Article from Castle Campbell from Historic Scotland magazine dated winter 2011
All the news, updates and events from Argyll Mausoleum Ltd
From Dinah McDonald, Chair
It is a great pleasure to welcome you to our first newsletter. It has been a long journey to get to this stage in the renovation of the Argyll Mausoleum, but we are now in the wonderful position of having the funding to repair the mausoleum, create a visitor facility and an exciting programme of community events. We are really pleased to have employed Fiona as our activity co-ordinator. Fiona, who I am sure you will all meet before too long will be taking the responsibility for putting the action into the plan we have for community and visitor activities. Do please let us know if you have any ideas of events that you feel we should be hosting.
We have also now appointed the person - Aaron Lawton - who will be designing the interpretation to help visitors to the mausoleum understand the wonderful heritage of the building and the surrounding area. We are really lucky to have been able to tempt Aaron, one of the top interpretation experts in Scotland, to work with us. We will be holding a community event in mid January when Aaron would like to meet those in the community with an interest in the heritage of the area. Together we will work out which of the many stories associated with the mausoleum, the church and the graveyard we will be trying to tell.
We hope to have two newsletters a year, as well as community up-date sessions to make sure those who are interested are able to be involved in this amazing project.
We are grateful to those of our advisers who have been so helpful in enabling us to get this far. Euan and Michael from our architects Icosis, Hannah from the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, Steve our conservation architect and Andy our finance adviser have all provided invaluable advice and amazing enthusiasm, especially when yet another source of funding proved unsuccessful. Eight years does feel a long time, but hopefully by April 2014 the Mausoleum will be open to the public.
Introducing … My name is Fiona Lochhead. I am delighted to introduce myself as the new Events Co-ordinator for Argyll Mausoleum. I have been in the post for a little over a month, and am inspired by the enthusiasm and passion from all those involved in the ambitious project that is Argyll Mausoleum. My job is to ensure the events and activities designed to promote this historic landmark go ahead – and I look forward to meeting as many of you as would like to be met, and hearing all your comments, suggestions, and ideas for taking our project forward. I hope you enjoy this newsletter, and have a very merry festive season!
A word from Icosis Architects By Michael Davidson
Alongside conservation architect Stephen Newsom, Icosis were appointed in 2011, following a competitive tender process, by Argyll Mausoleum Ltd, who are intent not only on saving and securing the long term future of this remarkable historic structure, but on making it accessible to the public. Allied to the careful conservation of the Mausoleum itself, the initial design brief proposed the construction of a visitor centre building. Following an extensive process of design development, a scheme has been established whereby interpretation material is delivered along the upgraded route between an orientation shelter in the lay-by and the Mausoleum. This is supplemented by additional accommodation within the adjacent St Munn’s Church, providing a low key and economically sustainable solution.
Since its inception in 2003, Icosis have aimed to produce high quality, individual projects for each of our clients, and the practice has a growing reputation for design quality and the innovative use of natural materials. We approach building projects from the start of all commissions with a view to making each development as sensitively designed, ecologically benign and energy efficient as possible. We advocate the use of natural & sustainable materials to all clients and aim to specify only locally sourced materials where this is possible and practical, whilst considering their embodied energy, particularly of the main construction elements. We believe that an environmentally aware approach on all projects has many benefits, in terms of reduced waste, lower cost-in-use, design for flexibility of use, and helps produce solutions that are economical and sustainable to both construct and maintain thereafter.
In order to achieve a building that sits sensitively within its particular environment, we consider the longevity of external materials, and generally favour those which require little or no maintenance, which tends to result in buildings which look good at the point of handover, and become more aesthetically pleasing over time as they weather into their environment. Having put in place the necessary statutory consents from the Planning and Listed Building Departments of the National Park Authority, the design team are now in the process of preparing detailed information in support of an application for building warrant and information for the tender of the contract for the conservation work which it is hoped will begin in the Spring of 2013. Sensitive to the delicate environment associated with an active place of worship and burial, the design team will continue to work closely with AML, the congregation of St Munn’s Church, the local community and many other interested groups to deliver the most suitable method of visitor introduction to this currently inaccessible heritage asset within rich historical environs.
