Highlands & Islands

Fears for ancient Lochaber burial ground's stolen bell

Archaeologists and bell Image copyright Moidart History Group
Image caption Archaeologists examining the bell when it was still at St Finan's Isle

A medieval bell stolen from an ancient island burial ground may never be found, a local history group fears.

The artefact was taken from uninhabited St Finan's Isle in Loch Shiel in Lochaber sometime over the past month.

Police are investigating, but Moidart History Group has concerns it will never be recovered.

The small hand bell is said to be cursed and when last stolen in the 1740s was reputed to have flown back to the isle.

For centuries since 661 AD, the island was a Christian burial ground and more recently became well-known as a location in the Harry Potter films.

Image copyright Moidart History Group
Image caption Moidart History Group said the bell had religious and cultural significance

The early-medieval hand bell was last stolen after the 1745 Jacobite Rising.

A government red coat soldier took the item and was pursued by "furious locals".

He was caught and severely flogged on the orders of his superiors. Officers are understood to have returned the bell to St Finan's Isle.

But a spokesman for Moidart History Group said: "The tale is that it (a bell) then flew back to the island.

"I hope the curse is genuine."

Image copyright Moidart History Group
Image caption St Finan's Isle was a Christian burial ground

In the latest theft, a bolt cutter would have been needed to remove the bell from a heavy, hand-forged bronze chain.

Moidart History Group has appealed for help to find the bell. It said the item had "great religious and cultural value".

Police Scotland said its inquiries were ongoing into the theft.

A spokesman said: "The bell was removed from the uninhabited island sometime between late June and early July.

"Anyone with information about the theft or the whereabouts of the bell is asked to call 101, quoting incident 2838 of July 18, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

Loch Shiel, and St Finan's Isle, also known as Eilean Fhianain or the Green Isle, appears as the Black Lake in the Harry Potter movies.

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