Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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THE ISLE OF ARRAN Burial Grounds


Photographs of Headstones in some Arran Cemeteries

By Kenny Monaghan  kenny@monaghan95.freeserve.co.uk

There are nine graveyards/ cemeteries on Arran with monuments carrying legible inscriptions. In 1983 - 84 the monumental inscriptions were copied and may be seen at the Isle of Arran Heritage Museum, Rosaburn Brodick, which is open daily from 1st April to 23rd October ( 10.30 am - 4.30 pm ). Outwith this period it is only open on a Wednesday ( Tel 01770 302636 ). A further copy of the volume of inscriptions is available in Ardrossan Library, Dept. of Local History ( Tel 01394 469137).

The ruined remains of medieval chapels may be seen at various points on the island, some with gravestones lacking inscriptions. Details of those chapels are given in an introduction to the monumental inscriptions volume. 

Burial Registers/ Lair Books for most of the graveyards / cemeteries are available at the local Cemeteries Office within the Registrarís Office building on Shore Road, Lamlash, (Tel 01770 600338 ), and may be examined by prior appointment. Details of the periods for which information is available are given below for each site.

1. LAMLASH. Kilbride graveyard and cemetery.

This burial ground stands on a hillside to the northeast of Lamlash. It may be reached by a narrow winding road passing through Lamlash golf course. One enters this road from the main Brodick - Lamlash road at a point about 150 meters past the entrance to the golf course. It is easily missed.

The graveyard is surrounded by a brick wall, and contains the ruined and roofless remains of St Brides chapel that appears to date from the 14th Century, and is said to have served as Kilbride Parish Church until sometime in the 18th Century. The graveyard is closely packed with 458 monumental stones, a number of which stand within the chapel ruins. The earliest legible stone carries the date 1603

On the north side of the graveyard there is a large modem cemetery divided into two sections and containing, in 1984, a total of 585 monumental stones. The eastern section appears to date from the late 19th century, while the western section contains graves from about 1940. As with all Arran burial grounds, everything is neat and well kept. 

Burial Records. Three Lair Books, from 1883 -, from 1945 -, and from 1977 -.

2. BRODICK. Old Graveyard.

This graveyard, which was formerly associated with Glenshurig church, is located beside the String Road at the junction with the cart tracks to Glenrosa and Glenshurig. It is totally screened from the road by trees and bushes, and the entrance to it is only easily discoverable when on foot. The church was erected in 1839 and demolished about 1931 when the congregation joined the Church of Scotland in Brodick. Having the appearance of an isolated forest clearing, the graveyard contains 121 monumental stones, the earliest legible one dating from 1863. What appears to be the latest inscription records a death in 1978.

Brodick Cemetery.

The modern Brodick Cemetery is located a short distance further up the String Road and on its south side. It slopes up from the road and is screened from it by a high neat hedge. There is no Notice Board to indicate the presence of the cemetery. At the time of writing it contained 60 monumental stones, the earliest inscription dating from 1985

Burial Records. Three Lair Books, from 1895 -, from 1910 -, and from 1985 -.


On the hillside above the Castle and within the estate there is a small private cemetery adjacent to the path that leads to Goat Fell. It contains three graves, viz. those of the 11th and 12th Dukes of Hamilton, and of the wife of the latter.

4. SANNOX graveyard and cemetery.

This is another location that is difficult to find. One proceeds north along the coast road through, and almost out of, the village of Sannox, until a roadside notice is seen indicating a cart track leading to Glen Sannox. The entrance to the graveyard is about 250 metres along this minor road and on its left side. A stone wall surrounds the graveyard, in a roughly hexagonal arrangement. In one comer remnants of a St Michael chapel dating from the 14th Century are evident. There are 132 monumental stones, many tumbled and 32 more or less illegible. 1721 would appear to be the earliest legible date on a memorial. At the west end of the graveyard there is a gap in the stone wall giving access to a later extension containing a further 49 stones.

A small modem cemetery is located beyond the south side of the old graveyard. The stones in it appear to date from the early 1940s

Burial records. Burial Register, from 1915 -, Two Lair Books, from 1942 -, and from 1971 -5.

5. LOCHRANZA graveyard and cemetery

In this village there is no difficulty in finding the graveyard. On entering from the east, from the direction of Glen Chalmadale, one soon sees, on the left side of the road, St Brides Church and its many surrounding gravestones, protected by a stone wall. The church appears to have been built in 1795 on the site of an earlier building. Many of the 373 stones predate the erection of the present church, the earliest commemorating a death in 1720. There are also a number of more modem commemorative plaques within the church.

