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Argyll Mausoleum

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Argyll Mausoleum, Fox, 2010
Argyll Mausoleum

Argyll Mausoleum lies just to the east of Kilmun (St Munn's) Church, now one of three Shore Churches[1] on the north shore of the Holy Loch, about six miles due north of Dunoon. It is also known as Kilmun Mausoleum,

The mausoleum is often described as one of the least known but most significant historic buildings in Argyll, possibly even in Scotland. It has occupied the site since 1790, and until 1949 all the Dukes of Argyll and their families have been interred there. Prior to its construction, the Dukes were buried under the floor of the adjacent church floor, and it is probable that they were re-interred there, as it replaced the Dukes' earlier private chapel, which had been built there in 1600.[2]

Last restored around 1890, the work was overseen by the 9th Duke of Argyll, then Marquis of Lorne, who was responsible for the installation of the building's impressive cast iron dome.[3] However, by 2010, neglect and decay meant that both the both the building and artefacts contained within were both at considerable risk.

St Munn's Church from SW, Fox, 2010
St Munn's Church

The Mausoleum stands today next to Kilmun Church replacing an earlier chapel built in the 17th century. The origins of the Kilmun site remain a mystery but grave markers from the 13th century have been discovered and the tower of the church built in 1445 still stands.

The earliest recorded burial of a Campbell chief at Kilmun is that of Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochawe in 1455, although there are legends of earlier burials. Buried alongside him is his wife Marjorie, great, great granddaughter of Robert the Bruce. Burials of the chiefs of the Campbells continued in the church at Kilmun until the 17th century.

Around 1660, a separate private chapel attached to the church was built for the Argyll tombs. In 1794, the separate Mausoleum was constructed, with some of the more important remains being moved from the church into the Mausoleum. This included the effigies of Sir Duncan Campbell and Marjorie.

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 inside the Mausoleum. The last burial in the Mausoleum, in 1949, was of the 10th Duke of Argyll.
Source: Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.


In 2010, Argyll Mausoleum Ltd, a company limited by guarantee and set up by the Benmore & Kilmun Community Development Trust[4], and which involved the Church of Scotland, Argyll & Bute Council, Argyll Estates and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, received a first funding award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to proceed with an application for a grant of £240,000 towards the projected £750,000 cost of renovating the mausoleum. The grant allows up to two years for the submission of a fully detailed application to the HLF.[5]

Together with the renovation of the mausoleum and its artefacts, the plans include the creation of a visitor centre with provision for visits to the mausoleum from the local community, schools, and tourists. Further research into the archaeology and history of the site will also be included as it is believed to date back to the 6th century, and be connected to the early Celtic church and Viking times.

Dr Elizabeth Blackwell

Dr Elizabeth Blackwell died on the May 31, 1910, and her centenary was celebrated in 2010. Blackwell was the first female doctor in the western world and was buried in the churchyard at Kilmun, where her grave is marked by a simple Celtic cross. Although she had no direct connection with the area - having trained at the Geneva Medical College in New York, after which she returned to England - she spent the last six years of her life in Kilmun, where she enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of the area.


1 The Shore Churches Retrieved June 15, 2010.

2 Minister Risks Ancient Mausoleum Curse 18/09/2009 - Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Retrieved June 12, 2010.

3 Scottish Ironwork - Listing Details, Argyll Mausoleum Retrieved June 12, 2010.

4 Benmore and Kilmun Community Development Trust: The Argyll Mausoleum Project Retrieved June 15, 2010.

5 Ancient Mausoleum Receives First Funding Award - Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Retrieved June 11, 2010.

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