Trumpan Church, Waternish, Skye

Trumpan Church, Waternish, Skye

This evening, I am posting information on the historic church, possibly dating from the 14th century, at the remote site of Trumpan in northern Trotternish, Skye. As explained below, these ruins are a massacre site which has become known as the ‘Battle of the Spoiling of the Dykes’.

Trumpan Church, Waternish, Skye

Trumpan Church, Waternish, Skye

In the late 16th century there was serious conflict between the MacDonalds of Uist and Clan MacLeod which culminated in one of the bloodiest episodes in Scottish history.

During the winter of 1577, MacLeods of nearby Dunvegan massacred 395 MacDonalds who were trapped in St. Francis Cave on Eigg (an island). The MacLeods lit a fire in the cave entrance thereby suffocating all of those incarcerated inside.

In revenge, Clanranald, Chief of MacDonalds of Uist initiated an attack on the MacLeods on the first Sunday in May, 1578. The local MacLeods (from the now defunct community) had gathered for worship inside Trumpan church. The MacDonalds took advantage of this opportunity by sailing round to Ardmore Bay, silently surrounding Trumpan church, barring the door and setting fire to the thatched roof. Only one of the Macleods is reported to have escaped, a young girl who raised the alarm following which a party of MacLeods was assembled and on the reaching the scene slaughtered all the MacDonalds involved in the raid.

The MacDonald bodies were placed near a wall (known as a dyke) and then the wall was forcibly collapsed thus burying the corpses. This burial act gave rise to the name of the conflict as mentioned above.

The site is remote and accessed via a narrow, single track road. However, in good weather conditions the views can be rewarding.

Ancient Burial Marker at Trumpan Church

Ancient Burial Marker at Trumpan Church

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