Dunstaffnage Chapel

Last week I did a post about Dunstaffnage Castle in Argyll, Scotland. This post is about the nearby chapel.

Dunstaffnage Chapel is a beautiful medieval ruin hidden in the woods behind Dunstaffnage Castle. The setting is very mysterious and atmospheric and can easily give you chills. Not that it is scary. The woods are cool and damp with a swampy area behind the chapel. It's simply one of those quiet places where you want to stand and absorb the history and see if you can feel the presence of any spirits.

This was a family chapel, serving the lord's household, instead of the parish. It was built in the middle of the thirteenth century, about the same time as Dunstaffnage Castle. The remains show that it was once an extraordinary building which demonstrates the wealth and sophistication of its builder, Duncan MacDougall.

No other chapel of this date in mainland Scotland can match it for quality. It is 65 feet long and was at one time divided by a timber screen into a nave and chancel. The architecture was inspired by Irish churches but some features are similar to other churches in the area, such as Iona. It likely had elaborate arched doorways. The photo shows one of the paired lancet windows in the chancel.

Drawing of how the chapel would've looked in the 1200s.

The alter would've been bathed in sunlight streaming in the three paired-lancet windows.

 The woods around the chapel are swampy, mossy, and fascinating. This appears to be a tree which turned up by the roots, and then regrew a new trunk on top.

View of the chapel from the back.

Are there ancient graves in the woods? Probably. Most churches and chapels in Scotland have cemeteries beside them. We saw a couple of slabs that could be grave slabs (above.) Don't know for sure though.

We found these at the edge of the wood, growing on the ground. I'm going to guess these are lichens but I'm not sure.

The windows are chamfered on the outside and one has a bold dog-toothed ornament similar to the window which lit the castle's great hall. A chamfer is a beveled edge connecting two surfaces.

Lichens in the trees.

Most of the decoration around the three entrances is destroyed. They are believed to have been beautiful arched doorways.

Detail of one entrance.
By 1740 the chapel was in ruins. At this time the Campbells of Dunstaffnage built a burial aisle against the east gable with a neoclassical entrance. It contains several family memorials.

The memorials and graves inside the burial aisle.

I mentioned Dunstaffnage Chapel in an earlier post about Castle Stalker because one of the lairds was horribly injured just outside this chapel on the way to his wedding. He was able to be married but died soon after.

Thank you for visiting Dunstaffnage Chapel with me! Hope you enjoyed it! 

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 Chief Torrin MacLeod vows to possess and wed the spirited lady who stole his heart the previous winter. But Lady Jessie MacKay wants naught to do with the dangerous warrior, no matter how devilishly handsome and charming he is. When Torrin arrives unexpectedly at Jessie's home, along with Gregor MacBain, a man Jessie was formerly handfasted to, she is thrown off-kilter. She never wanted to see either man again, but now they are vying for her hand. Torrin promises to protect her from the devious MacBain, but how can she trust Torrin when she has witnessed how lethal he is?

The more time Torrin spends with the strong and independent Jessie, the more determined he is to win her heart. Once she allows him a kiss, he feels her passion flame as hot as his own. After she knows Torrin better, Jessie finds herself falling for the fearsome Highlander. But the odds are stacked against them. The sinister MacBain is bent on kidnapping Jessie, making her his bride and killing Torrin, while Jessie's conniving younger brother, Haldane, is determined to use Jessie to take over the castle in his older brother's absence. Jessie fears she can never be with the man she loves, while Torrin will do everything in his power to ensure they are together forever. In his heart, she is the only lady for him.  


Amy Jarecki said...

Nice post, Vonda! You are a wonderful photographer!!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks so much, Amy!! I enjoy it! :)

Terry Spear said...

Beautiful, Vonda!!!!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thank you, Terry!! :)

Ella Quinn - Romance Novelist said...

What wonderful photos!! I tweeted.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thank you so much, Ella!! :)

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Wouldn't it fun to see this amazing place in all of its glory. I can picture the sun shining inside. Thanks for sharing, Vonda.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Yes it would Paisley!! Thank you!!

BBT said...

Very beautiful and informative. Thanks

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thank you, Brenda!!

Vanessa Holland said...

Your're right, this is a very haunting place. I'd love to see it someday. Thanks for sharing!

Vonda Sinclair said...

It truly is, Vanessa. You would love it.

Mary Morgan said...

You capture the essence of the place, Vonda! Simply breathtaking...I've said it several times on facebook, but again, your pictures are stunning. Love your posts. :)

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thank you, Mary! I'm so glad you think so. I'd like to be able to give people a virtual tour if they can't go visit themselves.