Kirkmichael restoration complete
30 September 2017
Kirkmichael church before . . . . . . and after
In response to an enquiry from TBI, Jim Mackay, Chairman of the Kirkmichael Trust, gave this account of the restoration project:
Kirkmichael and its new display of ornate medieval carved stones
A successful community project has resulted in the restoration of a medieval site in the Black Isle and creation of a unique display of ornate pre-Reformation carved gravestones within the restored buildings.
The Kirkmichael Trust has worked for more than 15 years to raise the £750,000 required to restore the derelict and dangerous buildings at Kirkmichael, beside Udale Bay, on the north side of the Black Isle. With funding from many bodies, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, and private individuals, not only were the buildings restored but ornate stones, at risk in the two old graveyards of Resolis, Kirkmichael and Old Cullicudden, are being conserved and mounted in the former nave at Kirkmichael.
The restored mausolea, formed from the medieval church, were launched by HRH the Duke of Gloucester in April, and a Public Open Day was held on 9 September. Already the site is attracting a stream of visitors come to admire the restored buildings and the remarkable mausolea in the kirkyard, all set against the beautiful backdrop of the Cromarty Firth and the Sutors.
The medieval stones on display bear wonderful but unknown artwork for which the Trust is seeking wider appreciation. This form of ornamentation ended with the Reformation in 1560, and a few examples lie buried and unrecognised in several Black Isle graveyards. But nowhere has such a fine display as the Resolis graveyards, albeit badly worn and damaged by graveyard maintenance.
Interpretive material telling the story of the site and the families associated with it round off the interests on the site itself, and the Trust’s website www.kirkmichael.info contains a vast collection of heritage information about Black Isle families and events with a Kirkmichael connection. And its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/kirkmichaeltrust is updated weekly with heritage stories and work party information. The Trust is always looking for new work party volunteers!
There are three trustees, a larger group of about 12 Friends of Kirkmichael with a secretary and treasurer, and a wider group yet of about 20 people who are regular work party volunteers, all of whom were actively involved in the restoration. There is no membership organisation as we prefer to keep it organic.
The Trust has published a downloadable Guide to Kirkmichael and other leaflets.
As part of Highland Council's Highland Archaeology Festival the Trust will be offering guided tours of the kirk and graveyard on Saturdays 30 September and 7 and 14 October, at 10.00 and 11.00.
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