Lochgoilhead and Kilmorich Parish Church is a harled, skew-gabled, T-plan building with a session house extension to the S, standing within an L-plan graveyard situated at the head of Loch Goil.The church is 18th century in appearance, but is in fact a multi-phase building with a mediaeval core concealed by 18th and 19th century additions and alterations. This building is a little altered multi-phase church with significant pre-Reformation and Renaissance monuments.
Documentary evidence (Papal documents of 1379 and 1405) confirm that the church was in existence by the late 14th century. However, the unusual dedication to The Three Holy Brethren, thought to be 6th century Irish saints, suggests that there may have been a church on the site for several centuries before the first written records of it began. The longitudinal plan of the 14th century church is retained in the E and W aisles; a significant amount of the fabric of these aisle walls is believed to be mediaeval. The N aisle was added in the 18th century, forming the T-plan, and the session house, with a birdcage bellcote surmounting the gable, was added to the S (behind the central pulpit) in 1832. It is likely that the large windows in the W and E aisles, including the 2 lancet-glazed round-headed windows flanking the session house on the S elevation, were formed or remodelled at this time (RCAHMS, Inventory, p193). In 1894-5, a small N porch was added by Campbell Douglas; this was slightly extended to form toilet facilities in the late 20th century.
The interior of the church retains the 18th century T-plan, focussing on the pulpit situated at the centre of the S wall (with the session house situated behind (the panelled timber pulpit was brought from Kiltearn Church, Ross and Cromarty, in 1955, and is thought to date from 1791) At the W end is the early 19th century Drimsynie Loft, a gallery supported on 2 timber columns. The E arm of the church is the location of the chancel of the mediaeval chancel. In the N wall of the former chancel is a tomb-recess, probably of 16th century date. It is round-arched with two carved slabs (not believed to have been originally designed for this location, but of 16th century date) forming a tomb-chest; above the arch is a cornice with quatrefoil carvings, and three flat niches with rib-arched canopies and corbelled bases with shields, two of which bear Campbell arms. On the E wall of the former chancel is a large, early Renaissance mural monument which incorporates the blocked doorway of the former Ardkinglas burial aisle (demolished 1850 (Walker 2000, 387
. The monument is composed of an ashlar wall with doorway to centre and 2 pairs of distinctive attached columns with bulbous finials; above, a 2-tier pediment with scrolled edges and further columns and finials, all surrounding a central armorial panel with Latin inscription, translated as 'Here lies James Campbell of Ardkinglas, knight, who died..' The monument is not dated, possibly because it was built during the lifetime of the person it was intended to commemorate; it is thought that is mostly likely to have been Sir James Campbell, Comptroller of the Royal Hospital (1584-5), who died in 1592 (RCAHMS, Inventory, p196).
The coombed, timber boarded ceiling was installed in 1888, and the existing pews date from 1895. The font is a sandstone block with bevelled edges and central basin; it stands on a modern pedestal. Its origin and date are unknown.
Harled rubble; some droved ashlar margins; chamfered jambs and lintels to openings of N aisle and doorways of S wall. Timber sash and case windows with varying numbers of panes. Pitched roof; sandstone skews; cavetto skewputts (excluding session house). Coped ashlar ridge stack to session house; circular cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.
The L-plan graveyard contains a number of 18th and 19th century headstones, among which several have are carved with symbols of death, occupation or decorative devices. A truncated obelisk with strapwork detailing, topped by an urn, bears a long inscription to Colin Campbell of Drimsynie (d.1833).
BOUNDARY WALL, GATEPIERS AND GATES
The majority of the graveyard is bounded by a random rubble wall, which at points is incorporated into adjoining buildings. In the S wall is a gateway aligned with the centre of the church; it has circular rubble gatepiers topped by wrought iron Art Nouveau ogee cages; the gates are Art Nouveau style cast-iron. The E gateway has square gatepiers with cast-iron gates.
Statement of Special Interest
Ecclesiastical building in use as such.
The head of Loch Goil was historically a significant point on the route from Glasgow and the east to Inverary and the Western Isles. This made the church's prominent location at the head of the loch a natural choice for its founders, allowing it to serve large numbers of travellers as well as permanent parishoners.
Several of the monuments of Lochgoilhead Parish Church point to its strong connections with the Clan Campbell (later the Earls of Argyll), historically one of the most powerful Highland clans. The Campbells of Lochawe, and later the Campbells of Ardkinglas, owned the majority of land in the parish and had great local influence, right up to the 20th century.