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Arran of the Bens, The Glens and the Brave
Chapter IV. Arran's Ancient Chapels

Most interesting of the old churches of Arran is the little chapel of St. Bride at Lam-lash, where rest the remains of many generations of Arran people. In old times, possibly before the use of Kilbride graveyard, the burial-ground on the Holy Island was also popular as a burying-place.


In 1357 the churches of Kilbride and Kilmory were given by the lord of Arran, Sir John Menteith, to the monks of Kilmory, with their chapels. The charter of King David II., confirming the gift, is of some interest. It reads as followsó"To all the children of the blessed Mother Church now living, or yet to be born, who may see or hear these present writings, read:óJohn of Menteith, lord of Arran and of Knapdale. Health in the Lord for ever. Know that I for the good of my soul, and that of Katherine my late wife, and for the good of the souls of our ancestors and successors, have given, granted, and by this present charter of mine, confirmed to God and the blessed Virgin Mary, to good Wynnyn and to the monastery of Kylwynne in Conyngham, to the abbots and monks there worshipping God, and to those who will worship him there for ever, the right of presentation and patronage of the churches of St. Mary and St. Bride in the island of Arran, with their chapels, and with all other properties which to the said churches, with their chapels and lands, by right belong, to be held and possessed by the said monastery and monks for ever, with all rights belonging to them in fee-simple, and perpetual alms."

In 1452 James II. gave the crown lands of Kilbride and Kilmory, which yielded an annual rent of £56, 18s. 8d., to the Canons of Glasgow for a sum of eight hundred marks which had been lent by them to the King. In 1540 the lands had again come into the possession of the crown, and Kilbride was then granted to Sir James Hamilton with the Earldom of Arran. Innes says the church stood originally on the north-west shore of Lamlash bay, on the spot marked in Blaeu's map "Marknaheglish." There are a few sculptured stones of interest in the graveyard, but many more have been destroyed. The most interesting and important was the ancient cross, which for many years lay on the family grave of the late Mr. John Mac-Bride, who formerly farmed the Holy Island. On the removal of the stones from the burial-ground there he brought it to Kilbride. It has been recently removed to the front of the parish church at Lamlash. Stones of this type were often erected in graveyards where no church stood, to mark the sacred character of the place.


Innes and the New Statistical Account state that the old church of Kilmory stood on the farm of Bennicarigan. The foundation stone showed a building of nineteen feet by ten feet, and around it were some ancient gravestones. The graveyard is still in use.

The church was granted to the monks of Kilwinning in 1357, at which time Sir Bean not "Saint Bean," as has been stated ("Sir" was the ordinary title of a priest), was Rector. Kilmory is supposed to have passed to the Hamiltons in 1503.

The present church was built in 1785. Kilmory Well was at one time famous on account of its supposed miraculous healing properties.


The old chapel or cell of St. Molios stood in the centre of the present graveyard, on the spot now railed in as a grave by the Thomson family. The famous sculptured figure, always supposed to represent St. Molios, stood upon this spot. Mr. Charles Mac Bride of Shedag, who tested the place with a spade some time ago, "came upon stone and lime," as he cautiously puts it. This was probably part of the foundation of the old chapel of the saint. The sculptured stone has lately been built into the wall of the neighbouring modern church of St. Molios. It represents an abbot with his pastoral staff, holding a chalice in his hands.

The hamlet or clachan of St. Molios, which grew up round his cell, stood on the site of the now dismantled chapel of Kilmichael close by. The position of the old graveyard and ruined church at the entrance to the glen, with the burn in the foreground, is one of the most picturesque and truly old-world sights in Arran.


Of Sannox Chapel there is no vestige left. At the entrance of the beautifully situated graveyard the figure of an ecclesiastic has been built for safety into the stone dike. It is supposed to represent the saint to whom the chapel was dedicated. Even his name is not quite certain, but the place is supposed to have been dedicated to St. Michael, like so many churches in the West Highlands. In the graveyard were buried the remains of Edwin R. Rose, the young English tourist who was so cruelly murdered by a stranger named Laurie, on Goatfell, in July 1889. A rough boulder-stone covers his grave.


There was once a chapel in Glen Ashdale, in size about ten feet by twelve. Both chapel and burial-ground are now almost indistinguishable, like that in Glen Cloy. There were also chapels, as the names suggest, at Kilbride Bennan, at Kilpatrick, at Balnacula (St. Eoin's), at Auchengallon, at Lochranza (St. Bride's), and at Kildonan.

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