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.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.