MacNabs of Innisewen, and the Suie burial ground

| August 19, 2013 | 2 Comments
StreetMap: Innishewan, near  Luib

StreetMap: Innishewan, near Luib

Despite having been educated in The Highlands for short spell, I admit that my gaelic is poor. So one of the problems I’ve been having with tracing where my ancestors hail from in Scotland is the different way the gaelic names for places are often spelt. For example, my ancestor John MacNab is recorded as being a cadet of the of the MacNab family of Innisewen (see more here). I eventually found a reference on The Hazel Tree site about Suie, the MacNab burial enclosure near Luib in Glen Dochart. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) have the Suie enclosure listed and mapped on their site here. The Hazel Tree site mentioned that there’s an inscription on a stone built into a wall of the enclosure:

Built by Iohn Macnab, posesser of Inishoane 1759

They assumed that the Inishoane refers to Innisewen, the farm they mentioned was just across the river on the other side of the glen. After much searching, I eventually found a ‘farm’ identified as Innishewan on StreetMap, when searching for the nearby Suie Lodge Hotel I’d seen on the RCAHMS map. Given the proximity of the MacNab’s Suie burial enclosure I’m assuming that the nearby Innishewan farm show on StreetMap above is just a derivation of Inishoane like Innisewen.

I had similar issue when searching for where both my MacDonald of Inch and Achnancoichean ancestors hailed from. As I found out, Inch is also spelt Insch and even Insse. I ended up having to make an educated guess that Achnancoichean was the same place as Achnacochine (Field of the Disputants), which is also known as Achnacoichine and Achadh-nan-cothaichean.


MacNab Suie Burial Enclosure

The Hazel Tree site has some great photographs of the Suie burial enclosure, which are probably more interesting that my struggles with gaelic. Joanne who runs the site mention that there’s a cross-incised slab at the south-east corner of the enclosure, which several experts have dated to the 6th or 7th Century.  Apparently, the stone is described as an ‘early marker’, as opposed to a memorial or grave stone, with links to the very earliest Christian worship.  There’s more information about Suie on the RCAHMS Cranmore database:

Suie in Glen Dochart is locally connected with St Fillan though his name is not attached to it (W J Watson 1926). The cross and foundations together with the place-name ‘Suie” make the existence of an early chapel here certain., the cross-marked stone may be “coeval with St Fillan”

I would love to find out more about the MacNabs of Innisewen and join the dots to my ancestors who hail from there. I also hope to visit Suie sometime, and so have added it to the fantasy ancestry road trip to the highlands I’m planning. More soon.




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  1. lindsay campbell says:

    Hi ancestor hunter!
    If you’re related to one John MacNab of Innishoan (of various spellings!) you may be interested to know one young ish man of that name is noted in the Justiciary records of Argyll, volume 2 as effectively preventing a Campbell gentryman (fiery temper if ever there was one!) from murdering a pedlar, or even an inn keeper’s wife at Suie in the first half of the 18th century.
    I’m currently conducting research for a book on Argyll crime (a follow up to my Ane Compact of Villany) and the case will be included in this new book.
    Good hunting!

  2. Rhonda says:

    Have you any information on the McNab’s in that area in the early 1900’s? My mother was born there in 25. I have just started to trace back and am struggling. Thanks

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