History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Keills Cross, a 7th century carved cross
One stone appears to have been produced at Saddell Abbey, in Kintyre, and imported to Keills. In addition to the grave slabs are other examples of early medieval sculpture, and the wonderful early Christian cross known as the Keills Cross.
The Keills Cross (sometimes called the High Cross of Keills) probably dates to the late 7th century (though some estimates place it in the late 8th or early 9th century). It stands just over seven feet tall, just under two feet across the arms, and is six inches thick.
The cross head has a prominent central boss, in common with other early Christian crosses in the West Highlands. The face is intricately carved with leaf scrolls and interlaced panels. The style is Irish, an indication of the profound influence that Irish Celtic art had throughout the west of Scotland.
The Keills Cross originally stood behind the chapel, by a small mound which may have been the founder's grave. The cross was moved inside the chapel to protect it from the weather, and a simple replica cross erected to mark its original location.
The upper part of the cross head shows St Michael atop a serpent, while below is a figure of Christ in Judgement. Around the centre are four birds, probably symbolising the Four Evangelists.
As for the chapel itself, it was dedicated to St Charmaig (Cormac) and is a simple rectangle measuring 43 x 20 feet externally, with a blocked south doorway and a round-headed east window. The modern roof has translucent skylights to allow visitors to more easily view the carved cross and grave slabs within.
The lack of any separation between nave and chancel is a common feature of churches in this region of the West Highlands. Aside from three aumbreys (small cupboards) in the east wall, there are few interior features. The altar foot was found buried in rubble during restoration work. The chapel fell out of use after the Reformation and saw use as a burial enclosure until it was restored in the late 20th century.
Keills is out of the way, and you have to make a concerted effort to get there, but I highly recommend making the effort; the carved slabs are reason enough for a visit in themselves, the location is fabulous, but the Keils Cross is a wonderful example of West Highland sculpture, and well worth taking a trip to see.
Most photos are available for licensing, please contact Britain Express image library.
About Keills Chapel
Address: Keills, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
Attraction Type: Historic Church - Early Christian Cross
Location: On a minor road at Keillmore, six miles south-west of Tayvallich, off the B8025
Website: Keills Chapel
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Opening Details: Open access site, usually accessible at any reasonable time
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
Historic Time Periods:
Find other attractions tagged with:
12th century (Time Period) - 13th century (Time Period) - 7th century (Time Period) - 9th century (Time Period) - carved cross (Architecture) - Celtic (Architecture) - Medieval (Time Period) - Reformation (Historical Reference) - Restoration (Historical Reference) -
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Castle Sween - 1.8 miles (Castle)
Kilmory Knap Chapel - 3.4 miles (Historic Church)
Eilean Mor: St Cormac's Chapel - 3.6 miles (Historic Church)
St Columba's Cave - 4.5 miles (Historic Building)
Kilberry Sculptured Stones - 10.2 miles (Museum)
Cairnbaan Cup and Ring Marks - 11.2 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Loch Fyne - 11.4 miles (Countryside)
Dunadd Fort - 12.2 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Nearest Holiday Cottages to Keills Chapel:
Nearby accommodation is calculated 'as the crow flies' from Keills Chapel. 'Nearest' may involve a long drive up and down glens or, if you are near the coast, may include a ferry ride! Please check the property map to make sure the location is right for you.