Trumpan Church on Skye and a murdered generation

Skye Trumpan Church

Skye – Trumpan Church

This tiny ruined church sits in solitude overlooking the sea at Trumpan.  Once the centre of a medieval village, Trumpan church now stands as a monument to a dark history where an entire population were massacred.

Back in the 1500s The MacDonalds and The MacLeods were engaged in fierce clan rivalry.  This came to a head in 1577 when a band of MacLeods of Skye landed on the island of Eigg.  The resident MacDonalds took refuge in a cave, but the raiding party lit a fire at it’s entrance and suffocated all The MacDonald’s to death, all 395 people from the island.  This cave is now known as ‘massacre cave’.


In retribution for this a gang from the clan MacDonald of Clanranald burnt the MacLeod church of Trumpan to the ground together with it’s trapped congregation.   The only MacLeod to escape alive was a young girl who managed to squeeze through a window. She raised the alarm, after running to Dunvegan, ten miles away. At the same time fellow Macleods hastened to Ardmore Bay with their charmed ‘fairy flag’, slaughtering all MacDonalds they came across, hardly any escaped the massacre.  The bodies of these MacDonalds were lined up and buried by a dyke which was pushed over on top of their corpses, hence the name of this skirmish – The Battle of the Spoiling of the Dyke.

The village of Trumpan was never re-established.

About Amanda Moffet

I run with Rodger Moffet. Live in Edinburgh and love travelling around Scotland gathering stories.

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2 thoughts on “Trumpan Church on Skye and a murdered generation

  1. Ian McDonald


    My wife and I came across this old church while on Skye for a Scottish Country Dancing weekend and were absolutely fascinated by this story which is indicated on a board at the site. Do I have your permission to use it on our newsletter early next year? The Clan Donald of the Highlands & Islands were only formed about a year and a half ago and we are always looking for material relating to the clan.

    We would be much obliged.

    Ian McDonald.


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