St Clement’s Church, Rodel, Harris
By John MacLean, 24/02/14
Last week I paid a visit to St Clement’s church in Rodel, south Harris, spending two hours in very clement weather 😉 taking exterior and interior photographs of this striking building (sometimes referred to in Gaelic as ‘Eaglais Roghadail’ or ‘Tur Chliamainn’).
The church, built from local Lewisian gneiss for the chiefs of the MacLeods of Harris, is in a spectacular location looking out to the south-west over the Sound of Harris towards the Uists.
St Clement’s is considered to be one of the most outstanding church buildings in the Hebrides, the earliest section dating from the 13th century. The church is remarkable for possessing one of the most ambitious and richly-carved tombs of the period in Scotland, that of Alexander Macleod (known in Gaelic as Alasdair Crotach) said to have been the church’s founder.
By choosing to be buried in Harris, Alexander Macleod was breaking with tradition, as the previous chiefs of his clan had until then been buried in Iona. The tomb is dated 1528 and its high-quality carved mural panels depict biblical stories, a stylised castle, a hunting scene and a Highland galley.