Probably because of its relative isolation, Knapdale's religious symbols escaped much of the reformation's iconoclasm that occurred in other parts of Scotland. You can find a more extensive discussion of Knapdale's Celtic world here, along with a copy of Marion Campbell's "Archaeological Guide" to Mid Argyll.

Knapdale's traditional name was "Kilvicocharmaig" in honour of one of the original missionaries in this area. The Keills chapel was dedicated to the Celtic saint, Saint Cormac. The whole parish was a 'prebend' of The Bishop of Argyll at Lismore, and belonged to Kilwinning Abbey in Ayrshire And Saint Moluag, who left many spiritual centres in Knapdale, founded a monastery at Lismore.

PREBEND: a pension, or part of revenue of a cathedral granted to a canon as a stipend.

By the way, if you check the monument inscriptions for Kilmory Knap, you will find a number of 19th century memorials, long after the post reformation churches at Kilmichael Inverlussa and Tayvallich were built. Marion Campbell of Kilberry told me that these people were probably 'dissenters' from the Established Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and preferred to be buried within this very old religious centre. For example, Duncan Graham is explicitly identified as a Minister of the Free Church of Scotland. His father, Donald Graham, was an Elder of the early North Knapdale Free Church.

The gentleman to the left is John Knox, who we must credit with bringing Calvinism and hence, Presbyterianism, to Scotland. The drawing is by John Kay, an Edinburgh artist of the late 1700s. Note that to Kay, Knox looks like a nice man. It was in the 20th century that secularism has overtaken a religious sensibility, and Calvinism and John Knox, have in the process, gotten a very bad press. Portraits of Knox have become that of a harsh frowning man.

The Presbyterian Church of Scotland was defined in 1638 by the National Covenant, a contract with God, signed by Nobles, Ministers and thousands of Scots throughout the land. It was Scotland's boast that its Church had as its head, not a bishop, not a pope, and not a king, but "only" Jesus Christ. The centre piece of this Presbyterianism, was, and is, the Word of God, as written in the Bible, not by statues and remains of saints. The colour and carvings were replaced, sometimes violently, in favour of a simple and unadorned church and ritual.

You can see why this led to Scotland's war against the Stewart kings of Britain (that is, "no bishop, no king!" as King James VI maintained.) The most powerful clan in Scotland however, the Campbells of Argyll, were leaders of the Protestant forces (which may explain why 2 of their Earls were beheaded before 1700.)

The Solemn League and Covenant
Now brings a smile, now brings a tear
But sacred freedom, too, was theirs
If thou ‘rt a slave, indulge thy sneer.
(Robert Burns)

Carrying on, the next page will attempt to describe the structure of the Church of Scotland (without too many errors!)