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Seil, Kilbrandon

Burial Ground (Medieval), Chapel (Medieval)(Possible), Gravestone(S) (17th Century) - (18th Century), Gravestone(S) (Medieval), Parish Church (Medieval)

Site Name Seil, Kilbrandon

Classification Burial Ground (Medieval), Chapel (Medieval)(Possible), Gravestone(S) (17th Century) - (18th Century), Gravestone(S) (Medieval), Parish Church (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Kilbrandon Old Parish Church; 'cill Bhrianainn'

Canmore ID 22600

Site Number NM71NE 2

NGR NM 76332 16656

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilbrandon And Kilchattan
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM71NE 2 7633 1665

(NM 7633 1665) Chapel (NR)

OS 6" map, Argyllshire, 2nd ed., (1900)

There was a pre-Reformation chapel at Kilbrandon which Simpson (1935) states was founded by St Brendan c. 545. Its remains are in the small enclosure near the W end of the burial ground, only about 15' of walling standing c. 4' high. It appears to have stood in the centre of the burial ground, the portion on the E having been recently taken in.

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (ONB, 1870) gives an alternative name of Cill Brandon for this chapel, while Watson (1926) gives the name as "Cill Bhrianainn".

New Statistical Account (NSA) 1845; W D Simpson 1935; Name Book 1870; W J Watson 1926.

There are several sculptured stones in the churchyard of the old chapel of Kilbrandon, notably the gravestone of the Maclachlans of Kilbride, which stands just S of the old chapel wall.

W I Macadam 1896.

Six metres of the N wall and a portion of the SE corner only exist, in poor condition. The whole area formerly occupied by the chapel is covered with graves, some tombstones dating back to the early 19th c. The name could not be verified.

Visited by OS (RD) 22 September 1971.

The RCAHMS (1975) suggest that the remains are those of a medieval church rather than of a pre-Reformation chapel.

RCAHMS 1975.

Site included in an archaeological and historical survey.

R Regan, B Black and S Webb, 2004.


Field Visit (July 1971)

NM 763 166 Old Parish Church, Kilbrandon, Seil.

The medieval church of Kilbrandon is now represented only by the W portion of its N wall, 6'4 m in length and 0·8 min thickness, which stands to a maximum height of 1'1 m, and incorporates on the N side an arched recess over the tombstone of J McLauchlane (infra). The church, whose dedication was to St Brendan of Clonfert, an Irish saint of the 6th century, served a parish which comprised Seil and adjoining small islands, and the adjacent portion of the mainland. It was united with Kilchattan at an unrecorded date, probably in the early 17th century, and the church appears to have become ruinous before the end of the 17th century (OPS, ii,pt.1,102).


The following monuments are all situated in the highest part of the burial-ground.


(1) Parallel-sided slab, the bottom of which has broken off; it measures 1·60 m in length by 0'46 m in width. At the top there is a panel which has contained an inscription in Lombardic capitals at least five lines in length (Steer and Bannerman, No.68). The first three lines read: + HIC IACE/T CALLENU / S PAT [RICII] ... (‘Here lies Colin, son of Patrick ... '). Nothing can be made of the other lines, and any decoration that may have existed on the remainder of the slab has been completely obliterated. The fact that the inscription is in Lombardic capitals suggests that the stone was carved before 1500.

(2) Tapered slab, both ends of which are concealed beneath the supports of a later table-tomb. It bears a sword with lobated pommel, and a large thick-stalked plant-scroll. (White, Knapdale, pl. xlix, I). 14th-15th century.

(3) Tapered slab with bevelled edges, broken across the centre; it measures 1 '90 m in length by some 0'50 m in width at the head. There are two plain mouldings on the bevel, and another plain moulding with a row of elongated nail-head ornament inside it round the margin of the upper surface. The decoration within the border is generally similar to that on (2) above. The initials A M D and B L H N have been incised at a later date at the top of the stone. 14th-15th century.

