Exciting Archaeology at Kilmun
One of the central sites of the Cowal Faith Tourism/Pilgrimage experience is Kilmun – and this for all kinds of reasons. It is dedicated to a saint with strong Argyll connections; it was a very important church in the late Middle Ages, served by a college of clergy; it has a carved stone cross which appears to be Early Medieval in date; and there are medieval records of the saint’s bachall or crosier – his staff of office – being kept as a relic by a hereditary keeper or deòradh (dewar).
A recent archaeological survey of the area round the ninteenth-century church and the fifteenth-century tower has raised a new and exciting piece of evidence. The project included a resistivity survey (a scanning of the ground for changes in the electrical conductivity/resistance of the subsoil, which is a good indicator of features located up to half a metre under ground). This is the result:
The fascinating question raised by this survey relates to what looks like a circular or sub-circular feature running round the church. It is not perfectly continuous, but this may be because it has itself been disturbed by grave-digging and so on. But it looks very like an early Christian enclosure – they were often round or D-shaped rather than square in plan. If it is a curvilinear enclosure, as the survey suggests it may be, it is certainly earlier than the fifteenth-century tower, as it runs right underneath it.