By: Rob Wilkinson
They came, they saw …and luckily they didn’t conquer anything or indeed each other! Members of the Clan Campbell and Clan Lamont recently paid a visit to one of Scotland’s most historic churches but thankfully, given the gruesome and grisly history of rivalry between the two clans, not at the same time! Historic Kilmun, formerly St Munns Church on the bonny banks of Holy Loch, includes the Argyll Mausoleum which is the resting place for countless Clan Campbell chiefs, prominent Lamonts and Dukes of Argyll dating back hundreds of years. The venue has played a key role in Scottish history and is now owned by the community.
Sited on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll just an hour or so from Glasgow, Historic Kilmun was one of the key destinations for recent visits from the North American Clan Campbell Association and Clan Lamont Society. In early July 2022 over 40 members of Clan Campbell, hailing from all over the USA and Canada, were shown around Historic Kilmun by tour guides in three groups after being piped into the venue by Dunoon-based bagpiper Duncan MacLeod. “It was a fantastic experience to visit a place that covers so much Scottish history,” exclaimed Cari Campbell from Bakersfield, California “and all of the tour group enjoyed every moment in a venue that’s played a big part in the heritage of the Campbells. Some of those in our party had visited Scotland before but for many it was their first trip here and, no doubt, the first of many! Destinations like Historic Kilmun help us to embrace our Scottish roots.” The party then headed on to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Nairn before concluding their trip at the Inveraray Highland Games.
Two clans that effectively dominate the history of Argyll
Just three weeks later around 60 members of the Clan Lamont Society from right across the globe descended on Historic Kilmun for tours and talks that covered their close ties to the area and, of course, their longstanding rivalry with the Campbells. Welcomed to the church museum venue by piper Catherine Paton of Strachur, the party included Lamonts from Europe, Australia, the US as well as from across Scotland and England. The Kirkin o the Tartan service was led by the Rev Tom Elsby and was followed with a stirring rendition of Scots Wha Hae on the water organ by renowned organist Philip Norris. Historic Kilmun’s Dinah McDonald welcomed the group to the church and spoke about the historic rivalries between the Campbells and Lamonts. Bob Reid, who has researched the history of the Lamont Clan, also gave a brief historical presentation of the Lamont’s close ties to Cowal. The tour party was then shown around by the enthusiastic guides and sat in the sun to eat soup, sandwiches and a wide selection of home-made cakes.
The immediate past president of the Clan Lamont Society John Lamont-Black commented: “Our heartfelt thanks from the Clan Lamont Society for the informative visit to Kilmun. Thank you for the time and enthusiasm shown by your group in sharing with us Historic Kilmun and the Campbell mausoleum. You gave us a vivid insight into the complex history of the two clans in Cowal”. Dinah MacDonald of Historic Kilmun exclaimed: “It was fantastic to welcome representatives of two clans that effectively dominate the history of Argyll and define this spectacular part of the world. We hope all went away with happy memories!”
Whilst the Lamonts and the Campbells might look back on bitter and violent feuds, it’s clear that contemporary generations are far more interested in learning from the past with Historic Kilmun providing a lesson or two!
Historic Kilmun is located in the village of Kilmun, Argyll, Scotland on the shores of the Holy Loch. For details see: www.historickilmun.org