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Press Release September 2012

£1M funding package for historic mausoleum

A million pound funding package has been awarded to help restore a historic mausoleum in Kilmun. Argyll Mausoleum, built around 1790, stands on one of the most significant heritage sites in Argyll. Within the Mausoleum and under the adjacent church are the burial places of many of the Earls and Dukes of Argyll from at least 1455 until 1949. Since 1890, the condition of the building has deteriorated leaving a substantial risk to both the building and its unique artefacts. Legal ownership of the building has been questioned for over 90 years but now Argyll & Bute Council has formally taken on the ownership and has leased it to Argyll Mausoleum Ltd, a charitable company who are taking on the restoration project.

Welcoming the announcement, Dinah McDonald, Chair of Argyll Mausoleum Ltd said:  “We’re thrilled that, after years of campaigning, the Mausoleum has been given the recognition it deserves. We would like to thank everyone for their support and contributions. The funding will go towards vital restoration of the building and artefacts. We also want to build new visitor facilities within the adjacent Church of Scotland and open the Mausoleum up to the community, schools and visitors”.

Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll & Bute, said: “This is a tremendous achievement. In difficult times, Argyll Mausoleum Ltd, a community group, has secured the future of one of one of the most important local historic monuments which will now attract many more visitors and much more interest. I look forward to visiting the Mausoleum during and after its restoration.”   

Funding of £310,000 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and over £200,000 has been committed from each of Historic Scotland and Argyll & the Islands Leader. Argyll & Bute Council will fund £100,000 and over £70,000 will come from Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority. The rest of the funding package has been made up from the Church of Scotland, Argyll Estates, contributions from Shanks Argyll and Bute Ltd / Argyll and Bute Council made through the Landfill Communities Fund, together with contributions from local businesses and local fund raising.

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, added: “This little-known gem has a fascinating history associated with it and is held dear in the hearts of the local community. HLF is delighted to help turn its fortunes around so that it can be enjoyed by many more people and kept safe for future generations.”

Sheila Mclean, Argyll and the Islands LEADER: “The level of community support for this project is inspiring and it is envisaged that it will bring significant economic benefit to the area.”

Fiona Logan, CEO of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority:  “We’re happy to be able to help Argyll Mausoleum Ltd restore this important building. It’s steeped in history and ancient folklore and we hope the Mausoleum will fascinate visitors to the National Park and encourage schools to learn more about their local history.”

The current Mausoleum replaces an earlier private chapel built around 1660. It was last renovated in 1890 by the then Marquis of Lorne who installed the cast iron dome. Local belief is that there is a curse on the building which prevents anyone who isn’t a member of the Argyll family entering its doors.

Work is due to start on the restoration in the first part of 2013.


Supporting quotes:

Argyll & Bute Council: Argyll and Bute Council’s Lead Councillor for Culture, Louise Glen-Lee, said: “We are delighted to be able to support the restoration of Argyll Mausoleum, both in terms of securing ownership and providing funding.  There is a committed group of people behind this community venture who have worked extremely hard to save this vital piece of local history, and their efforts have been rewarded.  Argyll Mausoleum has considerable historical significance and will provide an amazing learning resource for young people, as well as a fascinating heritage attraction for visitors.”

Historic Scotland: Martin Fairley, Historic Scotland's Head of Investment and Corporate Finance Policy said: "It is good news to see that this historic building will be repaired and will also be of use to the local community."

Local Councillor Bruce Marshall, who was instrumental in the decision to ask Benmore & Kilmun CDT to take over the project in 2008, said: “I am delighted that Argyll Mausoleum Ltd have at last, after much hard work, gained the necessary funding to take forward this exciting project which I anticipate will put Kilmun on the tourist map and let a wider audience learn of the enormous historical past relating to this village on the Holy Loch. Well done the Trust Directors who have put what seems like a life’s work into bringing this project to near fruition. I also must thank our local politicians and the National Park for their support and also the commitment from Argyll & Bute Council.”

Notes to editors

1. Argyll Mausoleum Ltd is a charitable company limited by guarantee which has been set up by the Benmore & Kilmun Community Development Trust, with involvement of the Church of Scotland, Argyll & Bute Council, Argyll Estates and advice and support from Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.    

2. Archaeological and historical research has indicated settlement may date back to 3,500BC. Religious aspects of the site are expected to be traced back to the 6th century and have links to both the early Celtic church and to the Viking period.

3. The commitment of the various funding bodies to the renovation project has permitted the formal signing of all the legal formalities to establish that the Mausoleum is owned on behalf of the public by Argyll & Bute Council. This ends a prolonged legal dispute that can trace its roots back to 1925.

4. The project to restore the Argyll Mausoleum has extensive community support as was demonstrated by the fact that the project featured as one of the top wishes in the 2008 Community Action Plan, which was developed by the Benmore & Kilmun Community Development Trust, with support from the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 30,000 projects, allocating £4.7billion across the UK. Website:

About the Landfill Communities Fund

The Landfill Communities Fund enables Landfill Site Operators to divert a proportion of their Landfill Tax bill towards funding environmental and heritage projects in an area containing landfill sites. In Argyll and Bute, it has already funded bird hides, beach tidy ups, sports hall improvements, Bute environmental improvements, Lochgoilhead village improvements, etc.

For further information, images and interviews please contact:
David McKenzie, Secretary / Director, Argyll Mausoleum Ltd
07850 676574 /


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