Baile na Cille is a low promontory at the north end of the Uig Sands, overlooking the wide expanse of beach with the mountains of Uig and Harris rising to the south. This area is believed to have been worshipped for many centuries.
On the shore are the scant remains of a ruined chapel in an ancient graveyard, which possibly sits on an even older site. Next to the graveyard lies what is though to be the remains of the old thatched church, which was replaced in the 1820s by Baile na Cille Church and the Baile na Cille Guest House, originally Baile na Cille Manse built in 1784.
According to local folklore, the Brahan Seer, a legendary Scottish clairvoyant named Kenneth MacKenzie, was born at Baile na Cille around 1600. One legend suggests that he gained his occult powers when he was given a magic stone by faeries. Another version states that late one evening Kenneth MacKenzie’s mother was herding cattle near the old cemetery, when suddenly all the graves opened up. The spirits left their graves and roamed. Soon all but one had returned. Mrs Mackenzie bravely walked up to the grave and jammed it open with her distaff and until the last spirit returned. It was the ghost of a Norwegian princess who had been lost at sea. She was so impressed by the woman’s bravery that she told her to seek a particular blue stone from a nearby loch for her youngest son, Kenneth. It was this blue, transparent stone that gave him the second sight.
The Brahan Seer is often considered as a ‘Scottish Nostradamus’ and many of his predictions were straightforward and literal. He made predictions of the roof of a specific church collapsing when a magpie made a nest in it for three years in a row, the birth of a two headed calf, a boulder falling over and the plaintive death of a French expatriate in the Isles, mourned by a local woman.
The Brahan Seer cast the stone away, never to be found again by mortal man, and was eventually burnt to death as sorcerer in a barrel of burning tar.
- The Outer Hebrides Guide Book Third Edition by Charles Tait
- The World’s Most Mysterious People by Lionel Fanthorpe & P. A. Fanthornpe