The Argyll Mausoleum is one of Scotland's undiscovered historical jewels right on the doorstep of the Cowal Community. It stands connected to, but separate from, the church in Kilmun, Argyll and is the burial place for the Dukes and Earls of Argyll, Chiefs of the Clan Campbell, from the 14th century until 1949. Originally owned by the Argyll family, it is now owned by Argyll & Bute Council. The building is currently being restored; Argyll Mausoleum Limited is the charitable community led company set up to take the lead on this project.
An undiscovered historical jewel right on the doorstep of the Cowal Community
The tradition of burying the Chiefs of the Campbell clan at Kilmun began, so the legend goes, with the untimely death in the lowlands of Celestine, the son of the Sir Duncan Campbell - "The Black Knight of Loch Awe" - an early leader of the Clan Campbell. In 1442, Sir Duncan, the first Lord Campbell, had endowed a collegiate church on the site. Sir Duncan apparently chose to bury his son at Kilmun. As was common in those times with burials of important people, the body would have been buried beneath the aisle of the church. Sir Duncan and his wife Marjory (great, great grand-daughter of Robert the Bruce) were subsequently also buried in the church with their effigies above the tombs.
From then on, the tradition continued that many of the Dukes of Argyll and their families were buried beneath the aisles of Kilmun church. In 1660, a separate private chapel attached to the church was built for the Argyll tombs. In 1794, the private chapel was demolished and the separate Mausoleum was constructed in its place, with some of the more important remains being moved from the private chapel into the Mausoleum. These included the effigies of Sir Duncan Campbell and his wife.
Associated with the history of Scotland for thousands of years
The present larger church was built in 1841, and two of the walls of the Mausoleum now are integrated with the church. 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 that were found inside the Mausoleum. The last burial in the Mausoleum, in 1949, was of the 10th Duke of Argyll.