Ancient Monuments

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Kilfinan Church, carved stones and burial ground

A Scheduled Monument in Cowal, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 55.9585 / 55°57'30"N

Longitude: -5.3109 / 5°18'39"W

OS Eastings: 193421

OS Northings: 678893

OS Grid: NR934788

Mapcode National: GBR FD8Z.23K

Mapcode Global: WH1KX.DH7H

Entry Name: Kilfinan Church, carved stones and burial ground

Scheduled Date: 31 December 1923

Last Amended: 23 December 2004

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM265

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: cross-incised stone; Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard

Location: Kilfinan

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Cowal

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises the graveyard around Kilfinan Church, which has an extensive and varied collection of medieval sculptured stones. The monument is being rescheduled to include the Early Christian, medieval and post-Reformation stones and the area within which evidence relating to the early church would be expected to be found.

The present church is 17th-century in date, but the church of St Finan in Cowal is first recorded in the second and third quarters of the 13th century in a series of grants and confirmations to the Cluniac monks of Paisley. The church, which was then a parsonage, was granted along with the chapel of Kilmory, Lochgilp, quarters of the teinds being reserved to the bishop and to the perpetual vicar, who also held pasture land and forty plough rigs.

The churchyard contains a number of medieval slabs, and an extensive and varied collection of post-Reformation stones. In addition, the Lamont Aisle houses a collection of stones from the churchyard including the following: three Early Christian stones, described in the RCAHMS Inventory of Argyll (vol 7, 107-8, nos 1 to 3); 10 medieval stones, nine of which are tapered slabs, the 10th being fragments of a freestanding cross (RCAHMS, 107-9, nos 4 to 13); as well as a number of post-Reformation stones.

The area to be scheduled comprises the area of the churchyard closest to Kilfinan church and the carved stones within the Lamont Aisle. It is irregular on plan with maximum external dimensions of 37m due N-S and 60m due E-W, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area has an area excluded from its interior, also marked in red - the footprint of the modern church, which is specifically excluded from the scheduling. Also excluded, but not shown in red on the map are the mural monuments within the Lamont Aisle. In the graveyard, the top 30cm of the make-up of all paths and tracks is excluded from the scheduling. Any burial lairs which are still active are also excluded from the scheduling.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The graveyard is of national importance because of its associations with the 13th century church; for its fine examples of medieval graveslabs and its wealth of post-Reformation headstones; and for its potential to provide archaeological information relating to the earlier church or churches which previously occupied the site. Some individual stones are extremely fine and well preserved examples: their study can contribute to our understanding of ecclesiastical organisation, funerary practices and organisation of the production of monumental sculpture in western Scotland in the medieval period.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NR97NW 15.0.

Allen J R and Anderson J 1903, The early Christian monuments of Scotland: a classified illustrated descriptive list of the monuments with an analysis of their symbolism and ornamentation, Edinburgh, Vol. 3, 391.

Fisher I 2001, Early Medieval sculpture in the West Highlands and Islands, RCAHMS/SocAntScot Monograph series 1, Edinburgh, 147-8.

Hay G 1957, The architecture of Scottish post-Reformation churches, 1560-1843, Oxford, 247.

MacGregor G 2000, 'Kilfinian Parish Church, Argyll and Bute (Kilfinian parish), church', Discovery Excav Scot, 2000, 16.

Paterson M 1970, Cowal before history, 30.

Paterson M 1970, Cowal before history, 30.

Scott H et al (eds.) 1915-61, Fasti ecclesiae Scoticanae: the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation, Revision, Edinburgh, Vol 8, 317.

Steer K A and Bannerman J W M 1977, Late medieval monumental sculpture in the West Highlands, Edinburgh, 55, 143.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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