(4) Tapered slab with bevelled edges, measuring 1'74 m in length by 0'52 m in width at the head. There is a single row of mixed dog-tooth and elongated nailhead ornament on the bevel, and a similar row of ornament between two plain mouldings round the margin of the upper surface. At the top is a pair of shears and a miniature sword, while below these are two animals from whose legs issues a plant-scroll pattern which, apart from a casket at the foot, covers the rest of the surface of the slab. A secondary inscription, reading MR I M, has been incised near the head. (White, Knapdale, pl. xlix, 2). Loch Awe school, c. 1500.


(5) A recumbent slab of schist (Pl. 29D) bearing the incised inscription HIC IACET MR IOHANES MC/LAUCHLANE EVANGELII FIDELIS / PRAECO IN LORNIA INFERIORI AC /MELFORDA QUI AETATIS SUAE SEPTUA/GESIMO OCTAVO OBIIT ANNOQ(UE) / INCARNATIONIS CHRISTI MDC/LXXXV TERTIO NONNOMBR (‘Here lies Mr John McLauchlane, a faithful preacher of the gospel in Nether Lorn and Melford, who died at the age of 78 on the 3rd November, 1685’). Above the inscription a shield is carved in relief within a sinuous foliage-border bearing quarterly: 1st, a lion rampant; 2nd, an open book; 3rd, a galley, pennon flying; 4th, a salmon naiant. The upper portion of the slab bears an angel's head and wings and the emblems of mortality, all carved in high relief, and the inscription MEMENTO MORI ('Remember death') incised on a scroll with tasselled terminals. John McLauchlane, who was admitted to the parish of Kilninver and Kilmelford in 1650, was a son of John MacLachlan, minister of Kilbrandon and Kilchattan from 1621 to 1660, and a member of a local family distinguished for Gaelic scholarship (Scott, Fasti, iv, 88, 96; Gillies, Netherlom, 18-20; Scottish Studies, xii (1968), 63, 67; Argyll Synod Minutes, ii, 194-5.).

(6) A sandstone table-tomb bearing a greatly-worn inscription, which appears to commemorate Duncan, brother to Mr John McLachlan, and carved in relief with a shield bearing, quarterly: 1st, a ?lion passant; 2nd, a sinister hand couped fessways holding a cross pattee; 3rd, a galley; 4th, a salmon naiant. The shield is contained within a foliated border similar to that carved on (5), and the two monuments may be by the same craftsman. The table-tomb rests upon end-slabs ,of which that at the head bears the initials DM ML, and the date 1745; these slabs are evidently of later date than the main slab, and the person commemorated may be Duncan, son of the Rev. J McLachlan, whose monument is described above, and minister of Strachur and Strathlachlan, who died within a few months of his father, in 1685 or 1686 (Scott, Fasti, iv, 44).

(7) Gillies describes a recumbent slab bearing the emblems of mortality and the following marginal inscription: HERE LYES MARGARET CAMPBELL, SPOUS TO ROBERT GRANT OF BRANCHELL, WHO DIED AT OBANE, THE NINTH OF SEPTEMBER 1681. This monument could not be identified at the date of visit. Robert Grant, who is said to have been a factor of Lord Neil Campbell of Ardmaddy, was murdered by the Macleans of Duart (Gillies, Netherlorn, 21-2).

(8-9) Among the later monuments, the following are of interest: A recumbent slab (8) of sandstone bearing the emblems of mortality and a worn Latin inscription commemorating Elizabeth, wife of - Sutherland, who was born in 1696 and died in 1726. In the lower part of the slab is an almost totally illegible series of pious verses in English.

A table-tomb (9) of sandstone, erected by Alexander McDougall, 'tacksman of Port Rerrer', to commemorate his brother Allan, son to Allan and Katrin McDougall and 'representiv of the late family of Balichun', who died in 1759 aged 22. Within elaborate mantling there is carved a shield, bearing quarterly: 1st, a lion rampant; 2nd, a castle of three towers; 3rd, a galley; 4th, a dexter hand couped fessways holding a cross-crosslet. For crest there is a dexter hand couped, in pale, holding a cross crosslet. At the head and foot of the slab there are carved in relief small winged angels' heads.

(10) Gillies (Ibid, 22) describes 'a small, erect slab of red sandstone, bearing the Campbell Arms' which marked a burial-place of the family of Campbell of Calder, who owned land in the parish. This could not be identified at the date of visit.

RCAHMS 1975, visited July 1971


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