Gilbert Markus

Gilbert Markus

ex-priest, professor of history, eminent academic, and the original Faith in Cowal pilgrim trails development officer

A most enjoyable visit to the Lamont Aisle this week, a dark vault beside the recently restored parish church of Kilfinan. The very obliging Sinclair Sutherland arranged for me to get access (the gate is usually locked) and to look at a fine collection of carved stones.  This was quite a treat.

August 2015 28 cropped

Standing on edge on the ground of the vault is a fine early medieval cross-slab (shown above, perhaps ninth-century in origin), ornately carved on one side with a tall ringed cross, its stem decorated with spirals and key-pattern, its central roundel filled with interlace, and with interlace and animal  figures in panels beside it.  On the other side another ringed cross, equal armed this time and made of interlace, has animals below it and below them interlaced roundels with dragon-like biting animals.

August 2015 34 cropped

Later medieval stones commemorating chiefs of the Lamont Clan are also to be found here.  In the thirteenth century, warrior imagery replaced the abstract and animal forms found on the earlier cross-slab.  Should we infer from this change that there has been a change in ideology?  Does it signify anything that the decorated cross has  been replaced by images of armed and armoured chiefs?  Perhaps it is merely a change in style and convention.  Perhaps it reveals something else.

August 2015 07  August 2015 10

Good News
This is an important collection of stones, and the good news is that moves are afoot to have the Lamont Aisle remodelled, the stones conserved and redisplayed, to create what will be an exciting visitor attraction.  Carefully mounted, well-lit  and protected from damp, mould and bird-droppings, they will shed light on the life  of the medieval church here in Cowal, and on the history of Clan Lamont.

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COVID-19

Social Distancing

Click the image for current guidance

Most of our sites are still open, and will make for a nice, socially distanced way to celebrate your faith, or to partake in a pilgrimage.

HOWEVER

They are small sites, with small parking areas. If there is already a car in the parking areas, THINK TWICE about visiting. Perhaps try a different location but don't stray too far from home (there are sites all over Cowal), and stay at least 2m/3ft away from other people at all times. Keep up to date with with current government guidelines.