Argyll Mausoleum

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Argyll Mausoleum


Argyll Mausoleum and St Munn's Parish Church - geograph 6307535.jpg
The Argyll Mausoleum
Type: Mausoleum
Grid reference: NS16608207
Location: 55°59’47"N, 4°56’32"W
Built 1795–96
For: The 5th Duke of Argyll
by James Lowrie
Owned by: Argyll Mausoleum Ltd

The Argyll Mausoleum stands beside St Munn's Church in Kilmory, Argyllshire: the two are physically attached but separate. The mausoleum was commissioned in the 1790s by John Campbell, 5th Duke of Argyll to house the mortal remains of the Dukes and Earls of Argyll, Chiefs of the Clan Campbell, and their families.[1] It is currently managed by Argyll Mausoleum Ltd, under the banner of Historic Kilmun,[2] who also have a modern visitor centre in the vestry of Kilmun Church.


The mausoleum was built for the 5th Duke in 1795–96, to the designs of James Lowrie. Since that time most of the Dukes of Argyll have been laid to rest here. It was built around an already extant Campbell vault which was originally located inside the collegiate church which preceded the kirk standing today.[3] Beginning with Archibald Campbell in 1442, the early burials on the site were under the floor of the mediæval church,[4] but the practice was forbidden in 1588 during the Reformation. While outlawing burials inside churches, it did not put an immediate end to the practice, and the Campbells eventually began to build a 'burial aisle', attached to the church.[5] A private chapel with family vault was constructed off the nave of the church by the 9th Earl of Argyll in 1669.[4] This vault remained in situ when the collegiate church was demolished and the present church built.[3] When the private chapel was demolished and a separate mausoleum built in its place, some of the more important remains were moved from the private chapel into the mausoleum. These included the effigies of Duncan Campbell and his wife. When in 1841 the old collegiate church was replaced, partially on the original site, by the current larger parish church, two of the walls of the Argyll Mausoleum were integrated into the new church.[5] The current building thus replaces an earlier chapel in the collegiate church and records indicate that Chiefs of the Clan Campbell have been buried or commemorated here since the 15th century[1] – a total of twenty generations over 500 years.[6]

When the Argyll Mausoleum was built in the 1790s, it first had a slate pyramid roof. The slate roof was replaced with a large cast iron]] dome during a thorough restoration of the mausoleum in the 1890s which was led by the Marquess of Lorne (who later succeeded as the 9th Duke).[4] While the installation of the large cast iron dome helped to improve lighting within the mausoleum, it was never properly sealed to the supporting walls and water began to enter the building. Water ingress seems to have been confined to the Argyll Mausoleum itself until around the 1970s. It then started to affect the adjacent parish church. St Munn's congregation were concerned and, assuming that the mausoleum was the property of the Duke of Argyll's Estates, requested that the problem be addressed. It turned out that the Dukes of Argyll did not own the mausoleum, but that it had transferred to the ownership of the local council in the 1920s. A 30-year legal wrangle ensued, before the situation was finally resolved and the Council conceded ownership of the deteriorating building.[6][7] In the early 2000s, a survey described the state of the mausoleum: "It has got water coming in the roof, water coming in the walls (...) Every time I come here I see more pieces of stone dropping off. The place is desperately in need of restoration."[6]

The necessary work was eventually carried out under the management of Argyll Mausoleum Ltd and the mausoleum was reopened in April 2015.



The Argyll Mausoleum is located at the north-east corner of the church and connected with the latter. The mausoleum is on a square-shaped floor plan with the pointed-arched entrance on the northern elevation, flanked by two blind-traceried lancets and applied pilasters.

