Connected to, but separate from, St Munn’s church in Kilmun stands the Argyll Mausoleum – the burial place for the Earls and Dukes 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 had its last major renovation around 1890 and is in urgent need of restoration and repair; in 2007, the Council asked the local Benmore & Kilmun Community Development Trust if they would be prepared to take the lead on this project. This was agreed, and Argyll Mausoleum Limited (AML) was formed as a charitable company limited by guarantee to carry out the task.
Argyll Mausoleum Limited is charged by Argyll & Bute Council, the owners of the Mausoleum, to restore and conserve the building and artefacts and to open it to the public in a fitting and sensitive manner, including the construction of a visitor facility. Argyll Mausoleum Ltd will lease the building for 30 years from Argyll and Bute Council and raise the necessary funds to achieve these objectives.
Argyll Mausoleum Limited is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. Board Directors and advisors include:
Benmore & Kilmun Community Development Trust
Church of Scotland
Argyll & Bute Council
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
In March 2010, Argyll Mausoleum Limited was awarded first round development funds by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The project was also informed that it could be eligible for substantial additional funding from Historic Scotland, LEADER, Argyll & Bute Council, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, Argyll Estates, the Church of Scotland and others. The first round funding from HLF permitted the company to proceed to appoint appropriately qualified architects as professional advisors to the project. Under the funding guidelines laid down by HLF, the principal role of the professional advisers at this stage is to assist in preparing all necessary plans, permission and other documentation in order to apply for the second round funding from HLF and to ensure that all additional activities are performed to be formally awarded the funds from other sources. First round funding also allowed the Board to select a company to conserve and restore all the artefacts that are contained in the Mausoleum.
In August 2010, after an open tendering process, Nic Boyes Stone Conservation (NBSC) was selected by the Board to conserve and restore the Mausoleum artefacts. NBSC removed the artefacts from the Mausoleum to safe storage in November 2010 to prevent any further damage due to the conditions in the Mausoleum. Actual restoration and conservation of the artefacts has now been completed and the artefacts will be returned to the site once the construction work is finished.
In January 2011, after an open tender process, the Board of AML appointed Icosis Architects / Stephen Newsom Architect as the professional advisors to the project.
By September 2012, a full funding package had been committed amounting to over £1.0M. £310,000 was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and over £200,000 was committed from each of Historic Scotland and Argyll & the Islands Leader. Argyll & Bute Council agreed to fund £100,000 and over £70,000 will come from Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority. The rest of the funding package has been made up from the Church of Scotland, Argyll Estates, contributions from Shanks Argyll and Bute Ltd / Argyll and Bute Council made through the Landfill Communities Fund, together with contributions from local businesses and local fund raising.
With this funding committed, open tendering processes were put in place to appoint main contractors for the project and also to appoint a professional interpretation consultant. In April 2013, W H Kirkwood Ltd of Greenock were appointed as main contractors for the project. In May 2013, Aaaron Lawton Associates of Edinburgh were appointed as interpretation consultants.
Work commenced on the site in June 2013. The visitor centre opened in Spring 2014 and the Mausoleum will be opened in winter 2014.
The restoration of the Mausoleum, the conservation of the artefacts and the opening of a visitor facility comprise phase 1 of a 5 phase project that AML hopes to achieve over the next few years. Subsequent phases are:
- Restoration / opening to visitors of the 15th century tower that once formed part of the 1441 collegiate church
- Archaeolgical investigations of the accessible parts of the site
- Investigation / restoration of the 19th century Douglas Mausoleum
- Investigation / restoration of the ancient part of the graveyard