Caves, Cathedrals & Massacre’s…

  • Thursday 23rd August 2018
  • Isle of Eigg

    After catching the 10.15am ferry we were on our way to Eigg.

    So Eigg is one of the Small Isles, in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. It lies to the south of Skye. Eigg is 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) long from north to south, and 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east to west. It is the second largest of the Small Isles after Rum.

    This is an aerial view of Eigg I “borrowed” (read:took a photo of a photo) from the local shop

    The Scottish Gaelic meaning of the word Eigg is ‘notched island’ or the Norse meaning is ‘ a sharp edge on a mountain’. Either describes it pretty well.

    Eigg now inhabits 105 people (I wonder if they’d take another few) and this community in 1997 bought the whole island.

    Eigg now generates virtually 100% of its electricity using renewable energy.

    What a place to call home!

    Views of An Sgurr

    So today was a day for exploring and getting our whereabouts. We checked out some local caves and researched some history of the island. Today was a day for caving!

    So our first cave visit was called Massacre Cave!

    Entrance to Massacre Cave

    So on doing some research we discovered that in 1577, according to Clan Ranald, a group of MacLeods were being hosted on Eigg, when they became over-amorous towards local women. As a result, the local men rounded the MacLeods up, and cast them adrift in the Minch, until they were rescued by MacLeods from elsewhere.

    Wanting revenge, a group of MacLeods landed on Eigg, but had been spotted by islanders, who decided to hide in an obscure cave called the Cave of Frances. The entrance to the cave is tiny, and was obscured by moss, undergrowth, and a small waterfall.

    Clan Ranald go on to say that the MacLeods conducted a thorough but fruitless search for the inhabitants, but after 3-5 days, just as the MacLeods were leaving, they saw someone leave the cave, and were able to follow their footsteps to the entrance. The MacLeods re-directed the water, piled thatch and roof timbers at the cave entrance and set fire to it; water dampened the flames, so that the cave was filled with smoke, asphyxiating everyone inside.

    395 people had been inside.

    Serious doubts remain about the veracity of the tale. Nonetheless, human remains in the cave have been reported over the centuries, natural disturbances in the soil occasionally uncover further remains.We went in to take a look. The cave was really really dark and even with head torches on it became really difficult to see as we went further and further in.

    This along with what we knew about the history of the cave made us edgy, the cave felt eery so we didn’t stay around for too long.

    We then walked along to what is now known as ‘Cathedral Cave’.

    Back in the days of the Jacobites the government imposed on Roman Catholic services, so the remaining inhabitants of Eigg began to secretly hold services in the high-roofed cave, which became known as the cave of worship.

    The cave was huge and you could clearly see the similarities of this natural looking shape to that of a cathedral.

    In the evening we did a walk around different parts of the Island, staying mostly coastal, taking it all in.

    Some of the pictures below will show you how beautiful a place it really is.

    Remains of an old settlement here

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Alice Reid says:

    Glad you didn’t spend too long n those caves. Don’t want a repeat of the Thai children’s adventure😳 Love Auntie Alice x


    1. In defence, we did check the tidal times before entering 😁👍


  2. Helena Brogan says:

    Just what I was thinking! Looks a great place Mary. You seem to be lucky with the weather there. Love Auntie Lenaxx


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