One of the most noticeable features is the large cast iron dome over the building: in its the original form in the 1790s, the Mausoleum had a slated pyramid roof with no windows, so no daylight could enter the building unless the doors were open. This was changed by the Marquess of Lorne after his mother's funeral in 1878 – he described the interior as 'ghastly'[7] and effected a restoration in the 1890s which replaced the pyramid roof with a domed roof with rooflights and an enormous cast iron dome at the apex.[3][4] It is believed that the massive cast iron dome was forged at a foundry in the Glasgow shipyards[6] and transported to the site. The craftsmen's marks can still be seen on the inside of the roof. The decision to put such a heavy object on the extant mausoleum walls seems to have been controversial at the time, although the weight proved to have little detrimental effect.[7]


The interior of the Argyll Mausoleum consists of two platforms on the side walls with niches for coffins,[3] which are covered with inscribed sandstone slabs.[6] In addition to the tombs lining both sides of the mausoleum, there are also graves under the stone floor.[6]

Amongst the slabs set onto the floor, there is a metal cross with "Archibald, Marquis of Argyll" carved on the shaft and "Beheaded 1661" on the crossbar – the final resting place of Archibald Campbell, 8th Earl and 1st Marquess of Argyll,[5] whose body was buried at Kilmun after his execution in Edinburgh in 1661, his head being interred here three years later. His actual resting place was forgotten until the 1890s. As part of the restoration work carried out at the Argyll Mausoleum by the Marquess of Lorne, a pit was dug down the side of the mausoleum's inside wall to see how deep the foundations went and how strong they were. When the builders got to six feet down they found a skeleton and a skull alongside it, with a spike hole through it. The builder's notes also record finding a yellow wig there, and that it fell apart as soon as he touched it. Archibald Campbell was reburied in the centre of the mausoleum, with a cross to his memory set in the floor. At its foot, set low in the east of the walled burial aisle containing the Campbell tombs and carrying the commemorative stone plaques, is a plaque carrying the words spoken by him just before his execution.[5]

On the south wall there is a wide cusped arch over a niche containing two 15th century effigies. One is that of Duncan Campbell, 1st Lord Campbell, the founder of the collegiate church,[3][8] in full armour. The second effigy is of a female, probably Campbell's second wife, Margaret Stewart, the daughter of Sir John Stewart of Ardgowan.[9] These two mediæval burial effigies are thought to be the last examples of such quality in Scotland.[6] The decorated cusped arch over the two effigies was added in 1892 as part of the restoration work carried out by the Marquess of Lorne.

In the centre aisle of the mausoleum, between the tombs lining both side walls, stood a life-sized sculpture of an angel lifting Christ from the Cross. It was made by the Marquess of Lorne's wife, Princess Louise (Queen Victoria's fourth daughter), who was a skilled artist and had married the future 9th Duke of Argyll in 1871: the statue now resides inside a glass showcase in the visitor centre. Three casts were made of Princess Louise's design, one forming the monument to colonial soldiers of the Boer War in St Paul's Cathedral in London, while another is a memorial to Princess Louise's brother-in-law, Prince Henry of Battenberg, in St Mildred's Church, Whippingham. The cast placed in the Argyll Mausoleum may have been a tribute to her father-in-law, the 8th Duke of Argyll.

Campbell burials

It is believed that the earliest Chiefs of the Clan Campbell were laid to rest at Kilchrenan, and then on the island of Inishail in Loch Awe. When in 1442 Sir Duncan Campbell's eldest son Archibald died and a fierce snowstorm prevented the burial party from reaching the island of Inishail, the young man was buried at Kilmun, thus beginning the tradition of Kilmun as burial place of the Campbells. Various sources detail the names of the Campbell family members buried at Kilmun, and it can be seen that almost all clan Chiefs were buried here from 1442 until 1949.[4]

While the precise location of the early burials of members of the Clan Campbell on the Kilmun site is unknown, the location of the more recent interments in the Argyll Mausoleum is clearly visible. While the burials of clan Chiefs' wives were not recorded in the same way, the majority of them will have been buried beside their husbands and other unrecorded close family members will also lie at Kilmun.[4]

Burials of members of the Campbell family at Kilmun, both at the church and in the Argyll Mausoleum, include:[4]

