This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Kilmartin (Scottish Gaelic: Cille Mhàrtainn) is a small village in Argyll and Bute, western Scotland. It is best known as the centre of Kilmartin Glen, an area with one of the richest concentrations of prehistoric monuments and historical sites in Scotland. It contains over 800 monuments within a 6-mile radius. It is home to Kilmartin Museum and the Kilmartin Hotel.
Kilmartin Parish Church
Kilmartin Parish Church is a congregation of the Church of Scotland. The present church building was designed by architect James Gordon Davis and opened in 1835, though there had been earlier churches on the site. The churchyard has an important collection of early Christian and medieval carved stones, known as the Kilmartin Stones. Some are displayed within the parish church itself, others have been gathered into lapidaria within the graveyard, others still remain lying within it.
The two most important monuments are the Kilmartin crosses, one 9th-10th century, the other late medieval in date, within the church. In the churchyard are a large collection of late medieval gravestones in the 'West Highland' style, dating between the 14th and early 16th centuries. Many are marked by figures of warriors in contemporary dress with spears and swords, along with figures of fantastic animals, foliage and interlace patterns. None are inscribed, so the identities of the persons commemorated are unknown. They can, however, be taken to be the monuments of the local landowning or minor noble class in late medieval times. Kilmartin Church was evidently an important burial site, and the graveslabs of the 'Loch Awe school' of carving may have been carved in a workshop at or near Kilmartin. The swords shown on many of the stones refer to warrior (or, more broadly, social) status, and have no connection with the Templars or other medieval military orders, as is sometimes suggested. Women are commemorated on some of the stones, their symbol often being the shears (referring to household activities).
The Church of Scotland minister at Kilmartin between 1655-87 was John Duncanson (c.1630–1687) who was appointed in 1655, removed in 1662 when episcopacy was re-established but restored in 1670. His son Major Robert Duncanson was a key figure in the 1692 Glencoe Massacre.
Kilmartin Museum interprets the Neolithic monuments of Kilmartin Glen and the surrounding area for visitors, and has a selection of excavated artifacts of various periods. It is located within the village in a group of converted buildings. The Museum has a book and gift shop and a café which serves locally sourced freshly prepared meals . 
Kilmartin Castle, a small 'Z-plan' tower house, dating from about 1580, stands above the village. Kilmartin was a property of the Campbells, many of whom are buried in the churchyard. John Carswell, Rector of Kilmartin and later titular Bishop of the Isles, lived here before moving to his new residence at Carnasserie Castle. The castle comprises an oblong, three-storey main block, with round towers to the north-east and south-west corners, as well as a small stair tower in the west front. Formerly ruined, it has been restored as a private house in recent years. Shot holes and iron yetts over the windows have been retained.
Kilmartin Glen is the location of several important Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age sites, including Temple Wood (a henge monument), several burial cairns, chambered cairns, standing stones and cup and ring marked rocks.
Kilmartin's is one of the finest concentrations of prehistoric sites in Scotland, and almost all are within an easy walk of the roads which criss-cross the valley. One of the burial cairns has been rebuilt, with access through an opening in the top down stairs to the base of the cairn and a stone burial cist. The two stone circles in Temple Wood have also been re-erected by archaeologists.
Carnasserie Castle (Historic Scotland; no entrance charge) stands a little north of Kilmartin. It was built by Bishop John Carswell of Argyll between 1565 and 1572, acquired on his death by his patron the Earl of Argyll then sold in 1643 to Sir Dugald Campbell, 3rd Baronet of Auchinbreck. It was blown up by government forces when his successor Duncan Campbell participated in the failed 1685 Argyll's Rising and never repaired. Largely complete, though roofless, its architecture is notably refined and includes much Renaissance ornamental detail.
Also within Kilmartin parish is the important Iron Age and early medieval hill-fort of Dunadd, one of the major centres of the kingdom of Dál Riata (Historic Scotland, no entrance charge). Kilmartin has throughout history been considered one of the poorer and more destitute areas of Scotland.
Moine Mhòr National Nature Reserve
Moine Mhòr National Nature Reserve (NNR) encompasses a large area of raised bog, as well as saltmarsh, brackish grassland, alder carr, fen and woodland. Lying within Kilmartin Glen, the variety of habitats at Moine Mhor NNR provide important habitats for a variety of animal and plant species. Moine Mhòr was declared an NNR in 1987 and is owned and managed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). According to SNH, due to removal of peat, afforestation and reclamation of farmland, lowland raised bogs like Moine Mhor are some of the rarest and most threatened natural wildlife habitats in Europe.
Sphagnum mosses are the key plants in the formation of a raised bog and nine species have been recorded at Moine Mhòr NNR. The marginal habitats mean that there is also a diverse flowering plant community, including purple heath orchid, round-leaved sundew, bog myrtle and asphodel. The wider area also supports some important fauna, such as the marsh fritillary butterfly, a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species and one of Europe's most threatened. Two hundred thirty-five bird species have also been recorded at the Reserve, including an important population of Hen Harriers. SNH's publication, The Story of Moine Mhòr National Nature Reserve provides more information about the Reserve.
As well as being a National Nature Reserve, Moine Mhòr holds a number of both national and international designations for its natural heritage, including:
- Moine Mhòr Special Area of Conservation (SAC);
- Moine Mhòr Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI);
- Lies within the Knapdale National Scenic Area (NSA);
- VisitScotland: Kilmartin Parish Church, VisitScotland, retrieved 6 November 2010
- Lomas, Robert (2007). Turning the Templar Key. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds. p. 129. Retrieved 22 Aug 2016.
- Hopkins, Paul. "Robert Duncanson". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
- Coventry, Martin The Castles of Scotland (3rd Edition), Goblinshead, 2001
- Lindsay, Maurice The Castles of Scotland, Constable & Co. 1986
- for Kilmartin
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kilmartin.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kilmartin Parish Church.|