BACK TO  BANN VALLEY SCENIC DRIVE

Camus old church and graveyard  stands on the site of a significant monastic settlement founded here in 580,AD by  Abbott Comgall of Bangor, later to become  a saint.  This early Celtic / Christian site had close links to the settlements of Mountsandal and Dun Ceithern (The Sconce) near Articlave.  Like many ancient church sites it has numerous yew trees and an intriguing atmosphere,  nothing remains  of the old monastery though it is recorded that the ruins were used to build the walls surrounding the graveyard. The site had commanding views of the river and the important ford of Camus.  In those days this would have been a key strategic location as well as the main crossing point for travellers. It was guarded by two forts, the remains of one of these still stands at Loughan, it was last used by the Normans.

 

A story tells of St Columba (Colmcille) stopping here to visit with  Abbott Comgall before crossing the river to Coleraine. He predicted that the spring water would run red with blood from a battle that would take place, several  battles occurred near the ford as well as at Dun Ceithrern.  The ancient church here was used  up until 1630 when during the Plantation of Ulster,  the Merchant Tailors, one of the London Guilds built a new church at Macosquin.  From then on Camus and Macosquin were one.  One artefact of the old church is the remains of its high cross dedicated to the memory of St. Comgall.

 

It stood in the churchyard until the mid 1700s, it was then roken and the remaining stock used as a gate post for the churchyard, in 1905 its value was realised and the cross was placed at its present location. Carved from red sandstone it has scenes of the baptism of Jesus, the Ark and the murder of Abel.  Beside a railed grave at the north end of the graveyard is a  bullaun stone, the water of  which is said to have magical properties and the stone never runs dry. These were used as fonts for baptism, this  particular one  was highly regarded and used as place of pilgrimage until the late Victorian period.