Cast Iron Dome, the Great Exhibition, Water Ingress and a 30 Year Legal Battle by David McKenzie
One of the most noticeable features of the Argyll Mausoleum today is the massive cast iron dome that sits over the building, adjacent to St Munn's Church in Kilmun. The original roof on the Mausoleum when it was constructed in 1790 by the Duke of Hamilton was a pyramidal slated roof, with no windows. This had the effect that no daylight penetrated the building, except when the doors were open. When the Marquis of Lorne (subsequently the 9th Duke of Argyll) supervised his mother's funeral in 1878 at the Mausoleum, he described the interior as 'ghastly'. Perhaps that set in train the thought in his head to improve the roof and introduce some daylight; in the event, when he did design the renovation to the Mausoleum in the 1890s, the cast iron dome was the result. Why such a grandiose approach? Who can be sure, but the marquis was the son-in-law of Prince Albert, who had master-minded the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. The design of the dome is very similar to an exemplar, shown at the exhibition, which was constructed by the British Cast Iron industry to demonstrate how advanced they were in this material. We believe that the dome was manufactured at a foundry in Glasgow and transported to the site to be placed on top of the Mausoleum; the craftsmen's marks can still be seen on the inside of the roof. The decision to put such a weighty object on 4 walls that had not been built for this seems to have caused consternation to the company performing the renovation. Nevertheless, the project went ahead and the walls are still standing.
However, from the day that the roof was installed, it was never properly sealed to the walls and water (of which we have a fair amount in this area) has been penetrating ever since. This will be one of the challenges of the renovation work that is about to start. It appears that the water ingress was confined to the Mausoleum itself until around the 1970s. It then started to affect the adjacent church. The congregation naturally were concerned and, assuming that the Mausoleum was the property of the Argyll estates, wrote asking that the problem be addressed. The response was that, while sympathetic, Argyll Estates did not own the building, but that it had transferred to the ownership of the Council in the 1920s. A 30 year legal wrangle ensued, before the situation was finally resolved and the Council conceded ownership. Through the efforts of local councillor Bruce Marshall, the Benmore & Kilmun Community Development Trust were invited to take the lead on finding a solution to the renovation problem, and that marks the beginning of the current renovation project.
A word from our Interpreters I'm Aaron Lawton from Aaron Lawton Associates. We've just been appointed by Argyll Mausoleum Ltd to write and design the information that will be provided for mausoleum visitors. We haven't yet started work in earnest, so we don't know exactly what the information will be about or what it will look like. It's likely there'll be outdoor panels in the churchyard, a small exhibition in the church and perhaps some more creative interventions, budget allowing. We're visiting Kilmun in January to learn more about the mausoleum and church, and to come up with some initial ideas. We'll also be having an open meeting to find out what local people think – so please come along and say hello.
Historical Studies at Kilmun
The last quarter of 2012 has seen great progress in the historical research and in the archaeological study of the site.
The History Group met in September to share and discuss findings and despite everyone working away in pairs or individually, we are now working as a real team. While individuals have their own particular interests, we have all been surprised at the wealth of topics connected to the area which are well worth detailed study. The allocation of topics to group members is working well and there is no duplication of effort but quite a lot of information exchanged.
At the moment the emphasis is on the graveyard and the history of the houses. All the gravestones in all the areas of the graveyard have now been recorded and are being assimilated into one document. Photos have been taken of most of the gravestones too but there is still quite a lot of work to do in marrying the photos to the descriptions because of the deterioration of the stones. The house histories are going to take a long time because of the wealth of oral information available. This will be an on going project.
More work – in this case physical rather than cerebral- has also been carried out, and no-one can fail to notice the improvement in the appearance of the graveyard. Advice has been given by both GUARD and Historic Scotland and their strict rules for working in a scheduled area have been closely followed. Bruce ensured that the owners, A & B Council, were happy with the team doing the work. The main area of concern is the heavy growth of ivy on the old tower. This seems to have been a problem for many years, and is mentioned as being a problem at least 200 years ago. Bruce and Alasdair have agreed to cut stems and poison the growth, as the removal of growing ivy can damage the fabric of the building and is not allowed. There is still a lot of work to be carried out in the area, so if anyone is interested please contact Jean or Ann for further information. We are hoping to arrange some work parties in the early springtime. Many thanks are due to the History Group volunteers, especially Archie and Doreen, who have worked so hard to clear away overgrown plants and tidy up around the grave markers.
The first archaeological study was carried out by GUARD in September, with Strone and Dunoon Grammar schools taking part, and pupils showing great interest. An Early Christian grave marker has been located, as well as a 12th/13th century recumbent stone and other markers. The results of the highly technical ground and building survey has been analysed by the experts. The graveyard survey shows the location of all the stones around the church. The overall results of the gradiometry and resistivity survey is exciting, with the discovery of a boundary possibly relating to a church predating the Collegiate tower. A review of the findings by GUARD is planned for the New Year when more details will be revealed, but it is clear that the site would benefit from further study, including excavation. The History Group played a full part in the study and look forward to future work with the professionals.
Benmore and Kilmun Community Development Trust commissioned further work by GUARD on the Collegiate Tower, and the History Group were asked to assist. It took place in truly awful weather, and as the floor of the ruin had to be cleared, most of the group looked like mud wrestlers. It was a great team effort and despite the soaking professionals and amateurs alike really enjoyed the two days. We were very grateful to the Church for the use of the meeting room and kitchen.