The Monastery of San Paio de Abeleda is a medieval monastery built in the 12th century located 2 km from Abeleda village. Today found in a state of ruins, it was originally one of the most influential monastic centres in the province and was converted into an abbey surviving until the 19th century Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal. It was acquired by the House of Alba in 1872.
The church was built in the Romanesque style in the 12th century (with further alterations later). In plan it takes the form of a Latin cross. It consists of a single nave with 3 wings separated by pointed arches with archivolts decorated with chequered imposts and the capitals are adorned with flowers and chimeras. Traces of the original paint on the capitals, which had been maintained for several centuries, still remain visible today. The church was greatly reformed during the 16th century however a door from the 13th or 14th century was preserved. The main altar dates to the 17th century.
The facade of the cloister is in the Gothic style, and features a quatrefoil Gothic arch.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.