On the south side of the graveyard an opening has been created in a fence giving access to an adjacent area of grass in which a small cemetery has been laid out. The stones in it date from 1986

Burial Records. Burial Register ( graveyard), 1901 - 1996. Lair Book ( cemetery ), from 1986 - ,

The Sailorís Grave.

About halfway between Lochranza and Catacol, a small memorial plaque may be seen in the grass on the landward side of the coast road. It commemorates the death and burial of a sailor, John McLean, who died of cholera on his ship in 1854. Permission was sought to bury him in LochRanza graveyard but was refused due to fear of the disease. He was buried secretly at the roadside in unconsecrated ground by a shipmate. Neither the name of the ship, nor the place of birth of the deceased appears to be known.


This small rectangular burial ground is located close to the landward side of the coast road about two and a half miles south of Catacol. It is easily missed due to the small number of visible gravestones, the partly collapsed dry stone dyke that separates it from the road, and the surrounding vegetation. It was possibly the graveyard of a church that no longer exists. The graves appear to have been arranged in three approximately parallel rows, but there are only nine conventional monumental stones showing dates from 1794 to 1898. The remaining graves are marked only by flat pieces of native rock. In spite of its isolation, the grass within this cemetery is kept short. 

Burial Records. There do not appear to be any records for this cemetery.


Of all the burial grounds in Arran, this is the most difficult to find and reach. It lies just above the shoreline, against a cliff carrying the coast road, and about 500 metres south of the group of houses known as Whitefarland. To reach it, one has to enter the field at the north side of the houses, go south through it and a second field, and cross a style to reach the shingle shore at the far end. Proceed along the shore and move up onto the grass verge when possible. Trees at the shoreline and a heap of boulders will be seen in the distance. These mark the cemetery. It is so well hidden by the vegetation on either side of it and on the cliff face, and by the heaped boulders on the shore, that it only becomes apparent when one pushes through a gap in the bushes. It occupies a rectangular area about 12 metres square, and contains 19 monumental stones only one of which is illegible. They are arranged in neat rows and carry dates ranging from 1844 to 1962. In spite of its isolation, the cemetery is well kept. A mop and an open metal container were seen at one corner. 

Burial Records. There do not appear to be any records for this cemetery.

8. KILMORY graveyard and cemetery.

The village of Kilmory lies about a half mile east of Lagg on the coast road running around the south end of the island. Kilmory church adjoins a minor road about 400 309 stones, of which 19 were already illegible in 1984. The earliest date on a stone appears to be 1700. About 1940, provision for graves was extended by forming a cemetery which lies beyond the west wall of the graveyard. It now contains almost 100 stones

Burial records. Burial Register from 193 1 -, Lair Book from 1940 -,

9. SHISKIN.  Clauchan graveyard and cemeteries.

The village of Shiskin lies on the overland road (B880) between Brodick and Blackwaterfoot, about 2 miles inland from the latter. It has in its vicinity a graveyard, which is very difficult to discover without local inquiry. North of the village the road follows a long slow curve to the right followed by a sharp left hand turn over a bridge. Just beyond the bridge on the right side of the road there is a row of cottages (Bridgend) on a cart track. This leads to the Clauchan graveyard in a narrow glen with steep tree-covered sides. The Clauchan Water runs along one side of the graveyard. On the way to the graveyard one passes a ruined building which was evidently a preaching house built in 1805, and in continuous use until a church was built in Shiskin in 1889. The rectangular graveyard is contained within a low stone wall and is tightly packed with 279 monumental stones, of which about 40 were partly or totally illegible in 1984. There are a number of inscriptions dating from the 18th Century, the earliest would appear to be from 1741. There is a small cemetery extension containing 50 stones further up the glen beyond the graveyard. They seem to date from the early 1930s. A second more modern cemetery is located in a field beyond the north side of the glen. A rough path with timber-edged steps leads up to it from the glen, but it is more easily accessible from a cart track further along the main road. 

Burial Records. Burial Register, from 1902 -, Lair Books; old cemetery from 1938 -, new cemetery from 1968 -

The locations of some of the burial grounds in Arran would appear to be among its best kept secrets.


During the 18th Century burials took place in a graveyard on the west side of Holy Isle near the now roofless and ruined single-storey building about 150 metres south of the ferry landing stage. This continued until about 1780, when a boat carrying a funeral party across from the Lamlash shore was struck by a squall and some of the occupants drowned. According to John McArthur  ( Antiquities of Arran, 1873 ) and the New Statistical Account, burials on the island ceased thereafter. 

In 1835 the monumental stones were removed, and the graveyard turned into a vegetable garden. Today there is no evidence to indicate the locations of the graves. Some large smooth rectangular stones, that are probably weathered gravestones, lie in the grass near the roofless building and at points on the path that leads south.











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