Back in September this year, a £1 million funding package was put together for the restoration of the building and artefacts of the Argyll Mausoleum in Kilmun in Cowal and the creation of visitor facilities at the adjacent church of St Munns.
Now, on 16th January, the charitable company responsible for the restoration is holding a community consultation lunch, with members of their Board, the architects, the interpretation team and the Events Coordinator.
Everyone interested is warmly welcome to come, with tea on offer for £1.50, coffee for £2 and soup and sandwiches for £4.
The mausoleum houses the tombs of the Argyll chiefs of Clan Campbell from 1442 until 1949. Its uncertain legal ownership was resolved by Argyll and Bute Council taking ownership to itself and then leasing the building to Argyll Mausoleum Ltd, a charitable company taking on the restoration project.
The major part of the funding package announced in September 2012 was made up of £310,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF); over £200,000 from each of Historic Scotland and Argyll & the Islands Leader. Argyll & Bute Council will fund £100,000 and over £70,000 will come from Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority.
The rest of the funding came from contributions from the Church of Scotland, Argyll Estates, Shanks Argyll and Bute Ltd/Argyll and Bute Council [through the Landfill Communities Fund], together with local businesses and the results of local fund raising efforts.
As well as the restoration challenges, the company wants to build new visitor facilities within St Munns Church and to be able to open up the Mausoleum to the community, to schools and to visitors.
The Board has appointed Nic Boyes Stone Conservation (NBSC) to conserve and restore the artefacts, which have been removed to safe storage to prevent further deterioration in the cold damp of the Mausoleum, until funding is secured to begin full restoration.
In 2011, Icosis Architects were appointed as professional advisors to the project and Aaron Lawton Associates have been charged with interpretation duties, bringing life to the numerous stories unearthed in the Mausoleum grounds.
Both of these appointments will decide how the visitor facility is shaped – physically and in content – and will look to provide an incredible asset to both local and national heritage.
This is a five phase project. The first is the restoration of the Mausoleum, the conservation of the artefacts and the opening of the visitor facility. The other four stages are:
- Restoration and opening to visitors of the 15th century tower, once part of the collegiate church.
- Archaeological investigations of the accessible parts of the site (this has already begun, with help from local schools and volunteers)
- Investigation and restoration of the 19th century Douglas Mausoleum, situated behind the church and Mausoleum.
- Investigation and restoration of the ancient part of the graveyard.
There have already been significant findings from the archaeological investigations the company has already had done – and an event is planned for the 8th March 2013, where the stories will be revealed by the archaeologist, John Atkinson, from GUARD Archaeology. This event and date do, however, still have to be confirmed.
There is a fun night at the Burgh Hall in Dunoon planned for the evening of that day – 8th February – with cocktails, a quiz, and the Jack Ruby Trio, who will be performing for the music round of the quiz (and for dancin’ after). This is clearly on course to be an evening to remember.
So that is two definite dates for the diary, with a possible third:
- 16th January 2013 at 12.30pm at Kilmun Hall for the consultation on the restoration project and the visitor facilities
- 8th February 2013 in the Burgh Hall in Dunoon for the evening cocktails, quiz and dance
- 8th March 2013 – the possibility of the telling of recovered tales from the archaeological investigations.
Note: The photograph at the top, of the Argyll Mausoleum at St Munns, is © Argyll Mausoleum Ltd.