Remains of early 19th century Mission Church at Clachan, Arran

This evening I am reporting on an interesting combination of early place names and Christian sites at a location in the S.W. of Isle of Arran, Scotland.

The word clach is a Gaelic word for a stony place. Clachan is an older term meaning stone cell or church, possibly a village.

Clachan on Arran may have been the place of pre-Christian, pagan worship. It was also on the transit route for pilgrims passing from the west to Holy Island off the east of Arran which was the retreat of a Holy Man called Molios.

In common with the rest of Scotland, Christianity was introduced to Arran around the 6th century AD by missionaries of the Celtic Church from Ireland.

Ancient Burial Ground at Clachan site.

A saint or holy man may have been buried at the Clachan site prompting construction of a medieval chapel close by. Subsequently:

  • A Presbyterian church was erected in 1708 at or near site of earlier chapel.
  • The 1708 church was superseded by another church around 1820 which featured an earthen floor and some parts of the original medieval chapel. At this church services were held once per month with congregation attending the local Free Church on the other three Sundays.
  • The 1820 church was superseded by a new Chapel of Ease about one mile down the valley in 1898 and this remains in use today. It is known as St Molios Church and, like its predecessors, falls under the umbrella of the Church of Scotland.
  • The 1820 church became obsolete and, whilst roofless today, the fabric of the structure has been maintained and is in good condition.Refer image at top of this post.

St Molios Church, Isle of Arran, Scotland.

Effigy of 13th century cleric, possibly an Abbot from Saddell Abbey, incorporated in wall of St Molios Church, Arran.

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