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Kilmaha, Rubha Na Fidhle

Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Chapel (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Kilmaha, Rubha Na Fidhle

Classification Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Chapel (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Loch Awe

Canmore ID 23138

Site Number NM90NW 1

NGR NM 9380 0781

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilchrenan And Dalavich
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll


Field Visit (26 February 1970)

NM90NW 1 9380 0781.

(NM 9380 0781) Chapel (NR) (site of)

Cross Slabs (NR)

Chapel and Burial Ground, Kilmaha (Site): This site, which formerly lay within a Forestry Commission plantation, was severely damaged by a gale in 1968, when all the standing timber was uprooted and blown down. Although the trunks of the fallen trees have since been removed, large stump-holes remain and these, together with a thick overburden of brushwood and other vegetation, make effective investigation impossible. Consequently, the RCAHM report was prepared mainly from Miss Campbell's survey carried out some time between 1954 and 1963.

The site occupies a small promontory, known as Rubha na Fidhle. Within an enclosure-wall of drystone construction there were the remains of two sub-oval buildings, of which the first measured about 6.5m from NW to SE by 2.4m transversely within walls some 1.4m in thickness. In the centre of the NE wall there was a doorway, 0.6m wide. The second building, which stood at right angles to the first and adjacent to its SW corner, measured about 9.1m from NE to SW by 3.3m transversely within walls some 1.5m in thickness. A little further to the SW, and at a lower level, there were slight traces of a third building.

Nothing is known of the history of the site, but in view of the evidence provided by the associated carved stones (infra) it may be ascribed to the Early Christian period. The dedication is said to have been to St Mochoe of Nendrum, but Watson explains the place-name as a corruption of Cill Mo-Thata, and suggests that it commemorates an Irish saint of the name of Tua. Another possibility is St Kentigern, the Gaelic version of whose nickname was Mochoe.

On the surface of a rock outcrop situated between the burial-ground and the tip of the promontory, there is a crudely incised Early Christian carving (NM90NW 1.03) consisting of a 'Maltese' ring-cross with sunken interspaces and a short stem or handle, which is flanked by two long-robed figures. The heads of the figures resemble those of birds rather than of men, but it is uncertain whether this is accidental or deliberate. The carving is difficult to distinguish since the rock is heavily cracked and fissured. Within the burial ground are the remains of two Early Christian carved stones.

(1) The greater part of a cross-decorated stone (NM90NW 1.01), which has clearly been intended to stand upright. When complete it measured about 1.9m in length by 0.47m in greatest width, and 0.11m to 0.19m in thickness. On one face it bore a ring-headed cross with sunk arm-pits, and a shaft defined by deeply-incised lines and open at the foot. In the centre of the shaft immediately below the cross-head, there is a cup-shaped depression, while to the right of the shaft is a linked row of circles and bosses of different sizes. Two of the circles enclose central hollows, after the fashion of Bronze Age cup-and-ring markings. The edges and back of the stone are undecorated. The cross-head was broken off during the gale of 1968 and has since disappeared, but photographs of the stone taken prior to that date, on which the illustration is partly based, are preserved in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS).

(2) A cross-decorated stone in two pieces (NM90NW 1.02). When complete it measured 2.20m long by 0.50m in greatest width and 0.14m to 0.18m in thickness. On one face there is a triple-barred cross in false relief, the arms being embellished by incised decoration. The opposite face bears a (? ring-headed) cross, the shaft of which is ornamented with interlace, while the spaces on either side are decorated with step patterns.

When visited in 1970, the site of this chapel and burial ground was virtually obliterated by the fallen trees. Traces of two small rectangular buildings were noted, with two cross slabs described by the R C A H M lying to the E. The incised Maltese cross was noted some 50.0m to the SW, though the other figures inscribed on the rock could not be distinguished.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 26 February 1970.

RCAHMS 1975; M Campbell and M Sandeman 1961-2; W J Watson 1926; K H Jackson 1958.

Measured Survey (18 September 2012 - 19 September 2012)

A detailed archaeological measured survey, walk-over survey and geophysical survey was undertaken at the site during September 2012. A rectified photographic detailed recording of the rock-carving at Rubha Na Fidhle was also made. These works were undertaken on behalf of Forestry Commission Scotland. Results from this assessment recorded the nature and extent of upstanding archaeological remains at the site, as well as potential subsurface archaeological features.

Information from Oasis (rubiconh1-140566) 5 March 2014



Kilmaha, Cross-decorated stones. ARGYLL St

NMR Lorn Lo

OS. NM90NW Kilmaha

INV.261 NM 937 078


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