Ancient Monuments

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St John's Church, church, burial ground and carved stones, Killean

A Scheduled Monument in Kintyre and the Islands, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 55.6399 / 55°38'23"N

Longitude: -5.6641 / 5°39'50"W

OS Eastings: 169507

OS Northings: 644572

OS Grid: NR695445

Mapcode National: GBR DFDT.2BF

Mapcode Global: WH0L4.YHZR

Entry Name: St John's Church, church, burial ground and carved stones, Killean

Scheduled Date: 27 May 1971

Last Amended: 15 August 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3030

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Killean and Kilchenzie

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Kintyre and the Islands

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises the remains of the old parish church of Killean and its burial ground, which contains a variety of carved gravestones. A simple, unicameral church was erected here probably in the second half of the 12th century. It was extended by the addition of a chancel to the E in the early 13th century with an elaborate E window, and a N aisle was added during the 15th century. The church was abandoned in 1770, but the N aisle was reused in the 19th century as the burial aisle of the MacDonalds of Largie. Evidence for this development sequence survives in the upstanding fabric of the building and further information is likely to be preserved beneath the ground. The church is approximately 25m long (E-W) by 13m wide (N-S). The burial aisle contains several fine 14th- to 15th-century tombstones of the Kintyre and Iona schools, as well as an early Christian cross-shaped stone. The burial ground contains a range of interesting 18th-to 19th-century gravestones, such as that commemorating Donald MacKinnon, who died in 1810, which depicts a man ploughing with a two-horse team. There is high potential for the presence of further archaeological remains and carved stones within the burial ground, possibly including evidence for the early phases of the church. The church is located on the W coast of Kintyre overlooking the Sound of Gigha at a height of around 10m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1971, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling extends up to but does not include the stone boundary wall. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are any burial lairs in active use.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because of its inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the establishment and development of a parish church and burial ground from the 12th century to the later 18th century. The church, though roofless, is largely intact and survives as an impressive ruin retaining noteworthy architectural detail. The range of gravestones within and around the church, of various dates and some with fine carving detail, add to the importance of the monument. There is high potential for the survival of archaeological features and deposits within the burial ground and beneath the church spanning at least six centuries of religious worship and burial. The loss of the monument would significantly affect our ability to understand medieval and later church architecture and religious practice in Argyll and western Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NM64SE 1. The West of Scotland Archaeological Service records the site as WOSASPINs 3147.

RCAHMS. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments, vol 1, Kintyre, p 129-36, no 287.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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