On a small clump of land hidden from the road and split off by the river Snizort, outside of Portree in the town of Skeabost, sits St. Columba's Isle.
This secluded area was the central point of Christianity in the Hebrides from the 10th to the 16th century. Before that, it was probably a significant Pictish site.
Today, it's totally invisible from the direction of the nearest road, and accessed via a well-maintained wooden walkway through a plethora of scrub and bramble. This, combined with the constant aural presence of the nearby Snizort river, enhances the otherworldly feel of the place.
There are marked graves here ranging from the 11th century, through to the 1960s. And much of the area is studded with malformed, moss-covered hunks of stone that were clearly grave markers set down hundreds of years ago.
The Island once housed a cathedral and abbey, but after the Reformation, the cathedral was torn down and its stone used to build a retaining wall in Portree. It is also said that bishops who served the Cathedral up until the Reformation are also buried here. Now, aside from the stones, only a couple of small ruins remain, one of which is simply referred to as The Chapel. This small stone structure is slowly getting ripped apart by trees growing up and out from inside its ancient walls.
The second, and most intact of the remaining structures is referred to as Nicolson's Aisle, where legend claims 28 chiefs of the MacNeacail are buried. Whether or not that many previous chiefs are buried here, the ashes of a recent Chief, Iain MacNeacail, were scattered here in 2004 by his son, and current chief, John.
John MacNeacail traveled a great distance to lay his father to rest with his ancestors. The MacNeacail chief lives in New South Wales, Australia.