From cathedral of the Isles to obscurity - the archaeology and history of Skeabost Island, Snizort
cathedral, archdeacons of Sodor, architectural remains
Skeabost Island; Eilean Chaluim Chille; Isle of Skye; Inner Hebrides; Scotland; UK
The island of Snizort at Skeabost, or Eilean Chaluim Chille, in northern Skye contains the important but neglected and poorly known remains of the late medieval cathedral of Sodor or the Isles. It was one of the largest churches in the Hebrides, with architectural features that indicate a link to the monastery of Iona. This paper discusses the archaeological remains and then sets them in their wider archaeological context. It then examines the historical evidence for the use of the island, firstly as the possible base of the archdeacons of Sodor and, from c 1387, the seat of the bishops of Sodor. Finally, the reasons for the island’s descent into obscurity are considered; key was the lack of support from the Lords of the Isles and the failure to attract a prominent kindred to use it as their place of burial.