Saints and Stones: Red Priest's Stone

The monument consists of the remains of a pre-Reformation chapel and burial ground, the only surviving evidence of which is a cross-incised small stone known as the Stone of the Red Priest. The Red Priest was one of the names given to St. Maelrubha from which it is assumed that the chapel was dedicated to him.

The monument is in a small unenclosed and slightly raised area of rough pasture in the corner of a field in the small hamlet of Skail in the Strathnaver Glen area. A number of stones can be seen through the rough grass. There are no markings on these stones and no indication as to whether they are gravestones or a scatter of field stones. It is situated to the East of the site and is (2-1/4 feet (0.7m) high and less than a foot (0.3m) in width, with a roughly incised almost equal-armed cross with a rounded head on its north face.

St. Maelrubha is generally thought to have lived and preached in the area around Applecross in Wester Ross, but Strathnaver claims him also. He was said to have established a stone chapel at Skail before he was slain in 722 A.D. by Viking raiders at a nearby Neolithic cairn. According to tradition, his body was carried to the burial ground beside the river, and the site of his grave was marked with the small stone.

About the Red Priest's Stone

Britain Express: The Red Priest's Stone, Strathnaver
Canmore: Red Priest's Stone, Skail
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Maelrubha
Megalithic Portal: St Maelrubha's Cross (Skail)

Journey to the Red Priest's Stone

At the small village of Skail off the B873 on the Srathnaver Trail, follow the waymarked trail along the edge of a farm field to a small stone that is the site of the burial ground. This is the "Clach an t-Sagairt Ruidhe," the Red Priest's Stone.

Streetmap UK NGR NC71474722.

Visitors Information

Visitors information for the Red Priest's Stone and general tourist information may be found at the Strathnaver Trail website.

Additional Photos of the Red Priest's Stone

Descriptive Sign of Red Priest Stone at Skail
Path to Red Priest Stone
The Red Priest Stone Burial Site of St. Maelrubha
The Red Priest Stone

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