Kilmodan Carved Stones

The old burial enclosure, which is thought to have belonged to the Campbells of Auchenbreck, was adapted in 1974 as lapidarium to hold a number of carved stones, on the initiative of Dorothy N. Marshall of the Island of Bute and by Rona Barr of Colintraive.  It is in the guardianship of the Secretary of State of Scotland.

St. Modan, to whom the adjacent church is dedicated, was an early Celtic saint who lived about the time of St. Columba.  His original chapel is said to have been on the hilside to the East of the present church, but the side has so far not been allocated.

Kilmodan graveyard is especially noteworthy for its carved stones, a selection of which has placed within the enclosure for their protection..

Nr 1  – Head of a medieval cross, reputedly the old cross of Garvie.

Nrs 2 to 4 – Graveslabs made in the 14th and 15th centuries by a school of carvers in the Loch Awe region.  These carvers journeyed from place to place throughout Cowal, Mid Argyll and Lorn, as their services were required, producing efficies, flat graveslabs and freestanding crosses and using whatever suitable stone lay readily to hand.

The decorative motifs that they employed were evidently taken from standard pattern-books and include miniature figures of men in armour (nr 2 and nr 9) and priests (nr 10); both real and mythical creatures such as the stag (nr 9) and the unicorn (nr 6); swords (nrs 4, 7 and 8); interlacing (nrs 6 and 7); and shears and caskets (nr 4).

Unfortunately, the Loch Awe graveslabs are never inscribed, so that we do not know the names of the persons commemorated, but nr 6, the finest carving of the entire Loch Awe school, presumably marked the grave of a blacksmith since it bears a representation of a pair of tongs, while the priest on nr 10 signifies that it is the memorial of a cleric.

Nr 5 – Graveslab of late 15th century date.  On either side of the figure of a woman telling her beads is the partly obliterated inscription: HIC IACET [          ]  IOHANNIS (Here lies  [        ] daughter of John).

Nr 11 – Graveslab of Donald McCloy who was minister of Kilmodan from 1609 until 1636.