Historic Kilmun holds AGM with guest speaker

Written on 18 October 2022

Historic Kilmun will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 1st November from 7pm and will include a guest speaker presentation from architect Michael Davidson on proposed improvements and adaptions to the historic venue.

Michael explained: “We will be holding a community conversation about the improvement and adaptation of the building to meet the needs of its users and look forward to hearing the views of those who will be using the building on how it can best be adapted in order to serve the wider community.”

Dinah McDonald of Historic Kilmun commented: “We are delighted to welcome back Michael Davidson, our main contact at Icosis, the firm of architects who designed the restoration of the church and Argyll Mausoleum in 2012.

“The building is already being used by many and varied groups of people. We were delighted to welcome both the Lamont and the Campbell clans during their visits to Cowal in July and we host a number of varied music events as well as running a gift shop and second-hand book stall.

“What we can achieve and who we can welcome to the building is limited by several factors, not least that we have only one accessible toilet. How can we best adapt the interior of
this amazing building whilst holding fast to its wonderful sense of serenity and peace.

“All are welcome to join in with the conversation and refreshments will be available,” added Dinah.

Polish doctors visit grave of medical pioneer

Written on 11 October 2022

Historic Kilmun recently played host to a party of doctors from Poland keen to find out more about the 19th century medical pioneer and changemaker Elizabeth Blackwell who is buried next to the church.

The 21 strong group, who were on a five-day tour of Scotland’s medical landmarks, hailed from the western Polish city of Leszno.

Trip organiser Anna Legutko commented: “We wanted to explore the places related to the history of medicine, trace Polish roots and see some nature. We visited the Polish Medical School and Surgeon’s Hall Museum in Edinburgh and other landmarks.

“Elizabeth Blackwell was an incredible woman who changed medicine forever by breaking down barriers to become one of the first female doctors in both Europe and the United States as well as being a social activist. Her story is an inspiration to us all and we enjoyed our visit to Historic Kilmun immensely,” added Anna.

Dinah McDonald of Historic Kilmun added: “It was a great pleasure to welcome our Polish friends who learnt all about the history of this famous venue and the remarkable lady that was Elizabeth Blackwell.”

Find out all about Elizabeth Blackwell here

Clan Lamont descend on Historic Kilmun

Written on 30 August 2022

Around 60 members of the Clan Lamont from across the globe were treated to a Scottish history lesson during a recent visit to Historic Kilmun in east Cowal.

Welcomed to the church museum venue by a piper, the party included Lamonts from Europe, Australia, the US as well as from across Scotland and England.

The Kirkin o the Tartan service was led by the Rev Tom Elsby and was followed with a stirring rendition of Scots Wha Hae on the water organ by renowned organist Philip Norris.

Historic Kilmun’s Dinah McDonald welcomed the group to the church and spoke about the historic rivalries between the Campbells and Lamonts. Bob Reid, who has researched the history of the Lamont Clan, also gave a brief historical presentation of the Lamont’s close ties to Cowal.

The tour party was then shown around by the enthusiastic guides and sat in the sun to eat soup, sandwiches and a wide selection of homemade cakes.

The immediate past president of the Clan Lamont Society John Lamont Black commented: “Our heartfelt thanks from the Clan Lamont Society for the informative visit to Kilmun. Thank you for the time and enthusiasm shown by your group in sharing with us Historic Kilmun and the Campbell mausoleum.

“You gave us a vivid insight into the complex history of the two clans in Cowal,” added John.

Historic Kilmun opens up in September

Written on 30 August 2022

Historic Kilmun will be opening its doors free of charge to the public for two weekends in September as part of the Doors Open Days scheme (3rd & 4th) and the Cowal Open Studios weekend (23rd & 24th).

Doors Open Days is Scotland’s largest free festival that celebrates heritage and the built environment.  It offers free access to over a thousand venues across the country each September.

The Cowal Open Studios open weekend takes place from Friday 23rd to Monday 26th and will see over 50 artists from across the area opening up their studios to the public as well as displaying and showcasing their works at the Burgh Hall in Dunoon and Historic Kilmun.

Dinah McDonald of Historic Kilmun commented: “We’re delighted to be taking part in the Doors Open Days 2022 initiative and, three weeks later, transforming this magnificent venue into an art gallery so that the public can view and purchase the various types of creativity produced by artists across Cowal as well as experiencing and learning about the rich and vibrant history associated with this venue.

