The Trinity Temple on the Isle of North Uist – Scotland’s Oldest University

The Trinity Temple, Teampall na Trianaid, is a historic ruin listed as of European significance and believed to be Scotland’s oldest university. The building is the remains of a medieval monastery and college, and is believed to have been founded by Beathag, daughter of Somerled, around 1200 AD.

It is said that the lime used in its construction was wetted with eggs to make it more durable and that a treasure is located on its northwest side. The building was rebuilt by Amie MacRuari, whose son Ranald was the progenitor of the Clan Ranald, around 1350.

Trinity Temple was destroyed after the Reformation and once again restored in the 16th century by Dotair Ban. In the 19th century the church had carved stone decorative work and a spire. It was recently renovated in 2011.

It is believed the temple was a significant centre of teaching and learning. It is claimed that the famous philosopher, Dun Scotus (c.1265-1309), was educated here and that Teampall na Trianaid continued to play such a role even into the eighteenth century. Its last scholar is thought to have been Dòmhnall Ruadh MacDonald, who was just over 20 years old when he became involved in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.

The temple stands in front of the Ditch of Blood, Fèithe na Fala, which commemorates Blàr Chàirini, the Battle of Carnish, that took place in 1601. It is said that this was the last Scottish battle to have been fought with traditional weapons.

Upon hearing the news that a local MacDonald chief intended to divorce his wife, a MacLeod from Harris, a raiding party of around 40 MacLeods set off for Uist to avenge the women and steal the cattle. The MacLeods are believed to have spent the night before the battle in Teampall na Trianaid and were having breakfast in the precincts when a much smaller group of MacDonalds attacked with swords, bows and arrows. After a fierce fight only two MacLeods escaped alive and fled to their boats, which had been left at Loch Euphort.

1 week camper van road-trip with Hebridean Campervan Holidays


  • Information signs at Trinity Temple
  • Explore: The Outer Hebrides 2016-2017
  • The Outer Hebrides Guide Book Third Edition by Charles Tait

The Trinity Temple on the Isle of North Uist – Scotland’s Oldest University

by Uncover Travel time to read: 2 min
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