Where we began…(1337)

The Chapel of St Brigid at Margnaheglish, Arran

In 1337, Sir John de Menteith gave a considerable amount of land to Kilwinning Abbey. These lands included a huge portion of Arran and also lands we now recognise as our village centre. In these medieval times the King owned all the lands but recognised feudal Earls (from vikingr Jarl) over estates. Earls might then infeu smaller parts to Barons, Lairds etc.

Our village was possibly part of the estates of Arran from the invasion of Somerled in 1153 through to it’s separate elevation as an ecclesiastical Barony in 1567 under the Maxwells. For all these years, the Earl of Arran had control of the strategically important port of Portencross and inland towards Glasgow which had been used by Somerled’s invasion troops at the battle of Renfrew in 1164. As the Earldom of Arran changed, so did the ownership of our village – we came under the great families such as de Menteith, Comyns, Stewarts, Boyds and Maxwells. The Boyds of course built the 14th Century Portencross Castle, and the 15th Century Law Castle under their Earldom.

So, in 1337 a new Parish called Kilbride was erected covering substantial agricultural estates on both sides of the Firth and to be managed by the monks at Kilwinning. The Parish church was the Chapel of St Bridget at Margnaheglish on the outskirts of Lamlash, shown in the map below.

Our original Parish Church now looks like this photograph on the right. The Canmore website has this further information for us:

Kilbride Chapel, subsequently the parish church, is first mentioned in 1357. It is now ruinous, with small arched doors and windows. A modern fence, running N-S, intersects the building; E of it is a small chamber, paved with gravestones. Some years ago, the E gable fell into ruins among which a monogrammed stone, dated 1618 was found. This stone (see illustration Card) was built into the wall when the gable was reconstructed; it is now partly ivy-covered. No doubt it was presented by the Marquis of Hamilton, patron of Kilbride. There is a cruciform headstone within the chapel. Another was found a few years ago beneath the ruins of the chapel, and is now placed over the grave of a sailor washed ashore in Lamlash Bay. A third was found in may 1892 when digging within a few yards of the E side of church.


Balfour alleges that the latter cross, now lying face down within the chapel, was removed from the burial ground on Holy Island (NS03SE 1) about 1858, and buried in the churchyard here. Many grave-slabs in the burial ground have been effaced, but some are shown on Illustration.

J McArthur 1873; D Landsborough 1897; J A Balfour 1909; J A Balfour 1910.

(Kilbride, Isles). One of the two parish churches of Arran, the church of St Bride was granted by John of Menteith, lord of Arran and Knapdale, to Kilwinning c. 1337, this being confirmed by David II in 1364, Robert III (1390 x 1406) and by Pope Benedict XIII in 1407/8. Nevertheless, the patronage lay with the crown in 1437, probably passing to James, lord Hamilton with the earldom of Arran in 1503, and being confirmed to that earldom in in 1540. The grant may, however, have been common form as neither church is designated by name, and both parsonage and vicarage teinds appear to have been annexed by this date to the bishops of the Isles, who held them at the Reformation.

I B Cowan 1967.

These are aerial photographs of the ruinous church as it stands now:

Chapel of St Brigid, Lamlash

So this is where we began some 680 years ago, as an agricultural estate attached to the Arran Parish of Kilbride. 450 years ago, in 1567, we assumed the name Kilbride in our own right as a separate ecclesiastical Barony, and the West was added sometime in the 18th Century to differentiate us from East Kilbride for mail coach purposes.

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