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NN095015 – Strachur Church is an understated and beautiful building in the heart of Strachur village. Raised on a mound within a circular enclosure, it sports a natural stone colour – much like Inverchaolain – but unlike Inverchaolain, the entrance is a modest doorway on the east flank of the church. Pilgrims visiting Strachur, a Church of Scotland property, will find the doors open during daylight hours, and a visitor book in the entrance way. Please do sign this book, as it lets the local parish know that their church is appreciated (and if you could mention the Faith in Cowal website, even better!).
Inside, there are large, narrow windows, allowing the light to stream into a, clearly well loved, chapel. Should you wish to offer prayers to the mysterious saint that this church, Kilmaglash, is dedicated to, then take a pew and allow this peaceful corner of Scotland to hear your prayers. Just be careful as you walk down the centre aisle; the full-size, marble gravestone of General John Campbell (American war of independence hero) lies just under the carpet, with an inscription requesting “that no heir or successor shall disturb this sacred repository”.
It is, however, the outside of the building that attracts most visitors to Strachur Church. Inlaid into the walls of the church are ancient carved gravestones, with tightly packed Celtic knots, crosses and figures adorning them. They were brought down from the original kirk yard in Succoth (on the hills above) in the 1780’s, and then used as part of the fabric of the church by a local architect, Archibald Fergusson, when it was remodeled in 1903.
A recent revival of the Dewar Manuscripts has led to speculation that at least some of these stones may have been salvaged from under Loch Fyne. A ship with artifacts plundered from Iona may have run aground and had to dump it’s contraband cargo. Local stories at the time make reference to such stones and crosses ‘miraculously’ floating ashore.
Kilmaglash Church is easy enough to find. If you’re coming from Kilmorie, follow the B8ooo north east until it joins the A815 at ///bedspread.dusty.circle, at which point you turn right, and then take the first left (at ///hired.campsites.tensions) and follow that road round to the right, heading east. The church will be right in front of you, and there is room to park a car at ///rationed.zealous.oxidation if you’re just popping in. If you plan to stay longer, you can find a small parking area to the south, near ///acoustics.tadpoles.tadpole, or another to the north of the church near ///escorting.spades.select. If this one is full, then there’s usually space opposite the community centre a little further down the road near ///pocketed.triads.origins.