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Kilmorie Church, burial ground and cross, 450m south west of Castle Lachlan

A Scheduled Monument in Cowal, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.1078 / 56°6'27"N

Longitude: -5.2004 / 5°12'1"W

OS Eastings: 201085

OS Northings: 695171

OS Grid: NS010951

Mapcode National: GBR FDJK.YGK

Mapcode Global: WH1K6.2RW2

Entry Name: Kilmorie Church, burial ground and cross, 450m SW of Castle Lachlan

Scheduled Date: 13 March 2001

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM9250

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: cross (free-standing); Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Strathlachlan

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Cowal

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument consists of the remains of the former parish church of Strathlachlan with an attached burial-aisle, within a circular burial ground. The site is situated on the S bank of the Strathlachlan River, 250m from the SE shore of Loch Fyne and 550m ESE of Old Castle Lachlan.

The church is first recorded in 1543, when it was stipulated that money due to Lachlan MachLachlan of MacLachlan should be paid 'upon Sanct Our Ladye altar situat within the Kirk of Stralachlane.' The patronage of the church, with the parsonage and vicarage revenues, were regranted by James VI to Lachlan MacLachlan, grandson of the earlier chief of that name, in 1592.

The burial aisle may date to this period. In the early 17th century the parish was united to Inverchaolain and then disunited in 1651, when it was united with Strachur. The dedication is believed to be either to St Mary, to whom an altar was dedicated, or to St Maelrubha.

The church stands in a circular burial ground. Cartographic evidence suggests, however, that this was a late development rather than being an indication that the site dates to the early Christian period.

Little upstanding medieval fabric of the church survives, apart from its east gable. Stretching to the W, disturbed ground indicates the original extent of the church: about 15m from E to W by 8m over all. The surviving E wall is 7m long and 1m thick and its NE angle is preserved, with quoins of red sandstone in the lower part and schist above.

The outer jambs of a double window, largely destroyed by the insertion of an archway, remain intact; the rybats are deeply splayed and may indicate a 15th century date for the church. The NE angle of the wall has a sandstone skewputt resembling those of the aisle and is probably of late 16th-century date.

A round-headed archway in the E gable leads to a burial aisle. The aisle was lit by two windows in the N wall, one in the S and a high level window in the E wall. The openings have chamfered arrises and are checked for glass.

Situated 6m E of the burial-aisle stands a lowland type cross with an octagonal base. The cross shaft has an octagonal cross section and is plain expect for an inverted pair of shears incised near the foot of the narrow NW face. The lower section of the foliated cross-head survives intact. In local tradition the cross served as the market cross connected with the annual market granted at 'Kilmary' by Charles II in 1680.

The cross, however, is probably of 15th century date and erected as a work of piety. Within the burial aisle, there are three medieval carved graveslabs, two of which have the common West Highland motifs of the sword and interlace. The third is of a lowland type with a black-letter inscription stating 'Here lies an honourable lady Janet Hamilton, formerly wife of [?, earl of ?], who died in the year of the Lord 1553. Pray for her'.

The area to be scheduled includes the remains of the church and the old burial ground. It is defined by, but specifically excludes, the boundary wall of the burial ground. The area is roughly circular with a maximum diameter of 55m as marked in red on the attached map. All modern burial lairs still in use, within and without the church, are excluded from the scheduling.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the remains of a medieval parish church. The addition of the burial aisle in the late 16th century is an indication of changing religious practices after the Reformation. The church's close proximity to Old Castle Lachlan emphasises the importance of secular authority and patronage to the Church, both in the medieval and the post-Reformation period. The cross and carved grave-slabs can contribute to our understanding of ecclesiastical organisation, funerary practices, art and organisation of the production of monumental sculpture in western Scotland in the late medieval period .

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NS 09 NW 2 and 6.

Bibliography:

RCAHMS (1992) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments, volume: Mid Argyll & Cowal Medieval & Later Monuments, 159-160.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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