Survey and research will boost historic Point site

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Point landmark Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe (St Columba’ Ui Church) has received £5,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project ‘Understanding Our Community’s Past’.

This is part of a wider project – ‘Building a Future from the Past’ – based around Eaglais na h-Aoidhe which is located at Aignish in the Isle of Lewis. Made possible by National Lottery players, the project focuses on a Geophysical Survey, the results of which will lead to a better understanding of the archaeology and historical development of the Church and its environs, and its importance to the community.

The project will enable the community and local school pupils to visit the Church site and learn about the techniques which are involved in the Survey.

The project archaeologists will carry out a Resistance Survey and Ground Penetrating Radar to try to identify what features and structures lie below the surface of the Graveyard and Church interior and immediate surrounding area.

There will be an Open Day on site at the end of the first week of the Survey and an evening event has been arranged at the conclusion of the second week when the archaeologists will present their preliminary findings.

Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe was founded in 2001 and its aims are to safeguard, consolidate and conserve St Columba’s Ui Church. The Church is a mediaeval Scheduled Ancient Monument and one of the most important archaeological sites in the Isle of Lewis.

It is believed that no fewer than 19 members of the chiefly clan of the Macleods of Lewis are buried here and one of the most significant carved grave slabs is that of Roderick Macleod, 7th Chief of that clan, who died in 1498.

Several other archaeological discoveries have been made in close proximity to the Church and Graveyard which indicate that there is a history of sequent occupance in this area since at least the Bronze Age.

St Columba’s Ui Church stands at the gateway to Point and the community of this area has always recognised and appreciated its importance and significance – not just to the local people but also to the increasing number of visitors to the area and to the wider Lewis Diaspora.

This new project will add an extra dimension to, and increased level of interest in, Eaglais na h-Aoidhe.

Colin Scott Mackenzie, Chairman of Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has chosen to support our efforts to better understand the archaeology of Eaglais na h-Aoidhe, its graveyard and the area immediately around it.

“Local people are very keen to find out more about the history and archaeology of the site because it is part of our local history and many people’s ancestors are buried there. The research will also help us to make better decisions about managing the site in the future.”

Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “Understanding Our Community’s Past is a great project as it shows clearly how local heritage can be a catalyst for lots of different activities and bring people together behind a common purpose.

“HLF is pleased to support Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe in its plans to, thanks to National Lottery players, enable people to enjoy the history on their own doorstep.”