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Ardchattan Priory

House (19th Century), Priory (Medieval)

Site Name Ardchattan Priory

Classification House (19th Century), Priory (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Ardchattan Priory Church; Ardchattan House

Canmore ID 23259

Site Number NM93SE 1

NGR NM 97099 34911

NGR Description Centred on NM 97099 34911

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Ardchattan And Muckairn (Argyll And Bute)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM93SE 1 97099 34911

(NM 97133492) Remains of (NAT)

Priory (NR) (Valliscaulian - founded 1230) (NAT)

OS 1:10000 map (1975)

The Valliscaulian priory of Ardchattan, dedicated to St May and St John the Baptist (D E Easson 1957), was founded in 1230 or 1231, and a church with associated conventional buildings was erected soon after. The church comprised a small choir and crossing, north and south transepts with double transeptal chapels, and a nave having a narrow north aisle. The conventual buildings were disposed round a cloister on the south side of the church, but the west range was represented only by a cloister walk and an outer retaining wall. Of the buildings of this period, there remains today the south transept with its two chapels and some fragments of the nave and crossing.

A major scheme of reconstruction was begun and partially completed during the 15th and early 16th centuries when a new and much larger choir with an adjacent north sacristy was erected, and parts of the crossing, north transept and nave were rebuilt. The south range of the conventual buildings was also re-modelled, a new refectory being con- structed on the site of the original one. All these buildings survive today either in whole or in part.

The priory was secularised towards the end of the 16th century and passed into the hands of the Campbells who converted the south range of the conventual buildings into a private dwelling house, and the choir and transepts of the church were used for parochial worship. The monastic church fell into disuse, except for the purpose of burial, following the erection of a new parish church in 1731-2.

The house was enlarged and re-modelled in about the middle of the 19th century and numerous minor alternations have been carried out since, but the monastic refectory still survives as the nucleus of the present mansion, whose offices and outbuildings now extend over the site of the former nave and cloister. The remaining portions of the choir and transepts of the monastic church passed into the guardianship of DoE in 1954.

Of the many funerary monuments and carved stones to be seen at Ardchattan a stone leaning against the north wall of the Campbell of Lochnell aisle is of especial interest. This is a cross-decorated stone with fine, intricate carvings of early-Christian origin. It was presumably brought to Ardchattan from some nearby early-Christian burial-ground.

RCAHMS 1975, visited 1971


Field Visit (26 October 1971)

As described.

Surveyed at 1:2500 scale.

Visited by OS (DWR) 26 October 1971

Field Visit (1971)

RCAHMS 1975, visited 1971

Excavation (1995)

NM 971 349. Small scale excavation was carried out by Scotia Archaeology Limited in advance of the construction of a stone shelter to house several late medieval grave slabs and an early Christian cross slab. There was no evidence of any prior buildings or burials of any age within the area investigated, only a series of paths running alongside a garden wall which probably dates to the 19th century.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland.

R Murdoch 1995.

Watching Brief (23 February 1998)

NM 9713 3494. A watching brief was conducted during the excavation of a hole designed to provide a base for the Ardchattan Cross at the Valliscaulian priory, first constructed in the early 13th century. The location chosen was the upstanding arch, connecting the nave and the choir, in order to shelter the slab from the elements.

Much disarticulated skeletal material, most of it evidently human, was recovered from a general graveyard soil. At 450mm below the modern ground surface an articulated burial was found at the N end of the trench. Fragments of wood, with a corroded iron attachment, presumably part of a coffin, ran parallel to the N of the skeleton. Parts of the pelvis, with fingers resting on it, and the top of the right femur were noted, but the left (S) side appeared to have been truncated.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Murray 1998

Kirkdale Archaeology

Excavation (28 October 1998)

Kirkdale Archaeology were asked to supervise the excavation of a foundation trench for the Ardchattan Cross and also a strip foundation for it’s shelter. The location chosen was just to the North of the Priory where it was hoped that no inhumations would be present. No archaeology lay within the excavated trenches and no disturbance was caused.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Connolly 1998

Kirkdale Archaeology



Robert Brydall drawings - large - 5 sheets of drawings of sculptured slabs.

Only 3 drawings by R Brydall were found at time of upgrade (1.7.1999) - AGD 94/2, 4 and 5

The NMRS also holds rubbings of the carved stones at Ardchattan Priory, that have yet to be catalogued. See Ian Fisher.


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