Dalmally Stones Project
MacGREGOR Grave Stones Restored to Homeland
Press release: Oban Times 24th June 2023
Twenty-seven years ago, members of the Clan Gregor Society were reading the records of burials and poems in the 16th-century Book of the Dean of Lismore compiled by Sir James MacGregor.
Keith MacGregor said 'we realised that those carved gravestones of the Loch Awe School, which lay in the churchyard, were none other than the stones which covered the graves of the earliest MacGregor chiefs whose homeland was the three glens of Glenorchy, Glenstrae and Glenlochy. It was an exciting discovery'.
Further research with the help of Dalmally Historic Association revealed that the stones had been removed from the medieval church and subsequently appropriated to cover grave plots in the graveyard of Glenorchy church. As the Highlands opened up to visitors they were seen and described by travellers, starting with Thomas Pennant in 1769. Over the next two hundred years erosion of the stones increased so that in 1996 when members of the Society saw them it was clear they needed to be raised and conserved. Richard McGregor, Chairman of the Society since that first visit said: 'MacGregors have no castle to call their own and very few historical objects as a result of two centuries of proscription of the name by James I and VI. It was one of his last Acts before travelling to London to take up the British Crown following the death of Elizabeth I. Saving our only medieval heritage then was really important'.
It took until 2022 to raise enough funds through grants from Historic Environment Scotland, the Pilgrim Trust, and Society members - many of whom are in America - to allow the conservation work to begin. In supporting
the project Amy Eastwood, Head of Grants at HES, has said:
'We are delighted to support the Clan Gregor Society with £26,813 funding as part of our Historic Environment Support Fund. The project will help to protect and preserve the historic 14th-century stones as well as make them more accessible, providing engagement opportunities for the public and local
Happily, 2022 was also the year in which the Clan Gregor Society celebrated its bicentenary, having been founded in 1822 following the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh that year.
Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor, 24th chief of Clan Gregor, and Chieftain of the Children of the Mist, said: 'it is MacGregor volunteers and members who have donated who have made this dream become a reality.'
The stones are back inside the church at Dalmally and the beautiful carvings of knights and delicate patterns decorating the stones can now be fully appreciated, and they will be preserved for future generations to admire. They are, as one person has said: 'Amazingly ethereal in that setting'. (Oban Times, 24th June 2023)
The Clan Gregor Society SCIO is grateful to all the members who donated to this project and to the archaeology project in Glenorchy over the past 27 years. We also acknowledge grant funding from the Pilgrim Trust, the Strathmartine Trust and Historic Environment Scotland.