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Islay, Kilchoman, Kilchoman Old Parish Church

Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Church (19th Century), Cross(S) (Period Unassigned), Cross Slab(S) (Early Medieval)

Site Name Islay, Kilchoman, Kilchoman Old Parish Church

Classification Burial Ground (Period Unassigned), Church (19th Century), Cross(S) (Period Unassigned), Cross Slab(S) (Early Medieval)

Canmore ID 37464

Site Number NR26SW 10

NGR NR 21610 63231

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilchoman
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NR26SW 10.00 21610 63231

NR26SW 10.01 21619 63210 Kilchoman Cross and Burial Ground

This early 19th-century church stands in a conspicuous position on a raised beach at an elevation of about 45m OD,

about 0.9km E of Machir Bay and overlooking the hollow in which the former manse (RCAHMS 1984,No. 412) is situated. The dedication was presumably to one of the several Irish saints named Command* and the existence of two cross-slabs situated respectively 380 m ESE and 330m SW of the church (RCAHMS 1984, numbers 1 and 2 see NR36SW 10) suggests an Early Christian church of some importance. The medieval church, with its dependent chapels at Kilchiaran, Kilnave and Nereabolls (RCAHMS 1984, Nos.365, 374 and 384 respectively), served a parish covering the whole of the Rinns. It was an independent parsonage in the gift of the Lords of the Isles, and from the second half of the 14th century onwards the names of many of the parsons and vicars are recorded, often in the context of disputed claims to the benefices.2 The parish was united with that ofKilarrow from 1618 to 1769, when it again acquired separate parochial status. Little is known of the earlier buildings on the site. A sum of #15 was assigned for repairs to the church in 1730, and further minor repairs were undertaken between 1789 and 1791.3 This building was condemned as unsafe in 1824, and in the following year plans were produced for a new church, which was completed in 1827. At the same time the extensive church yard was further enlarged.4 The present building, although still roofed, is itself in a poor state of repair and was last used

forworshipin 1977.'*

The two-storeyed rectangular main block of the church measures 18-4m from N to S by 12.5m transversely over walls

0.8m in thickness. Centrally placed against the N gable-wall is an angle-buttressed oblong tower measuring 3.7m from N to S by 4.3m. The tower rises through three stages to a battlemented parapet and incorporates a range of arch-

pointed openings, some of which have been wholly or partly blocked. Beneath a partly-infilled round-headed opening in

the N face of the tower there is a blind recess possibly designed to receive a rectangular panel. The slightly larger

arch-pointed windows of the main block that remain glazed have sash-framed windows with simple Y-tracery branched

into the heads. The walling is ofharled rubble masonry, and the arched window-heads are constructed of thin slab-

voussoirs. Dressings of buff sandstone have been used for the window-sills, gable-copes, buttresses and tower-parapet.

The church has a galleried interior with a late 19th-century arrangement of bench-pews facing the pulpit, which stands

against the S wall. The U-shaped gallery is supported on wooden columns and is fronted by bays of raised and fielded

panelling and intermediate reeded strip-pilasters. The vestry was formerly on the first floor of the tower, and has a

blocked-up fireplace in the E wall.

Funerary Monuments and Crosses

Number 2 stands in a field 330m SW of the church (see NR36SW 9, NR 213 630). Number I, which formerly lay beside a track on a hillside 380m ESE of the church (NR 219 631), and numbers 14 and 26, which were formerly in the church porch, are now in the Museum of Islay Life, Port Charlotte. Number 12, formerly used to mark a grave in the churchyard, is in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland. Numbers 30 and 31 are in the Campbell of Ballinaby burial-enclosure and the remaining stones are in the churchyard, most of them in the positions marked on Graham's plan. (see NR26SW 10)"

Visited October 1982


Site Management (11 November 1992)

Gothic. Nave. Tower at N. end. Harled. Slate roof. Pointed windows, doors, blind arches. Crenellated tower with buttresses. Interior: gallery on 3 sides; cast-iron columns. Fragments of 2 ancient crosses.

Built on site of ancient chapel of St. Comman on exposed position on hill (Historic Scotland)


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