St Medan's Cave, Kirkmaiden

Grid reference

NX 143 315 (accurate position)

Six-figure easting & northing

214300 531500





Altitude (metres)




Nearby places

Kirkmaiden, eccles. Kirkmaiden (Rhinns) (0.64 miles)

St Catherine's Croft, Kirkmaiden (0.67 miles)

Maryport, settlement, Kirkmaiden (1.8 miles)

Bride's Well, well, Kirkmaiden (2.34 miles)

Slewdonan, Kirkmaiden (2.89 miles)

Object Classification


Is linear feature?



NMRS records (Canmore ID 61044): 'St Medan's Cave and Chapel: The area of the chapel is as shown on plan. It has been made by widening and levelling up the mouth of this small cave, and building a stone wall bonded with lime, across the front while the rear, probably older, wall is bonded with clay. T S Muir suggests that there was a sanctuary or upper apartment over the chapel and the RCAHMS suggest that the six projecting stones in the rear wall may be the remains of a staircase leading there. The cave to the rear is triangular measuring 17' by 9'. Chapel and cave were excavated in 1870, though previously, and during the excavation, much disturbed. The finds were made in the doorway, presumably as the other parts had already been robbed, and comprised mainly copper coins of Charles I and II, and farthings of William and Mary, as well as pieces of a draped female figure, which was destroyed during the excavation. In 1885, Sir Herbert Maxwell excavated the chapel floor, finding a human bone, of a type found in barrows and caves, as well as a portion of deer's horn, rubbed in places, and flints, which he dismissed as strike-a-lights. (These may have been Mesolithic - Mesolithic flints have been found in various places on this coast.) RCAHMS 1912, visited 1911; R Trotter 1886; H E Maxwell 1886 The site is generally as described; another length of unmortared walling is exposed just outside the entrance. Name confirmed. Visited by OS (DWR) 7 February 1972. This cave is situated at the foot of the degraded cliffline 560m SE of Mull farmhouse. A clay-bonded wall (4.3m long, 5m high and 0.9m thick) built across the mouth of the cave incorporates a doorway giving access to the interior (3.4m in length and up to 2.8m in width). A building, formed at the front of the cave by the addition of an external, lime-mortared wall, measures 4.6m from E to W by 4.3m transversely. The wall incorporates an internally splayed window and a doorway; the remains of another wall 2.3m in length, is visible 1.4m E of the doorway. The chamber may have had a loft amd probably had a lean-to, slated roof. Coins, metal work, animal and human bone, and the statuette of a draped, female figure were found during excavation. Statistical Account (OSA) 1791; New Statistical Account (NSA) 1845; W M'llwraith 1877; T S Muir 1885; R Trotter and H E Maxwell 1886; 1889; G Chalmers 1887-1902; J M MacKinlay 1914; H Scott 1915-61; RCAHMS 1912; 1985, visited July 1984; NMRS SAS 457. There is much early modern evidence of continuing cult. Note NMRS on the adjacent 'Chapel Wells', where 'three natural cavitiets filled by sea at high tide .... much resorted to by the sick, especially on 1st May'. It was last used around 1940.

Relationships with other parishes

Within Kirkmaiden, parish (Rhinns)