Sunday, October 3, 2010


Keills lies south of Tayvallich and faces Jura Sound. It is here that the a pier was built in the early 1800s. Cattle from Islay and Jura were conveyed across the Sound to this part of Knapdale. The pier, build with Thomas Telford's guidance, is, like its twin at Lagg on Jura, is gradually disappearing into the water. To refresh your memory, this is the pier on Jura:

This area was once part of the Clan McNeill territories However, by the early 1800s, this part of the clan had either moved to Colonsay, or become bankrupt. Obviously, ownership of this section of Knapdale was a valuable source of income, given the large cattle industry of the 1700s. But after Waterloo, there was a post-war depression that particularly affected the Highland's droving business. In 1831, John MacNeill Esq, "formerly of Oakfield, now of Gigha", gave up Keills, Keilmore and Keilbeg, and the Ferry and privilege of Ferrying, and the Mill built back in the day of Sir James Campbell of Auchinbreck, etc etc to his major creditor, the Renfrewshire Banking Company. By 1837, the latter bank had sold the estate of Neill Malcolm of Poltalloch.

On the other side of a ridge from the Keills farm, there is a very old, historical Keills Chapel, dating from the 8th century. Knapdale People site has along with its cemetery inscriptions, an archaeological description of this building. The very large cross inside the chapel shows St Michael trampling on the dragon, above a nest with three eggs symbolizing the Trinity, and a cleric holding a book. A copy of this cross has been erected outside, up the hill from the chapel.

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