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Field Visit

Date May 1972

Event ID 1086780

Category Recording

Type Field Visit


The roofless shell of the old parish church stands within its burial-ground about 400 m NW of the present church (No. 294). The building is mainly of 18th-century date, but evidently incorporates part of an earlier church dating from the 12th or 13th century.

The church measures 14.4 m from W to E by 5.2 m transversely within walls varying in thickness from 0 ·6 m to 1.1 m. The masonry is of random rubble with dressings of greenish-grey sandstone probably derived from the Lochaline area. The S wall, which appears to have been entirely reconstructed in the 18th century, contains a slab-lintelled entrance-doorway and three semicircular-headed window-openings. A second entrance-doorway, now blocked, can be seen towards the end of the N wall, which likewise appears to be of 18th-century date. The W gable-wall probably incorporates good deal of medieval masonry, although the upper portion has been reconstructed, and the W face partially obscured by the erection of a burial-enclosure. A deeply-splayed window having a plain lintelled daylight-opening, now blocked, appears to be an 18th-century reconstruction of an original medieval window in the same position. Above, there is an 18th-century window which evidently lit a gallery at the W end of the church; the beam-sockets of the gallery can be seen in the sidewalls. The gable is surmounted by the stump of a plain rectangular bell-cot. The lower part of the E gable-wall, too, is evidently of medieval date, and the angles incorporate what appear to be a number of original freestone quoins. A centrally placed window-opening at ground-floor level, now blocked, retains part of a rebated daylight-opening of 12th- or 13th-century character. Above, there is an 18th-century window similar to the one in the opposite gable-wall, and this, together with the beam-sockets in the side-walls, indicates that there was also a gallery at this end of the church. The galleries were presumably reached by internal timber staircases rising within the NW and NE corners of the building. The pulpit probably occupied central position against the N wall.

At the Reformation the medieval parish of Kilchoan, comprising the Ardnamurchan peninsula, was joined to the adjacent parishes of Arisaig and Elanfinan, or Sunart, to form the united parish of Ardnamurchan. The church was superseded by a new building (No. 294) on an adjacent site in 1831, at which date it was reported to have been 'long in ruins'. The dedication was to St Comgan (en.1).


In the churchyard there are two late medieval grave-slabs.

(1) Tapered slab, 1.80 m long by 0.48 m wide at the head. Within a border of elongated nail-head there are the following motifs in descending order: (i) a galley with a furled sail, a pennon at the prow and a shield in amongst the rigging; (ii) a sword with lobated pommel and canted quillons, which is flanked on each side by two intertwined plant-scrolls linked at the top to a pair of animals; and (iii) a hunting-scene involving a stag, two hounds and a huntsman wearing a liripipe head-dress and carrying an axe. Iona school, 14th-15th century.

(2) Tapered slab, broken across; it measures 1.83 m long by 0.48 m wide at the head. The general scheme of decoration is the same as on (1), but in this case there is a foliated cross at the top of the slab and a galley at the foot, the hunting-scene being omitted. The plant-scrolls differ in design from those on (1), and each has only a single animal at the head. Iona school, 14th-15th century

RCAHMS 1980, visited May 1972

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