of a burial ground.  In the burial ground lie the old bones which, as they fidget, settle and turn in their unquiet graves, encourage the headstones to examine life from a different angle:

Cill an Ailein Cill an Ailein

The Chapel dates from the 13th century, although the site may have been used as a place of worship since even earlier times. A recent tweet from Steve Carter, who lives at Shieldaig, got me thinking: “So… lichen grows 1 inch every 100 years. I give you the 1st World War: OldLichen & Mary Queen of Scots: OlderLichen“.  (I recommend looking at his website – photography is just one of his serious talents).

… when does this one date from (this section of a headstone is about 2 feet across):

Cill an Ailein

(click on the images to enlarge)


  1. M-R · November 27, 2014

    There must be many occasions on which you history-seekers are frustrated by the lichen, inasmuch as it destroys what little is left of the incised characters …

    • northumbrianlight · November 27, 2014

      In some ways, I guess, it makes it all the more intriguing. Strange to think that lichen will outlast us all by some margin.

      • M-R · November 27, 2014

        And it is so very pleasing to the eye – regardless of its destructive qualities.

  2. mark · November 27, 2014

    It is somewhat strange and true, but I have a fascination for old graveyards and lichen, so this post appeals to me. Excellent photos, beautiful textures. I hope that no one is considering painting those railings to hide the beautiful rust.
    In Inverness there is an old cemetery called ‘Tomnahurich’ which apart from having an interesting folklore attached to it is also immensely beautiful especially if you make it to the top of hill where all the oldest graves, tombs and Celtic crosses are. If you haven’t been there already I recommend it highly for the next time you are up this way, I know that you will love it.
    Hope all is well with you.

    • northumbrianlight · November 27, 2014

      Many thanks Mark, good to hear from you. I share your interest in old graveyards – we are probably tombophiles or similar. I will make a note of Tomnahurich – I looked on Google Earth and see that it overlooks the canal and the golf course – a prime spot for me 🙂 We will probably repeat our Scotrail trip in Feb 2015 – I am keen to see McGoldrick, McCusker and Doyle again at Eden Court. All the best.

  3. Tish Farrell · November 27, 2014

    Well that’s a few more new things I’ve learned today, Robin. Thank you. Love that first moody photo, and the thought of fidgeting skeles.

    • northumbrianlight · November 27, 2014

      Thanks Tish – you don’t want to believe everything I write, I am not the world’s most reliable witness. To use the golfing term – preferred lies 🙂

  4. easyweimaraner · November 27, 2014

    I sometimes wish this stones could talk… and I like it to visit old cemeteries (even when it is really scary sometimes).

    • northumbrianlight · November 27, 2014

      Thanks Easy – best avoid the dark hours or take some garlic 👿

  5. LaVagabonde · November 27, 2014

    Love the textures in these photos. I didn’t know that fact about lichen, very interesting. The UK sure has some old resting places.

  6. Malin H · November 27, 2014

    Fascinating… And the images; gorgeous! Especially the first one!

    • northumbrianlight · November 27, 2014

      Many thanks Malin – much appreciated. Sorry if I have missed some of your posts but we took a long weekend away rounding off with a visit here:
      I loved it 🙂

      • Malin H · November 27, 2014

        Oh, no problem! Take your time, Robin. ❤ I'll check the link.

  7. suej · November 28, 2014

    Great images, beautiful textures, Robin

    • northumbrianlight · November 28, 2014

      Many thanks Sue – sorry if I have missed some of your posts but we had a few days away and I have been in catch-up mode ever since. It doesn’t help that O2’s 3G coverage is appalling. All the best, R

      • suej · November 28, 2014

        No worries, Robin – I think I have missed some of yours as the don’t always show up in my Reader…. We’ll both catch up in time!

  8. socialbridge · November 28, 2014

    Wonderful photos.

    • northumbrianlight · November 28, 2014

      Many thanks – old bones and burial grounds are always an interesting subject 😉

  9. restlessjo · November 29, 2014

    Interesting thoughts, Robin 🙂 I’d better go and meet Steve.

  10. restlessjo · November 29, 2014

    Wow! There’s a place you’d want to live, Robin! Absolutely fabulous images. I didn’t see anywhere to comment so I just gawped. 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · November 29, 2014

      Exactly my thoughts – I keep searching for houses for sale near Shieldaig and Gairloch and even found a perfect candidate a few weeks back but the good lady is not persuaded 😦

  11. bentehaarstad · December 1, 2014

    Wonderful series. I can feel the beauty (and sadness) of history.

    • northumbrianlight · December 1, 2014

      Many thanks Bente – it is a lonely place, not somewhere you would want to spend the night … but eternity might be ok 🙂

  12. littledogslaughed · December 1, 2014

    Terrific images–I love the top one particularly-the color just pops and I can *feel* the rust flaking–

    • northumbrianlight · December 1, 2014

      Many thanks Meg – all down to OnOne’s warm concrete texture.

  13. Thom Hickey · December 4, 2014

    Very atmospheric! I have consistently enjoyed your posts this year – regards Thom

    • northumbrianlight · December 4, 2014

      Many thanks Thom, I appreciate your generous comments and the time taken/wasted ( 🙂 ) to consider my random thoughts. Have a great Christmas and all the best for 2015.

      • Thom Hickey · December 4, 2014

        Back at you! look out for a slew of Christmas songs in all styles on the Jukebox from the end of next week. Thom

  14. MJF Images · December 4, 2014

    Interesting! I don’t just like lichen, I love it!

  15. noellevignola · December 5, 2014

    Absolutely fell in love with the last image. Beautiful.

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