“It will also be an opportunity for visitors to find out all about the ECHO Trails project that highlights the walks and landmarks around east Cowal,” added Dinah.

Jenny Phillips, vice chair of Cowal Open Studios, added: “The open weekend is now in its’ 15th year and is always a great opportunity for people to visit artists in their natural habitat and view artworks through our displays at the Burgh Hall and Historic Kilmun. They represent two amazing spaces in which to highlight the talented artists we have in this inspiring part of the world.”

For more details please visit www.historickilmun.org and www.cowalopenstudios.co.uk.

Natalie Sedgewick of Lapwing Designs, Historic Kilmun guide Iain MacNaughton and Moira Ferguson of Holy Loch Pottery
Natalie Sedgewick of Lapwing Designs, Historic Kilmun guide Iain MacNaughton and Moira Ferguson of Holy Loch Pottery

North American Clan Campbell group visits Historic Kilmun

Written on 15 July 2022

Over 40 members of the Clan Campbell Society of North America visited Cowal recently as part of a two week tour of Scotland.

Hailing from all over the USA and Canada, the group visited the Strachur Smithy and the Whistlefield Inn before being shown around Historic Kilmun by the venue’s volunteer tour guides in three groups.

“It’s been a fantastic experience to visit a place that covers so much Scottish history,” exclaimed Cari Campbell from Bakersfield, California “and all of the tour group are enjoying every moment in our ancestral homeland.

“Some have visited Scotland before but for many it’s their first trip here and, no doubt, the first of many!” added Cari.

The party, who were piped into the church by Dunoon-based Duncan Macleod, will head on to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Nairn before concluding their trip at the forthcoming Inveraray Highland Games.

For more details visit www.historickilmun.org and www.ccsna.org.

East Cowal Heritage Trail

Written on 23 July 2020

The East Cowal Heritage Outdoors (ECHO) Trail project is as much about a vehicle for ongoing change to Cowal and Dunoon, as it is about the implementation of a way-marked route. The project has been brewing for over three years, beginning with its identification as a project that could take on many of the shared challenges and opportunities for East Cowal’s communities. In 2018, Benmore and Kilmun Community Development Trust commissioned a feasibility study which identified community support, revealed potential through the revitalisation of existing routes, and identified a range of potential outcomes for communities throughout the area.

At its very core, the project aims to unlock the potential for the area’s heritage through the backbone of a new trail connecting people, places and sites of significance. It is outcomes-focused, with activities reflective of the area’s profile, and opportunities to improve people’s lives, communities and the local economy. As well as its past, it looks to the area’s future by engaging with young people to develop skills, share insights, encourage new ideas, and enhance the area as a place to stay, visit and work.

It aims to connect existing outdoors heritage-inspired initiatives which are being planned or delivered throughout the area. This means bringing together these initiatives to distil skills, talent and collective insight. This is more than a mapping exercise which aims to promote and enhance participation in local initiatives; it aims to connect people, raise awareness and generate effective ways to collaborate.

Equally so, it also aims to be a neatly defined project and pragmatic project. It will enhance access to the heritage landscape, encourage people to be physically active, promote existing visitor attractions, increase visitor numbers and develop the local economy. It will achieve this through a phased approach establishing community ownership throughout its development, delivery and evaluation. However, it doesn’t aim to extend visitor numbers beyond a “critical mass” which strains infrastructure and risks the landscape. Instead, it aims to establish ongoing outcomes-inspired activities for participants and provide healthy, peaceful experiences for visitors to the area.

It also presents the opportunity of becoming “more than a trail”, through the realisation of the difference the heritage landscape can make to people’s lives. This can range from ongoing outdoor learning initiatives in collaboration with schools, training, employment and physically healthy activity through engagement with fitness/leisure providers.


The East Cowal Heritage Outdoors (ECHO) project aims to promote engagement with the area’s significant heritage through the provision of healthy, enriching and memorable activities as part of a heritage trail covering 40 miles. These activities will deliver a range of socio-economic outcomes for Cowal and Dunoon including community cohesion, health and wellbeing and supporting the local economy. These outcomes will be achieved through a collaborative approach with existing community-led projects, visitor attractions and charities in operation throughout the area.

Find out more here