Ancient Monuments

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Kilchenzie Church,church & tombstones

A Scheduled Monument in South Kintyre, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 55.4623 / 55°27'44"N

Longitude: -5.6814 / 5°40'53"W

OS Eastings: 167368

OS Northings: 624880

OS Grid: NR673248

Mapcode National: GBR DGC8.LD8

Mapcode Global: WH0LX.PYRX

Entry Name: Kilchenzie Church,church & tombstones

Scheduled Date: 31 December 1923

Last Amended: 3 July 2000

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM260

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: tombstone; Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Killean and Kilchenzie

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: South Kintyre

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises the remains of Kilchenzie Old Parish Church and burial ground. The monument was first scheduled in 1923 and was rescheduled in 1972. On each occasion, an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this. The monument stands upon a small knoll on the S side of the main Tarbert - Campbeltown road about 6 km NW of Campbeltown.

The church was the parish church of Kilchenzie, a parish which was united to that of Killarow before or about the period of the reformation, and to that of Killean before 1636. It is not known when it was finally abandoned for worship, but a drawing of 1833 indicates that the structure was then in very much the same condition as it is today. The dedication was to St Kenneth.

The remains of the upstanding church consist of a single-chambered oblong structure, constructed in two phases. The walls of the church are fairly complete, except at the E end, where considerable portions of the N and S walls are missing. The church measures 22.5m from E to W by about 6.7m transversely over walls which have an average thickness of 0.94m at the E gable.

The oldest part of the building is the W end, which may be ascribed to the 12th century. This portion may have originally existed as a free-standing single chamber, constructed of random rubble masonry with pink sandstone dressings. This building was subsequently extended eastwards, to create a large chancel. The original E gable was partially retained as a chancel division, and the new build was constructed in random rubble with yellow sandstone dressings. The junction of the earlier and later work is clearly visible in the external masonry of the S wall, whose alignment changes abruptly at this point. The character of the window in the E gable-wall suggests that the church was extended some time in the 13th century.

The W end of the church has been partitioned by ornate decorative cast iron railings, to create a burial-enclosure. The SW corner of the enclosure has been used to house 9 West of Scotland grave slabs, mostly of the Kintyre School dating to the 15th century. The carved stones include a full length effigy wearing a pointed bascinet, a mail coif, and an aketon. A natural boulder within the burial ground, with an early Christian wheel-cross carving was illustrated and described in the late 19th century. This carving can no longer be found.

The area to be scheduled includes the church itself and an area around it, in which associated remains can be expected to be found. The area is irregular in shape defined by the boundary wall of the burial ground, which in included in the scheduling. The area has maximum dimensions of 35m N-S and 55m E-W as marked in red on the attached map. All burial lairs still with rights are excluded from the scheduling.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as an example of a reasonably well-preserved 12th century parish church that was extended in the 13th century. Few subsequent alterations appear to have been made to the fabric while the church remained in use for worship. As such, it contributes to an understanding of medieval art, architecture, religious practices and material culture. This understanding is accentuated by the existence of the collection of W coast graveslabs and by the possibility that the site may date to the early Christian period.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is recorded in the RCAHMS as NR62SE 12.

Bibliography (includes):

Dobie, W (1833) Fragments of perambulations in Kintyre in the summer of 1833, (Soc Antiq Scot MS 573), opp. 34.

RCAHMS (1971) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments, volume 1: Kintyre, Edinburgh, 120-3, No.280.

White, T P (1873) Archaeological sketches in Scotland: district of Kintyre, Edinburgh, 123.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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