One of the most significant historic sites in the Western Isles, Howmore is a complex of churches, chapels, and a burial ground, on a site that may have been used in pre-Christian times. The main chapel dates to at least the 8th century, and may stand on a prehistoric site levelled to make way for the new buildings. Much of the site is enclosed within a short wall of 19th century provenance.There is some suggestion that the first Christian presence at Howmore dates as far back as the 6th century; evidence for this suggestion comes from an early cross-marked grave slab found amid the ruins.

Amid the ruins are the old parish church, Teampull Mor/Mhoire, now nothing more than a section of the east gable pierced by two 13th century windows. To the east is a section of a second church, Caibeal Dhiarmid, again represented by a single gable end.

Just outside the enclosed graveyard stands the roofless ruin of Caibeal Dubhghaill (Dugall's Chapel), and to the north east is Chlann 'ic Ailein (Clanranald's chapel), probably 16th century, but incorporating bits of medieval stone which may suggest that it was an earlier medieval structure modified for use by Clanranald. This is likely the burial aisle recorded as erected by John MacDonald of Clanranald (d.1574).

The most celebrated historical artefact found at Howmore is the so-called Clanranald Stone, a stone panel carved with the Clanranald arms. For many years the panel lay against a wall of the in the decaying graveyard. Carved of granite brought from Carsaig, on Mull, the stone dates to the late 16th or early 17th century. It is about 75cm x 80cm and weighs a hefty 160kg. Note the weight and then consider the determination necessary to carry the stone away unnoticed. Yet that is exactly what happened; in 1990 the Clanranald Stone disappeared from the Howmore site without a trace.

To get to the chapel site, follow signs for the Youth Hostel, which is located immediately uphill of the chapel site.

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Founded: 8th century AD
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

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