Davaar Island and the Crucifixion Cave
Davaar island is connected to the mainland at Campbeltown by a long causeway accessible at low tide. Please check tide times before attempting to visit the island. In 1897 a painting of the crucifixion was found in a cave. After much speculation it was eventually revealed as the work of local art teacher Archibald McKinnon. He returned to touch up the painting a number of times. This tradition has been kept up by art teachers at Campbeltown Grammar School. The current painting is as near to the 1897 painting as possible.
Very little remains of Dunaverty Castle which stands on a rocky headland at Southend. The site once belonged to the Clan Donald (MacDonald). It had a very chequered history and in 1647 was besieged by Scottish supporters of Oliver Cromwell. The MacDonald’s surrendered and 300 of them were massacred.
Kiel Caves and St Columba’s Chapel and Footprints At the southern end of Kintyre close to Southend are a series of unusual attractions closely grouped together. Kiel caves have seen human occupation at various times since prehistoric times. One of the caves is known as the Piper’s Cave after the legend of a piper who disappeared here and whose ghost is supposed to be heard sometimes playing his pipes. The census of 1881 recorded a basket maker John McFee, his wife and child living in one of the caves. St Columba and twelve of his followers landed briefly here in early 563 after their exile from Ireland. A chapel to St Columba, now ruined was built here at the beginning of the 14th century, 800 years after the death of St Columba. There are two footprints carved into the rock between Kiel Cave and St Columba’s chapel. One is an ancient footprint, origins unknown but the 2nd one was carved by a local stonemason in 1856. These are known as the footprints of St Colomba.
Little remains of the abbey which was built in around 1148. But the main attraction is not the abbey ruins but the collection of late medieval grave slabs and effigies that marked burials at the abbey during the 13th & 14th centuries. There are twelve stones on show in a purpose built shelter designed to protect the stones.
The castle was probably completed in 1512. In 1508 King James IV of Scotland granted the lands of Saddell Abbey to David Hamilton the Bishop of Argyll with licence to ‘build castles ….and fortify them with stone walls.’ Bishop Hamilton then built Saddell castle which was a typical tower-house of the period. It was used by the bishop as an occasional residence. The castle passed through many hands before being acquired by the Landmark Trust in 1975.
Skipness Castle The ruined Skipness castle is a 13th century castle, later consisting of a courtyard with a curtain wall with tower house and ranges of buildings. The wall has three ruined towers. The main entrance was from the sea and was defended by a gatehouse. The castle was abandoned by the end of the 17th century and was then used as a farm steading. In 1898 the farm was removed and the ruins consolidated. The ruins of a 13th century chapel dedicated to St Brendan lie to the south east of the castle. There are gravestones of members of the Campbells are buried there. On a clear day there are wonderful views over Arran.
Tarbert Castle The ruins of the castle stand high above Tarbert offering wonderful views of the town. The earliest stone structure on the site dates from the 13th century. In 1292 it was given to John Bazillion by Edward I of England. In 1325 it was enlarged and fortified by Robert the Bruce. In 1494 James IV repaired the castle and built the Tower House. By the beginning of the 18th century the castle fell into disrepair and much of the useful stone was robbed to build the village and the harbour.
The Mull of Kintyre
The Mull of Kintyre is the blunt southwestern headland that marks the end of Scotland. There is a public road to a small car park at the top and then a steep walk down to the lighthouse which was built by Robert Stevenson of the famous lighthouse building family. On a clear day there are stunning views across to Ireland as well as along the coast. A short detour from the walk down to the lighthouse leads down to a memorial to the 29 people killed in a Chinook helicopter crash in 1994.