By Dr Clare Ellis, Argyll Archaeology
Last week we were back at Kilbride church to carry out the archaeological excavation around the base of the west gable door before the start of the consolidation works.
The trenches on the interior and exterior of the west gable proved to be very informative. The rubble which had built up against the door concealed a drystone blocking wall which survived to over 0.70m in height. This wall represents the last phase of construction and was probably built so that the church could be used to house stock (possible cattle and or sheep) and therefore almost certainly occurred after the church was partially demolished in 1876.
It also became clear that the west gable door was not part of the original design of the church. The lower stone work of the west gable wall had been broken through and the stone removed to create a new aperture at ground level. The upper portion of the door appears to have been part of an original window, the uppermost section of which was blocked up above the new door lintel and which is now in a very poor state of repair. A line of mortared stone which stick out very slightly from the original wall and which are visible in the exterior elevation marks the base of the new doorway and these stones are at the same level as the original interior cobbled floor of the church.
The new west gable door is likely to have been part of the alteration carried out in 1744 when it is recorded that the windows of the church were enlarged and the door in the southern wall blocked up.
At least four grave slabs had been laid in an east/west orientation against the exterior wall of the west gable. However, these grave slabs are very unlikely to mark the position of any known burials as they sit above a thick and loose deposit of broken roof slate and soil and which is likely to resulted from the partial demolition of the church in 1876.
Finds included an ornate coffin handle, a single sherd of 19th century pottery, a few nails and a 50p piece dating to 2003!