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By H. ANDERSON MEADEN, M.R.A.S., F.R.S.L. From an antiquarian point of view the Isle of Lewis is, in many respects, unique, though its ecclesiastical treasures have been rapidly disappearing as if they were of no consequence whatever! Graves are freely marked by stones taken from the old churches; thatch is held down by the thick slates reinoved from their roofs, while one beautifully-worked stoup was employed for many years in keeping a gate open!
The people in the country districts are quite charming, but they are more concerned with fishing and agriculture than with antiquarian studies, so that, bearing in mind also a certain hostility to the outward reminders of a religion which they have left behind, it is scarcely surprising that they have attached little if any importance to these hallowed emblems of
At Eye, four iniles from Stornoway, there is an interesting and well preserved ruin containing a slab to the memory of Margaret Mackinnon, mother of the last mitred abbot of Iona, but the place is neglected and its appearance completely spoilt by modern tombstones, though Nature has happily risen in revolt and partly covered them with a plentiful supply of nettles.
Some thirty miles from Stornoway, in the village of Eorrapaidh, near the Butt of Lewis, there is another church in equally good condition but prettily situated among the crofts, and happily not used for burials.
It has been preserved at the expense of the neighbouring Church of St. Peter, around which interments are still made, with the result that nothing is left except a portion of one wall, much of the remainder having been taken down within the memory of middle-aged persons in order to provide covering cairns for the graves.
Eorrapaidh Church, properly known as St. Moluag's, but described locally as Teampul Mor (i.e., Great Church), or St. Olave's (after the Norse King who rebuilt it), is probably late thirteenth century, though the site has been hallowed since the sixth century, when St. Moluay, the companion of St. Columba, visited the island and erected a church on this spot.
The building is of quite a simple nature-oblong, 50 ft. by 23 ft. There is a sacristy at the north-east corner, lighted
6TH SER. VOL. XII.
by a very narrow east window. There is a similar, but even smaller, building, forming a chapel at the south-east corner, approached by a separate door from the outside end only, connected with the main building by a “ squint,” through which the high altar would be visible. The inside measurement of this chapel is only 9} ft. by 5ft.
St. Moluag's was one of the four places in Scotland to which pilgrimages were made for the cure of lunacy. The patient was first given water from the holy well close by, after which he was led round the church three (or seven) times, sunwise. He was then left bound all night with his head resting on a stone, and if not cured by the morning the case was considered incurable. The last treatment of this kind took place about the year 1850, and is remembered by some of the inhabitants.
The Gaelic name implies the veneration in which the building was held, though ample proof of this is afforded by the fact that it was customary to kneel down and say a paternoster on coming within sight of the church some four miles away
Teampull Mor has now been handed over to official trustees, and the work of restoration has been commenced. At present only the chapel and sacristy have been done, but if the necessary funds are forthcoming it is hoped that the main building will be taken in hand this
year. This will be the only ancient building in use in the whole island, and should have the effect of reviving local interest in such matters. When people have an opportunity of seeing with their own eyes the contrast between the hideous modern erections in which they now worship, and the stately beauty of the ancient houses of prayer, they will cease to regard the remains of the latter merely as convenient accumulations of material for the build. ing of stone dykes, or anything else that may be needed.
Lovers of nature would find all that they could want in the neighbourhood of Eorrapaidh-a magnificent coast, a peaceful and healthy locality, and a race of people, said to be almost pure Norse, and certainly much the finest in the whole island.
There is no railway, and the journey from Stornoway to Eorrapaidh has to be done by road. Visitors to the old church should not forget to see Clach an Truiseil, probably the largest monolith in the country. It is about midway between the two places, but some little distance off the main road, and, owing to houses and the formation of the ground, not sufficiently visible to attract attention.
Reviews and Notices of Books
A CALENDAR OF THE PUBLIC RECORDS RELATING TO PEMBROKESHIRE
Vol. I. Haverford, edited by HENRY OWEN, D.C.L. Oxon.,
Society of Cymmrodorion. 1911. This compilation is a very successful attempt to collect documents relating to the Castle, Town, and Lordship of Haverfordwest from the earliest times until the close of the reign of Henry VIII.
Ecclesiastical matters and notices referring to mediæval Haverford included in the Rolls Series of Chronicles and Memorials have been omitted.
The documents here printed were gleaned from the MSS. now preserved in the British Museum and Public Record Office. Both of these repositories have been searched with the aid of the available indices and calendars.
The materials relating to Haverford have been classified under seven heads. No. 1 contains the History of the Lordship of Haverford from
1204 to 1544. No. 2 illustrates the jurisdictional status of the Barony. No. 3 is a good instance of original research, as it gives Ministers'
Accounts of the Lordship down to the close of the reign of
manor, contains many details of general interest.
divided into two sections :--A. Comprising evidences upon the municipal, manorial, and topographical aspects of the town. The texts of the charters, excepting that of 1207, have already appeared in the pages of Archeologia Cambrensis. Subdivision B exhibits the trading activity of the
burgesses. No. 7 consists of “ Ancient Deeds.” No. 8 relates chiefly to the structural and military history of the
Castle of Haverford west.
The general reader will find that there are some pleasant pickings for him dotted about in these somewhat technical pages. For instance, on page 80 is the account of John Rowe, Reeve of St. Ismael's, concerning the carcases and skins of rabbits, taken during