Dùn Bheolain

I find walking along the western seaboard of Scotland extremely exhilerating. More so that bagging summits in the clag.

This is from Rubha Lamanais or Smaull point, just north of Saligo on Islay. It offer superb views of a trio of sharks teeth peaks, sometimes called Smaull Rocks or sometimes Opera Rocks. The latter must be a recent naming because of the likeness to the Sydney Opera House1Edwards, Peter. “Walking on Jura, Islay and Colonsay”. [online] Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=yQiwDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT239&lpg=PT239&dq=%22D%C3%B9n+Bheolain%22&source=bl&ots=TXLKbgD-mU&sig=ACfU3U0k0xLWictwFgKsdJLKN7wC2BmUSw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjLzfWNluL3AhWGS8AKHa68CI04FBDoAXoECA4QAw#v=onepage&q=%22D%C3%B9n%20Bheolain%22&f=false [Accessed 15 May 2022].. The highest peak though is Dùn Bheolain where there is an Iron Age fort, apparently the largest on Islay although not very well preserved2Islay, Dun Bheolain | Canmore. [online] Available at: https://canmore.org.uk/site/37412/islay-dun-bheolain [Accessed 15 May 2022].. All around are signs of ancient rig-and-furrow cultivation.

The family last visited Saligo Bay in 2005. Then, quite by chance I stumbled upon the graveslab of an unknown mariner, buried where the sea washed him up. It was a fairly common belief throughout Britain that drowned sailors should not be buried in the local churchyard otherwise the sea might come and take them back. So it was custom to bury them on the shore where they were found.

Today I stumbled across exactly the same graveslab. Quite a coincidence really as the slab is slowly being overgrown by the turf. There are two short upright stones nearby. The archaeological opinion is that the inscription is recent and there is also graffiti dating to WW23Islay, Aird Thorr-innis | Canmore. [online] Available at: https://canmore.org.uk/site/82725/islay-aird-thorr-innis [Accessed 15 May 2022]. — nearby was a radar station and military camp4Islay, Saligo, Chain Home And Type 7000 Chain Radar Station | Canmore. [online] Available at: https://canmore.org.uk/site/141169/islay-saligo-chain-home-and-type-7000-chain-radar-station [Accessed 15 May 2022].. I must admit I didn’t spot any graffiti.

Graveslab at Aird Thorr-innis, inscribed “DEC AD 1818”

Where were these unknown mariners from? A letter from the 5 May 1818 edition of the Madras Courier ( of all newspapers) perhaps provides a clue5DREADFUL SHIPWRECK. | Madras Courier | Tuesday 05 May 1818 | British Newspaper Archive. [online] Available at:— https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0002925/18180505/031/0005 [Accessed 15 May 2022].:—

A letter from Eliester (Islay) dated 10th November says, ” A large vessel was last night lost of the back of the island here and all hands; she has gone to a thousand pieces. The boat came ashore, but no name upon it, but I found a board on which the Augustus, for Philadelphia was painted. This is all the information I can give about the unfortunate vessel; a good quantity of square timber is come ashore betwixt Port Newhaven and Claddach.”

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