Inchkenneth, ‘Kenneth’s Island’, is dedicated to Kenneth of Aghaboe, a contemporary of St Columba. However, no evidence survives for an early Christian monastery on the island. The present ruin is a rectangular chapel dating from the 1200s. In form it is like many medieval churches in the Highlands – small, sparsely lit and simply arranged.
The entrance was through a door at the west end of the north wall. Though now badly worn, it retains evidence of high-quality decoration. The interior, though, has very little architectural or sculptural adornment. A step down is all that marks the division between nave and chancel. The base of an altar and two aumbries (wall-cupboards) remain in the chancel. Projecting stones high up in the chancel may have been brackets for holy images or lamps.
In and around the chapel is a fascinating collection of monumental sculpture. The chapel itself houses eight grave-slabs carved in the distinctive West Highland style and dating from the 1300s to the 1500s. One bears the effigy of a cleric wearing a mitre – probably an abbot or bishop. On the south side of the chapel is a post-Reformation burial aisle housing a table-tomb with an effigy of a Maclean of Breolas. The headstone commemorates Dame Mary Macpherson, who married the Jacobite Sir John Maclean, 4th Baronet of Duart, whilst residing at James VII’s French court in exile in 1695.
The surrounding churchyard has a fine collection of memorials. They include an effigy of an armed man with a shield in one hand and a cannonball in the other, which probably dates from the 1600s.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.