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Kilmory, Chapel

Chapel (Medieval), Grave Slab(S) (Medieval)

Site Name Kilmory, Chapel

Classification Chapel (Medieval), Grave Slab(S) (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Kilmory Knap Chapel; St Maelrubha's Chapel

Canmore ID 39050

Site Number NR77NW 3

NGR NR 70267 75102

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish South Knapdale
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll


Field Visit (23 September 1942)

This site was included within the RCAHMS Emergency Survey (1942-3), an unpublished rescue project. Site descriptions, organised by county, vary from short notes to lengthy and full descriptions and are available to view online with contemporary sketches and photographs. The original typescripts, manuscripts, notebooks and photographs can also be consulted in the RCAHMS Search Room.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 10 December 2014.

Field Visit (5 June 1973)

A roofed chapel as described. Several unprovenanced cross slabs are also on display inside.

Visited by OS (DWR) 5 June 1973

Desk Based Assessment (1973)

NR77NW 3 70267 75102

See also NR77NW 2.

(NR 7027 7511) Chapel (NR) (In Ruins)

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

Kilmory chapel, typical of the West Highlands, measures 38' x 17' internally. It has a pair of round-arched east windows. Within it is a collection of late medieval sculptured stones, removed from the graveyard outside, where a few more remain.

M Campbell and M Sandeman 1964; S Piggott and W D Simpson 1970

Information from OS.

Field Visit (25 January 1977)

No change to the report of OS (DWR).

Surveyed at 1/10,000.

Visited by OS (BS) 25 January 1977.

Field Visit (September 1985)

The MacMillan Cross (see NR77NW 2) was moved inside the Chapel in 1981.

Visited by OS Reviser September 1985

Measured Survey (1986)

RCAHMS surveyed the chapel, Kilmory Knap in 1986 producing a plan at a scale of 1:100. A profile moulding of the door jamb and interior and exterior elevations, a section and a plan of the east windows at a scale of 1:20 where also produced. The plan was redrawn in ink and published at a scale of 1:250 (RCAHMS 1992, 161D), the profile of the entrance doorway at 1:10 (RCAHMS 1992, 162B), and the east window at 1:20 (RCAHMS 1992, 162C). The plan was also included in an illustration of comparative plans of medieval churches and chapels published at a scale of 1:250 (RCAHMS 1992, 11D).

Field Visit (June 1987)

This medieval chapel is situated on a terrace above a small stream, 0.6km NE of Kilmory Bay at the E side of the mouth of Loch Sween. It is surrounded by the buildings of the former township of Kilmory, many of them formerly thatched but now roofless (en.1). The existing rectangular churchyard-wall is of 19th-century date, and there is no evidence of an earlier enclosure.

The chapel appears to have been built early in the 13th century, and it is mentioned in the second half of that century as a dependency of the parish church of Knapdale at Keills (No. 45), the revenues of both being granted to Kilwinning Abbey. This grant identified the chapel as that of St Mary, but local tradition in the 19th century associated it with St Maelrubha of Applecross (en.2*).

The walls are preserved to their full height, except for the E gable, which has been reduced almost to wall head-level. The masonry was repaired at the expense of the 5th Marquess of Northampton some time before 1915 (en.3), and in 1934 the building was restored with a glass roof by the Office of Works to house Early Christian and medieval stones from the chapel and churchyard. Its masonry is composed principally of pink and grey quartzite boulders, with occasional blocks of chlorite-schist, ranged in regular courses with abundant pinnings and slabs of chlorite-schist. The angle-quoins and window- and door-dressings are of buff or purple sandstone, but except for the window-heads they have largely been removed or renewed. There are remains of early plaster on the inner faces of the Sand E walls.

The chapel measures 11.5m from E to W by 5.2m transversely within 0.9m walls, the height to the wall-head being about 4.4m. The entrance-doorway is at the W end of the S wall, and although its dressings have been extensively renewed, the badly-weathered lowest course remains in situ. Its arch had two orders of engaged shafts, the inner of which, rising directly from the threshold, is of keeled section. The outer order rose from circular bases, now much weathered, and has been restored with circular shafts, but its original form is uncertain, the upper surfaces of the bases being apparently designed for much smaller shafts.

The E end of the chapel was lit by a pair of round-headed windows in the E wall, and by two almost opposed single-light openings near the E ends of the side-walls. A further window, now blocked, was situated 4m from the E end of the S wall and probably lit the E end of the nave. Its rubble internal dressings are of recent construction, and a photograph of about 1870 (en.4*) shows that none of the original dressings then survived, but externally the splayed ingoes and rubble mid-section of the arch-head are visible within the thickness of the wall. The inner and outer surrounds of the E windows preserve most of their sandstone dressings, while the central parts of the ingoes and arch-soffits are of rubble. The daylight-openings, which are much worn, appear to have been wrought with an external chamfer, and their original splayed sills are preserved, although that in the N light has been partially remodelled internally with schist; the inner parts of the sills are flat. The semi-circular rear-arches retain sockets for the arch-centering at springing-level, close to the inner wall-face. The windows in the side-walls resembled the E windows, but their sills appear to have been lowered internally, and the sills of their daylight-openings have been replaced in schist, apparently during the medieval period. The dressed stonework of the N window has been almostentirely removed, but the inner arch-head of the S window remains intact (en.5). A simple aumbry in the S part of the E wall (en.6) is the only other internal feature.

Many of the graveslabs and effigies described below were in the chapel before its renovation, although their original positions are unknown and this may be mainly the result of late use of the ruined building. Excavation in the N half of the E end in 1981, in advance of the resiting of MacMillan's Cross (infra, number 38), exposed four adult inhumations at a high level, and other loose skulls and bones against the footings of the E wall (en.7).

RCAHMS 1992, visited June 1987

[see RCAHMS 1992 No. 76 for a detailed description of 41 funerary monuments and crosses]


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