Saints Journeys: Cille Bharra Saint Site

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Little remains of Cille Bharra, a medieval church built in the 1100s on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, probably on the site of an earlier chapel dating back to the 600s and dedicated to St. Finbarr of Cork.

The journey is a short 21 minute 10.7 mile (17.2 km) trip. From the CalMac ferry terminal in Castlebay, the only town on the isle of Barra, head north toward the village of Borve. Continue on this road to the famous Barra Airport where planes land and take off on the beach at low tide. From there, continue north until you see the Cille Bharra structure and the cemetery next to it.

The only intact building on the site is the ca. 16th Century North Chapel. Inside the Chapel is a replica of the famous 10th Century Christian-Nordic Kilbar Stone that once was located in the graveyard. On one side of the stone is a cross, and on the opposite side is a Norse runic inscription that reads "This cross has been raised in memory of Thorgeth, daughter of Steinar." During the 9th Century, Barra was raided and later settled by the Vikings who adopted Christianity. The original is in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Additional informaton and photos on Cille Bharra.

An interesting side note: Compton Mackenzie, author of the classic Scottish comedy Whisky Galore!, is buried in the cemetery adjacent to the church. His novel was based on a real-life incident that occurred in 1941 on the Hebridean island of Eriskay, next door to Barra, when the ship the SS Politician ran aground. The tale of how a group of local Scottish islanders raided the shipwreck for its consignment of 24,000 cases of whisky quickly became legend. It was made into a film in 1949.

Visitors Information

Visitors information may be found at the website. General tourist information may be found at the Visit the Hebrides website.


Please check local road conditions for possible changes prior to venturing forth on this journey. A helpful resource for changes and possible trip interruptions if you are travelling in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland is the AA-UK Route Planner. Another map source that this website uses and that may be useful to you on your journeys is Streetmap UK.

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