Teampull na Trionaid (Trinity Church) on the island of North Uist is the most important archaeological and ecclesiastical monument in the outer Hebrides. Cup and ring marked stones in the vicinity show the site to have been used from the earliest times and it was possibly a Celtic monastic site. The present church was founded by Beathag, prioress of Iona and daughter of Somehairie (Somerled) c.1203, as a medieval college of priests administered from Iona. It is believed to have been visited by the scholar John Duns Scotus (1265-1309). Mentioned in a charter of 1389, it was granted to Inchaffrey Abbey in the early 1300s but by C16 was again associated with the Abbey of Iona. Enlarged in 1350-1390 by Amie MacRuari, first wife of John of the Isles, after the Reformation the church was burned (in 1581) by Hugh of Sleat but is believed to have been restored and to have continued as a seminary until as late as 1740. An attached burial enclosure has a 1790 datestone over the door and burials have continued in the surrounding churchyard almost to the present day, while the linked Teampull Clan a’Phiocair (MacVicar Chapel) continues to be associated with Clan MacVicar and the hereditary tutors of the medieval college. The Battle of Cairinish, said to be the last battle in the British Isles to have been fought with bows and arrows, was fought nearby in 1601 and Donald Glas MacLeod, the leader of the MacLeods, is buried in the ruined church, which is now a schedule monument.
Exposed to the full force of Atlantic gales, the west gable collapsed in the early 19th century and repairs were carried out by An Dotair Ban ( Dr Alexander MacLeod) but further collapses left it in a dangerous condition despite some repointing by volunteers in 1994-5. Between 2009 and 2011 we took the professional lead in a comprehensive project to stabilise and conserve the remains, and make them safe, for locals and visitors to enjoy this important and picturesque ruin.