The Basilica of Saint-Martin d'Ainay is a Romanesque church in the historic centre of Lyon. Legendary origins of a remarkably large church, which may once have stood on this site, are noted by Gregory of Tours.
A Benedictine priory was founded on the Lyon peninsula in 859. When later it was raised to the rank of an abbey, major building works began: the abbey church was built at the end of the 11th century under Abbot Gaucerand, consecrated in 1107 and dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours. This church is today one of the Romanesque churches still extant in Lyon. The tiny building with its massive walls, watchtower, narrow window openings and spaces for heavy doors, was apparently built with defence in mind, and reflects the many dangers of warfare and violent incursions of the period of its construction.
During the Renaissance the monastery owned a port, the abbot lived in a palace and the monks had the use of substantial buildings, cloisters, a garden and a vineyard. Little by little, the life of the community ceased to be a monastic one, particularly once the abbots became commendatory and were nominated by the king. The abbey's temporal power continued, but its spiritual life evaporated.
In 1562, during the French Wars of Religion, the troops of the Baron des Adrets destroyed part of the buildings, including the cloister; the church was badly damaged. By the end of the 17th century the monastic community had ceased to exist. The church and remaining buildings were handed over to a secular chapter in 1685. The church became a parish church.
During the French Revolution the premises were confiscated and nationalised, and the abbots' palace destroyed. The church became a grain store, which saved it from being likewise destroyed. The church was returned to parish use in 1802. During the course of the 19th century was restored in a Romanesque Revival style by the architects Pollet and Benoôt, destroying the last remains of the cloister and enlarging it by the addition of side chapels.
The basilica at Ainay contains several architectural styles: the chapel of Saint Blandina is pre-Romanesque; the principal structure is Romanesque; the chapel of Saint Michael is Gothic; and the overall restoration and enlargement of the 19th century is Romanesque Revival.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.