Teampull na Trionaid – Outer Hebrides, Scotland - Atlas Obscura
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Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Teampull na Trionaid

The ruins of a medieval seminary some say is the oldest university site in Scotland. 

The ruins of an abandoned seminary sit behind a cluster of houses in the sleepy Hebridean hamlet of Carinish. An up-close encounter with all that’s left of the church awaits those willing to take a detour off the main road to explore the easily overlooked attraction.

Teampull na Trionaid (Trinity Temple) was a medieval monastery and seminary. It was built sometime between the 12th and 13th centuries, allegedly by Beathag, the daughter of a prominent Norse warlord named Somerled who once ruled the Western Isles. Because of its use as a seminary, some say it’s the oldest university site in Scotland.

It soon became a key seat of learning within the Scottish Highlands during the Middle Ages. Teampull na Trionaid continued to feed the minds and spirits of religious scholars up until it was destroyed during the Scottish Reformation. Sadly, this wasn’t the most violent act to occur there.

To reach the ruins, you must first cross over the “Ditch of Blood.” Though this patch of land looks picturesque and peaceful, it was actually the site of the Battle of Carinish, which is believed to have been the last battle in Scotland that was fought with bows and arrows.

The battle that earned the ditch its macabre name took place in 1601 between the feuding MacLeod and MacDonald clans. The MacLeods raided North Uist in search of goods stored within Teampull na Trionaid as revenge for an earlier incident. However, warriors from the MacDonald clan found the intruders as they ate breakfast within the church and led a successful—albeit bloody—ambush within the hallowed grounds.

Know Before You Go

Access is free and unrestricted. Enter via the previous track (beware, this is not good ground, especially after wet weather) or following the roads adjacent to the parking area.