Last year 2016, we had a holiday on the Islands of Jura and Isley, off the west coast of Scotland. Most of the time, the weather was bordering on being nice, but on the day we found the above sign, it had turn just a bit grey and dull. I hadn’t read about this site, so it was a nice surprise, and also it was great to be the only explorer. I could take my time and not have to worry about bodies, meaning of course live ones.
As I walked down the track, I wondered what I was going to find, it looked a little bit barren and quite small, but the name sounded interesting……. Nereabolls. Nerabolls is the name of the Hamlet, which is on the road from Port Charlotte to Portnahaven. I passed one stone enclosed burial ground, as I had seen a brown sign that looked very interesting. Very very interesting……’Ancient Burial Ground go Clan Donald’
Inside the fenced off area I found a collection of ancient grave slabs. Many of the slabs were discovered under a plot of turnips by a local farmer. The carved slabs have been cleaned and set on a gravel bed, covered by a protective glass cover to preserve them, but clear enough for visitors to study them.
I have changed all the tomb slabs to black & white, as the protective glass cover plays havoc with the camera.
Several of the slabs are carved with foliated crosses, in the style of the Iona School 14th-15th century, another bears a sword blade and a pair of strange beasts that resemble a griffin and a lion. Another slab shows a galley with sail furled, a small figure is shown climbing the rigging. Below the galley is a sword, with a lion and dragon figure fighting, foliage issues from the dragon’s tail and transforms into an interlace pattern at the base.
The above stone could be ‘The Marigold Stone’, such symbols are frequently found in Ireland and most often dated to the 7th century, but they can’t be sure that is, but still a very interesting, carved with a circular pattern like a sunburst, with 16 radiating rays separated by grooves.
I made my way back to the remains of the chapel, which is thought locally to have been dedicated to St Columba and very probably dates to the 14th or 15th century. I had added the notice board, which tells you little more about the site. The chapel site was traditionally owned by Clan Donald.