Cill Moccu Chormaic, eccles. North Knapdale

Grid reference

NR 690 805 (accurate position)

Six-figure easting & northing

169000 680500





Altitude (metres)




Nearby places

North Knapdale, parish, aka Kilmacocharmik (0.06 miles)

Port Mhicheal, North Knapdale (1.53 miles)

Kilbride, ~eccles North Knapdale (2.03 miles)

Kilbride, settlement North Knapdale (2.18 miles)

Tobar Chaluim-chille, North Knapdale (2.56 miles)

Object Classification



Is linear feature?



This church was granted to Kilwinning Abbey by Walter earl of Menteith (1258 x 1294) (Cowan 1967, 102), which may explain the presence of Sir Ewminede Henrison, vicar of Kalmaccarmyk, at Kilwinning where he witnessed a charter at the monastery in 1539 and 1545 (RMS iii no. 3245). Blaeu/Knapdale (1654) shows the end of the promontory, south of the chapel, as Row Kilmacharmik (i.e. rubha 'promontory'). The church was re-roofed in 1978 to house and protect a large collection of carved stones, both early and medieval. For details see NMRS and Fisher 2001, 145-7. The following legends - presumably of local origin - were recorded in the Old Statistical Account in the 1790s (OSA XIX, 315-6): 'Near the west coast of Knap lie a group of small islands, the most considerable whereof is Ellanmorekilvicoharmaig. Carmaig was an ancient proprietor of this island. His whole family consisted of a grand-daughter, who used to amuse herself by angling on the shore, which is surrounded with currents, and frequented to this day by vast crouds of fish. It happened upon an occasion of this kind, that a bone, in place of a fish, came out with her line; she unhooked, and threw it back into the sea. Again and again it came out in like manner. Chagrined with disappointment, she carried it home, and put it into the fire. The whiteness of its ashes struck her fancy. She endeavoured to preserve them; but, burning her finger in the attempt, instinctively clapt it into her mouth. By this means she became pregnant of the saint, whose supernatural gifts were so long to survive himself. He founded Kilvicoharmaig, the mother church of Knapdale; and, after a life spent in acts of piety and devotion, was buried in his native island. His tomb, a little oblong building, elevated about three feet above the ground, remains uninjured by time. The saint is said to resent, with the most summary vengeance, the least indignity offered to this monument. Near his tomb is a small chapel, built by himself. It is arched over, and covered with flags. Within, in a recess of the wall, is a stone coffin, in which the priests are said to have been deposited. The figure of a naked man is cut on its cover. The coffin, also, for ages back, has served the saint as a treasury; and this, perhaps, might be the purpose for which it was originally intended. Till of late, not a stranger set foot on the island, who did not conciliate his favour, by dropping a small coin into a sink between its cover and side. Upon an eminence, not far off, is a pedestal with a cross, and the figure of a naked man; and near to the cross is a cave, possessing the wonderful power of causing sterility in every person who dares to enter it. This magic island, if we may believe the legendary story of the saint, possessed many singular qualities. Nothing could be stolen from it that did not of itself return. The master of a vessel, conceiving a liking to the cross, carried it along with him; but, being overtaken by a storm at the Mull of Cantire, was obliged to throw it overboard; it floated back to a creek of the island, called, from the circumstance, Portnacroish, i.e. the Harbour of the Cross. Miracles were performed by the saint for many ages after his death. At length a woman, labouring under a dysentry, addressed him from the opposite shore, in the following verses: "'S mise bean bhochd a' Braidealban "A m' sheasamh air lic Mha' Charmaig "So naomh ann an Eilean na fairge "Thig's tog a bhuineach o m'earbal." It was an unlucky business for the invalids of those days. The saint granted her request, but was so scandalised by the indelicacy of her language, that he became deaf to the prayers of his votaries ever after. The cave preserved its reputation till of late; and, but for the following untoward accident, would have remained an object of terror till this day. A pair, more solicitous about gratifying their passions than promoting the political interest of their country, went into it, with a view to bring its influence to the test of experiment. They were disappointed. The female became pregnant, and the whole neighbourhood sceptics. Though the miraculous excellencies of this island have now ceased, they are amply compensated to the proprietor by a natural one. Not a patch in the Highlands is fitted to produce beef or mutton of a superior quality.'