Local History

The cottage adjoining Keeper’s Cottage was home to famed poetess Mary Macpherson (Mairi Mhor nan Oran). Born Mary MacDonald in Skeabost in 1821, she was nicknamed Big Mary of the Songs due to her size and larger than life personality. She was bard of the 1880s’ Land League agitation and invited to become official bard of the Clan MacDonald Society. An old well bears a plaque commemorating Mary’s family. It is not far up the track from Skeabost Cemetery, on the right of the forestry road.

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Mary MacPherson
St. Columba's Island

St Columba’s Island is an eerie cemetery set amid the Snizort River with a chapel containing tombs dating back to the Crusades. Twenty-eight Nicolson clan chiefs are reputedly buried there. Here lie the ancient burial site and foundations of Old Snizort Parish Church - a cathedral of the Bishops of the Isles.

To get to the Island, walk up Skeabost Country House Hotel drive next to the River Snizort to reach an overgrown road on the right that crosses an old bridge. Turn left immediately after the bridge and follow the trail to the island. Skeabost Country House Hotel was built on the site of a bloody battle between the Macleods and Macdonalds in 1539 - known as The Field of Blood. Corpses were washed down the river into a pool known as The Cauldron of the Heads.

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Nicolson Clan Chiefs' tomb in the Mortuary Chapel on St. Columba's Island