Historic Kilbride ready for next phase

Volunteers, including Steve Barlow and Andy Buntin, helped move nearly 40 tonnes of rubble and spread 5 tonnes of gravel to protect the site during the nine day dig at Kilbride. Photograph: Imagine Alba

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Volunteers at Historic Kilbride have shovelled five tonnes of pea gravel to protect an ancient floor.

Last week, archaeologists finished work at Kilbride Chapel in Lerags Glen, ready for the restoration project’s next phase to begin.

As part of the work, the Argyll Archaeology team uncovered a stairway and a hearth in the 18th-century session house.

Exciting finds also included a fine piece of sandstone carved with dog-tooth decoration, which would have probably edged the door of the once 13th-century church at Kilbride.

Dr Clare Ellis of Argyll Archaeology with an architectural fragment featuring a dogtooth motif from the 13th-century church that was excavated during the dig.
Photograph: Imagine Alba
Archaeologists exposed the 18th-century session house, along with portions of the staircase and a hearth that was installed in the 1940s or 1950s, possibly for use by farmers
Photograph: Imagine Alba
Dr Clare Ellis and Hilary McLauchlan of Argyll Archaeology, along with volunteer and Friends of Kilbride chairman, Seymour Adams, helped to move 22.5 cubic metres of rubble and worked on removing an invasive sycamore root in the walls.
Photograph: Imagine Alba

Six foot deep rubble, mainly large sandstone blocks and boulders and other fallen stone, were removed with the help of volunteers.

With a protective layer of gravel now protecting the session house floor, it is now ready for stonemason Michael Hogg to get to work on stabilising the walls around it. The root bore from a large sycamore felled 10 years ago also needs removing to take away the risk of falling masonry so the buildings can be safe to enter again.

Seymour Adams, chairman of Friends of Kilbride, said: ‘We have now done all the archaeology we needed to do. We have cleared out six foot deep rubble. Inside there must have been about 40 tonnes of rock that we have taken out and piled up.

‘We found some significant carved sandstone blocks from the medieval chapel. Although we have known from written histories that it existed, this is the first time we have found physical proof that it existed.’

Last month the Kirk was awarded £68,500 from Historic Environment Scotland’s (HES) Covid Recovery Fund, the funding means Friends of Kilbride can carry out that work as part of phase three of its restoration and renovation of the Kirk and Session House.

The west gable wall and  west door has already been made safe thanks to generous grants from the Caraig Gael Wind Farm Community Trust and the Clan MacDougall Society of North America.

‘We would like to have a big grand opening when we are allowed. At the moment it looks very much like a building site but it will be very different when we open up to the public again,’ added Mr Seymour.

For further information visit: www.friendsofkilbride.scot