A day out at Davaar Island

Davaar Island has a very thought provoking painting of the Crucifixion in one of the sea caves that’s well worth a visit.

According to many sources, the original painting was made in 1887 by a local artist called Archibald MacKinnon after he had a dream urging him to do so. Over a period of time he traveled backwards and forwards to the cave eventually finishing it.

As people do, they came across this painting and it was thought to be a message from God. This was quite handy as it boosted the tourist trade from Glasgow and beyond as people flocked to see it.


Later, it was eventually discovered that it was painted by MacKinnon and not God and in the ensuing uproar he was ran out of town and exiled indefinitely. Why? Possibly because the townsfolk felt a little embarrassed, possibly because they felt they had been duped in some way, possibly because they felt he’d brought shame on the town. But in any case, the whole matter didn’t sit well with some townsfolk and visitors alike.

Crucifixion painting

A happy ending

There is a happy ending to this story though. Eventually MacKinnon was allowed back into town and a tradition was born. MacKinnon maintained the painting until he passed away. Since then, some Campbeltown Grammar School art teachers now take up the artists pallet and regularly refresh the painting which has once again become a source of pride for the residents of Campbeltown.

How to get there

Davaar Island is reached by a tidal causeway called the Dhorlin from Campbeltown so make sure you check the tide times. There’s a layby near the entrance to the Dhorlin which can fit a few cars, free of charge. Walk across at low tide, it’ll take about 45 minutes walking across as you take in the view of winkle pickers and local artists gathering colorful artifacts for their creations.

It's this one.

When you get across it’ll take another 40 minutes or so to walk then scramble across some quite wobbly and slippery rocks so do wear appropriate footwear and be careful, especially if you are taking small children and people with low dexterity. It’s the last cave and there was a sign when we went but if you are there you’ll likely be able to follow others as they explore.

Once in the cave, the acoustics lend an eeriness to the whole experience as I just seem to remember the noises of the ocean disappearing and being swallowed by silence. It was very tranquil and certainly thought provoking as you look at the painting and reflect on its history.