Discovering and sharing the history of Scotland’s island communities

Early Christianity in Lewis

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The Ness Connection

by Ian Stewart-Hargreaves and Rachel Barrowman

It is well-known that the Church in Lewis today is perhaps the strongest in the whole of the UK, dating from the advances made by evangelical Presbyterianism in the first half of the 19th century. But in this new illustrated booklet, Ian Stewart-Hargreaves claims that the island also has some of the earliest Christian sites in Scotland, established several centuries before the Columban church reached Iona in the sixth century. He believes the north of Lewis had pre-Christian ritual significance, that the Pictish Christian church became established there as early as the third century AD, and that Ness was the destination of a medieval pilgrimage route. The booklet also contains a paper by professional archaeologist Rachel Barrowman which looks dispassionately at the archaeological evidence for early Christianity in Ness. Altogether, a most thought-provoking publication, based on the successful Book Trust symposium held in September 2008.


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