Location: West Highland Peninsulas
worship, archaeology

St Columba in Ardnamurchan

St Columba is well known as an Irish missionary who came to Scotland to convert people to Christianity. He is associated most with Iona, where he established a Christian church and monastery in 563. Local place names and legends, however would suggest he came to Ardnamurchan- perhaps even before establishing the Iona settlement. The story has it that he landed at Camas nan Geall and, in order to baptise a sick baby, he blessed a rock at nearby Ardslignish which then bubbled up with water. The water source remains today and is still referred to as Tobar Chalum Chille (Columba’s Well). This is mentioned in St Adomnan's Vita Columbae, a hagiography of St Columba written the following century by an Abbot of Iona and relative of Columba.

Another place associated with the saint is St Columba’s Cave, between Swordle and Kilmory. According to legend the saint came to the cave seeking shelter but found two robbers there. He converted them to Christianity, baptising them in a font formed by a natural rock pool in the cave It is said that the water in the font never dries out.

Adomnan also records that St Columba spent the night on a tiny island in Port na Cairidh, near to Ardnamurchan Point which became known as Eilean Chaluim Chille (St Columba’s Isle). Ethnographer MEM Donaldson writes of exploring the island but not finding anything to record about it.

As told by the Ardnamurchan History and Heritage Association

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