The Stornoway Gazette is looking to draw up a list of the top ten must see historic buildings in the Western Isles for the summer magazine ‘Island Life’ and we had a great variety of suggestions pouring in.
The islands are home to many fantastic buildings that hold the secrets to the history of the Western Isles, some of which are internationally recognisable. But we are also looking for some of the less well known buildings, the hidden gems that the islands have to offer – those that perhaps don’t make it into the travel guides but that you think are well worth going to see.
One reader has suggest St Columba’s (Ui) Church - also known as the Eye Church or its Gaelic equivalent, Eaglais na h-AoidhePoint – situated in Aignish, Isle of Lewis. It is a fascinating 14th Century ruin sitting within a cemetery and is one of the most important medieval churched in the Western Isles.
The setting has changed much over the years due to coastal erosion – meaning the cemetery is slowly being lost to the sea (at one time it extended to ten meters further than it does now). But it offers a fascinating glimpse into the past including two carved stone grave slabs which adorn the interior wall of the Church – one depicting a warrior complete with sword and spear and the other a Celtic design with intricate patterns showing animals and foliage.
It is the final resting place for as many 19 Macleod Chiefs as well as many other notable individuals from the history of the island.
But for many in the local community the Church is more than a reminder of the past. Last year Friends of Ui Church was established, a website was launched, a series of Annual Lectures started and a Fund Raising Campaign for £30,000 begun to help preserve the Church and restore it as a centre of the community.
We are still looking for more of your suggestions, input and local knowledge to help come up with a top ten list pointing visitors and locals alike in the right direction and helping make sure people are aware of the fantastic cultural history of the islands.
We’d also like to hear your experiences of visiting historical buildings in the Western Isles and your reasons why you think they should make it onto the list.
So get involved and let us know what you think are the top ten must see historic building is the Western Isles.