  • Archibald Campbell, Master of Campbell († 1440s, also known as Celestine, Gillespic or Roy of Kilbride) – eldest son of the 1st Lord Campbell
  • Duncan Campbell, 1st Lord Campbell († 1453)
  • Marjorie Campbell, née Stewart – daughter of Robert Stewart and wife of the 1st Lord Campbell
  • Margaret Campbell, née Stewart – daughter of Sir John Stewart of Ardgowan and wife of the 1st Lord Campbell]]
  • Colin Campbell, 2nd Lord Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll († 1493)
  • Archibald Campbell, 2nd Earl of Argyll († 1513)
  • Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy († 1513)
  • Colin Campbell, 3rd Earl of Argyll († 1529)
  • Archibald Campbell, 4th Earl of Argyll († 1558)
  • Archibald Campbell, 5th Earl of Argyll († 1573)
  • Colin Campbell, 6th Earl of Argyll († 1584)
  • Janet Campbell, née Cunningham († 1585) – daughter of the Earl of Glencairn and wife of the 5th Earl of Argyll
  • Agnes Campbell, née Douglas († 1607) – daughter of the 6th Earl of Morton and wife of the 7th Earl of Argyll
  • Archibald Campbell, 7th Earl of Argyll († 1638)
  • Margaret Campbell, née Douglas – daughter of 7th Earl of Morton and wife of the 8th Earl and 1st Marquess of Argyll
  • Archibald Campbell, 8th Earl of Argyll, 1st Marquess of Argyll († 1661)
  • Mary Campbell, née Stewart († 1668) – daughter of the 4th Earl of Moray and wife of the 9th Earl of Argyll
  • Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll († 1685)
  • Some young children of the 9th Earl of Argyll
  • Archibald Campbell, 10th Earl of Argyll, 1st Duke of Argyll († 1703)
  • Elizabeth Campbell, née Tollemache – daughter of Sir Lionel Tollemache, 3rd Baronet and wife of 1st Duke of Argyll
  • Anne Mackenzie, Dowager Countess of Balcarres († 1707) – wife of the 9th Earl of Argyll
  • Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll († 1761)
  • John Campbell, 4th Duke of Argyll († 1770)
  • Elizabeth, Dowager Duchess of Hamilton († 1790) – wife of the 5th Duke of Argyll
  • John Campbell, 5th Duke of Argyll († 1806)
  • Joan Campbell, née Glassel († 1828) – daughter of John Glassel and wife of the 7th Duke of Argyll
  • John Henry Campbell of Longniddry († 1837) – son of the 7th Duke of Argyll, died young
  • George Campbell, 6th Duke of Argyll († 1839)
  • John Campbell, 7th Duke of Argyll († 1847)
  • Elizabeth Campbell, née Sutherland-Leveson-Gower († 1878) – daughter of 2nd Duke of Sutherland and wife of 8th Duke of Argyll
  • George Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll († 1900)
  • Archibald Campbell – son of the 8th Duke of Argyll, died young
  • John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll († 1914)
  • Niall Campbell, 10th Duke of Argyll († 1949)

Chiefs of the Clan Campbell buried elsewhere include the 2nd Duke of Argyll († 1743) who was buried at Westminster Abbey in London, as well as the 11th Duke of Argyll († 1973) and the 12th Duke of Argyll († 2001), who both chose to be buried on the island of Inishail in Loch Awe.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Kilmun Parish Church and Argyll Mausoleum)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Historic Kilmun: 'The Argyll Mausoleum: History Through Pictures'
  2. Historic Kilmun
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Kilmun Collegiate Church, tower and burial ground - scheduled monument detail (Historic Environment Scotland)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Historic Kilmun: 'The Argyll Mausoleum: List of Burials'
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Argyll and the Isles’ Secrets Collection: St Munns and the Argyll Mausoleum, published by on 28 April 2013 (online), access date 10 April 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 'Effort to save Campbell mausoleum': Laura Maxwell on BBC Scotland News, 6 January 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 'Argyll Mausoleum- Resting Place of the Campbells': Clan Campbell Society of New Zealand, Auckland
  8. Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Graphic and Accurate Description of Every Place in Scotland, Frances Hindes Groome (1901), p. 445
  9. RCAHMS (1992) Argyll. An Inventory of the Monuments, Vol. 7, Mid Argyll and Cowal, Mediæval and later monuments.