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BENMORE & KILMUN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TRUST
Historic Kilmun / The Argyll Mausoleum Project
Connected to, but separate from, St Munn’s church in Kilmun stands the Argyll Mausoleum – the burial place for the Earls and Dukes of Argyll, Chiefs of the Clan Campbell, from the 14th century until 1949. Originally owned by the Argyll family, it is now owned by Argyll & Bute Council. The building had its last major renovation around 1890 and is in urgent need of restoration and repair; in 2007, the Council asked the local Benmore & Kilmun Community Development Trust if they would be prepared to take the lead on this project. This was agreed, and Argyll Mausoleum Limited (AML) was formed as a charitable company limited by guarantee to carry out the task.
Argyll Mausoleum Limited is charged by Argyll & Bute Council, the owners of the Mausoleum, to restore and conserve the building and artefacts and to open it to the public in a fitting and sensitive manner, including the construction of a visitor facility. Argyll Mausoleum Ltd will lease the building for 30 years from Argyll and Bute Council and raise the necessary funds to achieve these objectives.
Argyll Mausoleum Limited is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. Board Directors and Advisors include:
Benmore & Kilmun Community Development Trust
Brief History of Argyll Mausoleum
The Argyll Mausoleum is one of Scotland's undiscovered historical jewels right on the doorstep of the Cowal Community. It stands connected to, but separate from, the church in Kilmun, Argyll and is the burial place for the Dukes and Earls of Argyll, Chiefs of the Clan Campbell, from the 14th century until 1949. Originally owned by the Argyll family, it is now owned by Argyll & Bute Council. The building is in urgent need of restoration and repair; Argyll Mausoleum Limited is the charitable community led company set up to take the lead on this project.
The tradition of burying the Chiefs of the Campbell clan at Kilmun began, so the legend goes, with the untimely death in the lowlands of Celestine, the son of the Sir Duncan Campbell - "The Black Knight of Loch Awe" - an early leader of the Clan Campbell. In 1442, Sir Duncan, the first Lord Campbell, had endowed a collegiate church on the site. Sir Duncan apparently chose to bury his son at Kilmun. As was common in those times with burials of important people, the body would have been buried beneath the aisle of the church. Sir Duncan and his wife Marjory (great, great grand-daughter of Robert the Bruce) were subsequently also buried in the church with their effigies above the tombs. From then on, the tradition continued that many of the Dukes of Argyll and their families were buried beneath the aisles of Kilmun church. In 1660, a separate private chapel attached to the church was built for the Argyll tombs. In 1794, the private chapel was demolished and the separate Mausoleum was constructed in its place, with some of the more important remains being moved from the private chapel into the Mausoleum. These included the effigies of Sir Duncan Campbell and his wife. The present larger church was built in 1841, and two of the walls of the Mausoleum now are integrated with the church. In 1890, the Mausoleum was renovated by the Marquis of Lorne, subsequently the ninth Duke of Argyll, and the original slated roof was replaced by the current cast iron dome. The ninth Duke married Princess Louise, fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. When her father-in-law (eighth Duke) died in 1900, Princess Louise made a sculpture in his memory. This, along with other interesting items, is part of the collection of artefacts to be found inside the Mausoleum. The last burial in the Mausoleum, in 1949, was of the 10th Duke of Argyll.
For all current information about the Argyll Mausoleum project, please visit the Links section and follow the link to Historic Kilmun.