Work begins on restoration of historic mausoleum

The £1M project to restore the historic Argyll Mausoleum at St Munns in Kilmun gets going this month, June 2013.

The Argyll Mausoleum was built in 1790 to house the remains of the Dukes and Earls of Argyll, Chiefs of the Clan Campbell and their families. This Mausoleum continued a tradition of these burials dating back to the 15th century.

Archaeological and historical research has indicated that settlement on the site may date back to 3,500BC.

Religious aspects of it are expected to be traced back to the 7th-8th century and to have links to both the early Celtic church and to the Viking period. Recent archaeological surveys have indicated a possible presence of an 8th century monastic settlements and remains of a 12th century church.

Argyll mausoleum

Argyll Mausoleum Ltd, a charitable trust, was formed six years ago by the Benmore & Kilmun Community Development Trust, to secure the necessary funds needed to complete the works of restoration.

Involved with Argyll Mausoleum Ltd are the Church of Scotland, Argyll & Bute Council, Argyll Estates, with advice and support given by Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.

The restoration project has extensive community support – made manifest when it featured as one of the top wishes in both the 2008 and 2012 Community Action Plans, developed by the Benmore & Kilmun Community Development Trust, with support from the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.

Contracts have now been awarded, with specialist companies who will restore the Mausoleum and create a brand new visitor facility.

Part of the restoration involves conserving important artefacts including statues and effigies ranging from the 15th to 19th centuries.

Welcoming the announcement, Dinah McDonald, Chair of Argyll Mausoleum Ltd, says:  ‘We’re delighted that, after 6 years of fund raising, we are starting to work on site.

‘Over the next year, work will take place to restore the building and artefacts and to build a new welcome facility and create accessible visitor facilities within the adjacent Church of Scotland.’

The overall project will be completed by late summer 2014. The Trust hopes to open the Mausoleum and the new visitor facilities to the public in mid-2014.

The companies who will be carrying out the work include:

  • Architects: Icosis / Stephen Newsom, Edinburgh
  • Main contract: W H Kirkwood Ltd, Greenock
  • Interpretation: Aaron Lawton Associates, Edinburgh
  • Artefact Restoration: Nicolas Boyes Stone Conservation Ltd, Edinburgh
  • Archaeology: Argyll Archaeology, Campbeltown

The total funding of over £1 million is made up of significant grants awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Historic Scotland and Argyll & the Islands Leader. Argyll & Bute Council and the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority have also made major contributions. The rest of the funding package comes from the Church of Scotland; Argyll Estates; contributions from Shanks Argyll and Bute Ltd and Argyll and Bute Council made through the Landfill Communities Fund; together with contributions from local businesses; and local fund raising initiatives.

Seeing the end result of this painstaking initiative will be a great pleasure, leaving a substantial boon for Argyll, Cowal and for Kilmun.

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