By Liam Griffin
The exploratory dig at the western doorway of the church has begun The archaeologists, led by Dr Clare Ellis of Argyll Archaeology, moved onto site this morning. They have begun by excavating a heap of fallen rubble, overgrown with turf and vegetation, which has blocked the door to the entrance sited in the west gable for decades, probably for much longer.
The investigation is a requirement by the enforcing authority, Historic Environment Scotland (HES), as a precursor to the stonemasons carrying out urgently required stabilisation works to the western gable. Archaeologist Clare has already made some interesting discoveries.
A drystane wall, a metre or so high, has been installed across the doorway. Constructed in a rough and ready manner, Clare is of the opinion that the wall was erected to fence cattle in or out, as it is known that the kirk grounds were grazed by cattle when the site was de-sanctified in the mid 1800’s.
Clare’s careful excavation also located ironwork, which is possibly part of the door lock of the 1707 prayer house. Other finds include a shard of decorative plasterwork. On the outside wall, beneath the soil and turf overburden, careful trowelling has uncovered an intriguing flat stone. It appears there are absolutely no carving or lettering on the stone, so it may have been recycled from an earlier medieval grave, and turned upside down to act as a “door step.”
HES regulation requires us to leave it exactly as we found it, report its existence and await advice on how to proceed. …As part of her remit, the archaeologist will prepare a detailed report of her findings, these will be circulated to the charity, Friends of Kilbride and to HES. Eventually, they will become part of a permanent record in The National Archive.
Clare will return to site tomorrow and continue her excavation. Stonemason, Colin Rowan, awaits in the wings to begin the stabilistion of the gable end. For further information, please see our web site www.friendsofkilbride.scot or visit our facebook page. Of course, like other charities and organisations, our cash flow has been devastated by the virus.
If you’d like to donate a little (or a lot!) please click here or write to Friends of Kilbride C/o The Secretary Friends of Kilbride An Tobar Lerags Oban PA34 4SE Bonny Scotland.