Am Baile/The Highland Council Planning Department



Location: Applecross and Loch Carron
archaeology, vikings

A skull and crossbones stone

At the back of the cemetery at Clachan Church is a small stone which bears a skull-and-crossbones. Many people have stopped to wonder who this stone represents. Maybe a pirate, or a raider of some sort who met a sticky end? Maybe a Viking? We know they were here and presumably raided the old Christian monastery of Clachan. Perhaps it is supposed to represent some other criminal?

The stone has deteriorated over recent decades, and is believed to be carved out of freestone, which isn’t found locally. If it is imported, then we can be sure it represented someone important. Apparently in the early 1900s it was possible to make out the initials ‘RMK 1750’ carved across the top of the stone. It is probable that the skull-and-crossbones represents death, and that RMK was a member of the MacKenzie family who owned Applecross at the time. When Clachan Church was renovated in 1817, it seems a lot of the stones in the cemetery were either buried or reused in building work. The stone of ‘RMK 1750’ was actually dug up in the 1920s and placed where it remains today.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.