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The Here We Are Story - past, present and future

CGC1-001 - Clachan Graveyard, Cairndow (1246-1990)


Information on Kilmorich Old Parish Church

The medieval Church of Kilmorich parish was situated in the burial ground on the N.W. slope of Glen Fyne, 200m. from the Head of Loch Fyne.   A dry stone wall encloses a D shaped area about 42m. by 50m.  The most probable site for the Church is a terrace at the centre of the burial ground, where a turf mound about 12m. long, may mark a side wall but there are no clear remains.  A 19th century burial enclosure attached to the N.W. wall of the burial-ground incorporates several worn blocks of buff-sand stone, including one with an 80 m.m. chamfer and a rebate, which are probably from the medieval building.

The Church is first recorded in two charters of about 1246-7, by Gilchrist, son of Malcolm Macnaughton, granted the Church of St. Mordac of ‘Kellemurthe’ (or Kelmurkle) to the Augustinian Abbey of Inchaffray.  One charter stipulates that the grant was to become effective, after the death of Maurice, the Clerk.  The dedication was probably to a Saint, bearing the Irish name Muireadhach (Watson).  The patronage and teinds were held by Inchaffray Abbey until the Reformation and there after by its lay commendators, who in the 17th century leased the teinds to the MacNaughtons of Dunderave.

The parish comprises the upper part of Loch fyne, with Glen Fyne and Glen Kinglas and originally also included, the fertile area of Glen Shira, which was added to Glenaray parish in 1650.

At the same time an attempt was made to rescind the union of Kilmorich with Lochgoilhead, which may have taken place on 1618, but the separation of the parishes was not effective after the Restoration.  Although the Rev. Hugh Brown (1692-1718) protested that the Synod of Argyll, was withholding 400 merks for the building of the Kirk of Kilmorich until the parishes were disjoined, this was never achieved.  (A proposed new Church, at an unspecified location, had already been made in 1659).  It is not clear whether the proposed building was to be at Clachan, but Roy’s map shows that by 1750 the Church had been moved to a site a short distance N. or the present Church at Cairndow.

Kilmorich Old Parish Church and Burial Ground

Font ‘An ancient font’ which had been ‘marked to mend the dyke’, was removed from this burial ground to Inveraray in the second half of the 19th century.  It was on the N.E. terrace of Inveraray Castle and was returned to the Church at Cairndow in 1990.  It is oval, measuring 0.64 m. by 0.57 m. and the upstanding part is broken off obliquely, having a maximum surviving height of 0.36 m. at the front.  The bowl, which has a central drain hole, measures 0.40m. by 0.36 m at base, and is 0.24 m. in surviving height, with slightly inclined sides.  On the front and the right side, a series of vertical incised strips form five panels, each 0.17 m. wide, with traces of straight sided arch heads.  In a central panel is an incised galley, with high stem and stern, furled sail and lightly scratches rigging.  The significance of this is uncertain and it did not form part of the armorial bearings of either the MacNaughtons or the Campbells of Ardkinglas.  The font probably dates from the late 15th century or early 16th century.


Headstones, with shaped top and recessed panel commemorating.

Hugh, father of Archibald Campbell in ‘Cairndow’, who died in 1749, aged 85 and Archibald’s son, John, merchant in Inveraray who died in 1759, aged 23.  At the top, there is a merchants mark in the shape of a ‘4’.

Headstone, with shaped top and recessed inscription panel containing a star in relief and dated 1782.

In commemorates: Hugh MacCallum in Druimnamuckalach, who died in 1751 age 67, and Colin MacCallum, who died in 1771 aged 21.

Headstone, with pilasters supporting capitals and a round moulded arch, in whose outer spandrels are rosettes.  It was erected in 1784 by Colin Brown, teacher, Cairndow, but no burials are recorded.



written by the Rev. McDugal McDougal

The old name of this parish was: Kil-nam-brathairn.  Kill which is the Gaelic language, signifies, ‘A spot of ground upon which a church or chapel was built.’  The ground within the chapel and adjacient was employed as a burying place, and usually dedicated to the memory of some favourite saint.   kil is supposed to be derived from the Latin ‘cella’.  Brathair means ‘a brother,’ and Kilnam brathairam, ‘the house and sacred ground of the brethren,’ from which it appears that Lochgoilhead was once, the residence of some religious order or fraternity, but no tradition exists with regard to the nature of the establishment.  During the last 200 years, the parish has generally been known by the name of Lochgoilhead, from Loch Goil, ‘an arm of the sea,’ at the head of which the Church is situated.

There are two Churches in the parish, one at Lochgoilhead, where the manse is, and the other at Cairndow, near Kilmorich, upon Loch-fine side.  The minister preaches two sabbaths at Lochgoilhead and the third Sabbath at Cairndow.  Both Churches are old, and in order; the manse was built about 80 years ago, and is now undergoing a thorough repair.  The living includes two glebes, one at Lochgoil-head and the other at Kilmorich, maybe valued at L.130 Sterling.  Sir Alexander Campbell of Ardkinglas, Baronet, is patron and chief heritor.  The family of Ardkinglas have had the principal property in this parish for many centuries.  There is no Seceder nor Roman Catholic in it.

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