Clachan Graveyard Mapping Project


Clachan is a site of incredible importance in the history of Celtic Christianity and the Christian church in Scotland, arguably, behind only the island of Iona.

It was on this site that the monk Maol Ruba founded a monastery after sailing from Ireland. According to historic annals, the first settlement was in 673 AD, and Maol Ruba’s supposed grave can still be seen marked by two small rounded stones to the east of the ruined chapel.

The chapel is believed to date from the 15th century and was used as a burial vault of the Applecross lairds. Traces of carved stones were recorded in the walls at one time although they are no longer to be seen.

The current church was built around 1817 and is now the property of the Applecross Trust. In 2012, it underwent extensive renovations which will conserve the building’s unique character and atmosphere and allow future generations to benefit from it.

No other graveyard is known on the Applecross peninsula and, according to tradition, the old burial ground used to extend almost as far as the shore of Applecross Bay and eastwards to the Applecross River. Apparently, bones and stone coffin fragments were uncovered when the coast road was being constructed in the 1970s! If you remember that the population of the whole Applecross parish was well over 2000 at the time of the 1841 Census, and imagine that the graveyard has been used for some 1300 years, then many thousands of people have been laid to rest in and around the graveyard.

Traditionally, some people were buried outside the walls – those who had committed suicide, for example, or very young babies who died shortly after birth – and some unidentified sailors and seamen have been buried on the Crowlin Islands.