Silent Sunday…So off to a Church again


The Macmillan Cross

The day had turned grey and a damp Scottish mist had descended as we drove down the Knapdale Peninsular in Argyll. The peninsular extends like a finger into the Atlantic point towards Ireland.  We knew there was an old Chapel to be found at the point and sure enough there it was Kilmory Knap Chapel…..looking all the world like many other Highland Chapels roofless and partly ruined.


The big surprise was to be found inside.  This Christian Chapel dates back to 13c, but as the area has a religious history that pre dates that, in some place going back to neo lithic times, this Chapel was possibly built on an earlier religious site. It stopped becoming a place of worship when it fell into disrepair and lost its roof. After that it became a place of Burial Enclosure….and that is the clue as you step inside the ruin.

Thankfully some forward thinking individuals had the inspiration to install an inverted glass roof to protect the body of the Chapel and an important collection of over 30 carved Burial Stones and standing in place of honour is the carved Celtic Macmillan Cross of the Knapdale Macmillan Clan.

The Stones were found either within the Chapel or the surrounding grounds. The stones are carved in a variety of styles, some obviously carved with Celtic influences others ornate carvings of familiar images whilst others are more symbolic.  Historians suggested that these memorial stones were created to represents the individuals wealth within their community with some of the stones having been commissioned on the Island of Iona and transport to Kilmory.

There are helpful notes in the Chapel to help you interpret the history of each stone.  This is a large collection of Burial stones, but carved stones like these, whilst not common are not unfamiliar to the Knapdale and Kilmartin region of Argyll. Click the link to read more about Kilmartin and its stones :-

Not all burials in this graveyard are of the wealthy and some simpler crosses have been recovered…


Kilmory Chapel may well be a bleak and lonely location but it is far from being an empty shell.


8th October

(C) David Oakes 2017


Sunday…So Off to Church and an explore of an Old Estate



Calke Abbey

Last week I took you on a tour of the old walled Gardens at Calke and did promise a further look at this Old Derbyshire Family Estate that since 1622 belonged to  the Harpur Crewe family and their ancestors.

So as it is a Sunday we will start out tour at the family church of St. Giles.  Situated on a rise overlooking the house it is reached along a tree lined walk.. a brisk walk on any Sunday the family and Staff.



The Calke Estate passed to the National Trust in 1985 after the sudden death of Charles Harpur Crewe to help cover Death Duties.

But the family left quite a legacy.  For several Centuries Calke Estate was a virtual self sufficient estate with many employees.  There were several Farms (still working today), Expansive Stables, and all the accompanying workshops of Blacksmith, Harness and Tack rooms, Fire Station  Butcher, Baker and of course the Gardening staff, for a garden that had to be very food productive.

Calke Abbey is placed central to an extensive Park Land.  Deer once roamed freely they even had their own Deer Shelter, now a ruin….today the Deer are in a fenced enclosure.  The whole park land is a wonderful woodland full of ancient Oak Trees plus specimen Beech.  A place to explore across all the seasons…





The Old Man of Calke

(above right)

Just one of the oldest Oak trees still standing over 1000 years…what a story it can tell of the comings and goings at Calke, Derbyshire

Calke Pan 2



9th July

(C) David Oakes 2017

Sunday…..So Off to Church – Well another Abbey


Melrose Abbey, Scottish Borders

Beside the wide and often wild River Tweed in Roxburghshire, in the heart of Scotland’s Border region, lie the Eildon Hills and in their shadow lies the town of Melrose.

Melrose is not a large town and within its boundary are the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey now know as Melrose Abbey.  They are substantial remains of what was one of several important and prosperous Abbey’s  within the Borders region.

Founded by the Cistercian  Order under the instruction of King David I of Scotland it dates from 1136.  I always wonder and admire the skills of the stonemasons and engineers who created these places of worship.  From concept to creation the imagination and skills employed must have been enormous.

The Abbey is the resting place of several of Scotland’s Monarchs and a good number of its Noblemen…..most notable I suppose is the Memorial Stone that marks the ‘present’ Burial place of Robert the Bruce’s Heart. The embalmed heart was discovered during excavation works, …his body is interred in Dunfermline Abbey

From around the time of the Reformations the Abbey suffered greatly, with stone being a valuable building material, much of the building was robbed.

Old as Melrose Abbey is it only marks one mile stone in the regions history.  The valley and its hills have been populated since 1500bc by the Celts.  Later the Romans tried to establish a community here. Going under the Roman name of Trimontium a substantial Camp was built. To mark the spot there is an engraved granite marker pillar.

In more resent times Sir Walter Scott had associations with the town.  Today one of its claims to fame are the Melrose Rugby Sevens Championships. Fiercely contested by teams from across Scotland this ‘reduced team’ game of Rugby was invented in 1883 by Ned Haig a local Melrose butcher.

A beautiful Scottish Border Town that demands a visit.


The Commendator’s House, Melrose Abbey

(Now a Museum with much of local interest) 

11th June

(C) David Oakes 2017