A day out at Davaar Island
See the mysterious Crucifixion painting for yourself. We show you how!
Davaar Island has a very thought-provoking painting of the Crucifixion in one of the sea caves that are 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 some time, he travelled 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 run 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 disgraced the town. But in any case, the whole matter didn’t sit well with some townsfolk and visitors alike.
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.
“My dad forced me to go see this painting. I’d rather be online” Anonymous child.
How to get there
You reach Davaar Island 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, and it’ll take about 45 minutes walking across as you take in the view of winkle pickers and local artists gathering colourful artefacts for their creations.
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.
A view of Davaar Island taken from the Dhorlin at the start of low tide on a rather bleak day, you get all seasons at once in Scotland!
The actual painting of the Crucifixion by Archibald MacKinnon and maintained by generations of local artists since.
This is the cave entrance containing the Crucifixion painting by Archibald MacKinnon. It's the seventh cave along.
Explore Campbeltown regularly distribute them electronically, and you will likely find printed copies at Keeping it Local in Campbeltown as they’ve taken over from the Visit Scotland Tourist Office. Find them at 15-17 Main St, Campbeltown PA28 6AD.
Online, you can find out tide times at the website cunningly named Tide Times. I told them it would never catch on.
Find out when the LOW tide is which is when the tide is at its lowest point. The tide is generally predictable with two low and two high tides every lunar day, which is 24 hours and 50 minutes long.
So in this example, let’s say a well-timed Low Tide is at 3 pm. At noon, the tide will have started turning to low, so you can probably start your walk to Davaar then or just after then. At 3 pm it will be at the lowest point and after that will begin to come in. You will want to be back ashore before 6 pm. *
*This information is presented “as is” and no warranty of suitability is intended or implied, please see site disclaimer.