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Lochgoilhead, Church Of The Three Holy Brethren

Church (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Lochgoilhead, Church Of The Three Holy Brethren

Classification Church (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Lochgoilhead Kirk

Canmore ID 23614

Site Number NN10SE 4

NGR NN 19851 01461

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Lochgoilhead And Kilmorich
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NN10SE 4.00 19851 01461

NN10SE 4.01 19837 01482 Burial ground

(NN 1984 0145) Lochgoilhead church first appears on record in the 14th century, but there is a tradition that it was a Celtic site. Its dedication "The Church of the Three Brethren" is of a Celtic type. It was granted to the Collegiate Church of Kilmun (NS18SE 1) on its foundation in 1442 (Scott et al 1915-61).

H Scott et al 1915-61; M Paterson 1970.


Field Visit (1 March 1973)

The church is in use. There is no surviving evidence to prove a Celtic site. On display at the E interior of the church are several small inscribed stones.

Suveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (D W R) 1 March 1973.

Conservation (1998)

NN 198 014. An extensive ongoing conservation programme involving the wholesale exposure of the masonry fabric of the church to the exterior and of the E gable wall on the interior, and limited groundworks in the vicinity of the E end both internally and externally. Monitoring and architectural survey were undertaken from 1995 to 1998.

The recent works have permitted a full assessment of the evolution of the present structure. The body of the existing kirk contains substantial portions of the fabric of its late medieval predecessor within the E, N and W walls. The internal splay of the E window was tentatively identified and S of this a small unadorned aumbry was revealed (and reinstated as part of the conservation works). Two well-preserved blocked windows, rectangular with simple chamfered surrounds, were exposed on the N and W walls. Within the masonry of subsequent rebuildings many moulded architectural dressings had been reused, most doubtless coming from this early structure and some possibly from a monument within. One fragment formed part of a voussoir displaying a glazing groove and a well-formed cusp that was apparently part of the former E window.

Laying of new paving within the E end exposed a small surviving section of a flagstone floor and what may have been the slight truncated remains of a masonry altar, both apparently contemporary with the early church fabric.

The structure is tentatively dated to c 1440 on the basis of documentary source material and similarity of carved details to those of the W tower of the former collegiate church at Kilmun, similarly endowed by Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochawe.

The blocked entrance to the Campbell burial aisle of c 1590 that formerly abutted the E gable was recorded. Exterior trenching at the E end revealed the founds of this structure and a single inhumation within (not disturbed).

A major episode of rebuilding was identified within the standing fabric. This had involved the slight broadening of the nave by the reconstruction of its S wall, the reconstruction of wall-heads throughout and the insertion of a new roof. Payments made in 1644 'for building the queir and repaireing of the kirk of Lochgoilshead' can be identified with this work, as can the occurrence of a distinctive mason's mark in the form of a crossed double-headed arrow.

Subsequent additions of a N aisle, a session house to the S and the insertion of various large nave windows were also defined. The former contained a blocked doorway and displayed a series of mason's marks upon lintels throughout.

The trench along the E end exposed the remains of two substantial mortared footings that clearly lay beneath the existing masonry fabric of the 15th-century church. Whether these represented an immediate predecessor or an Early Christian structure was not determined.

Mortar and harl samples were taken from all phases as a comparative collection for future analysis and vested with the Scottish Lime Centre.

Reports will be lodged with the NMRS.

Sponsors: Historic Scotland, Parish of Lochgoilhead & Kilmorich.

T Addyman 1998



Lochgoilhead Kirk.

Plans: I. G. Lindsay Collection, W/251


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