Kilmory Castle is a large 19th-century house located just to the south of Lochgilphead. It is currently occupied by the headquarters of Argyll and Bute Council. The gardens are open to the public and form part of a country park on the former estate.
There was a church at Kilmory in ancient times, and in the 1550s the church and lands of Kilmory were held by the Abbot of Paisley. In 1575 the estate was owned by Donald Campbell of Kilmory, and remained in the Campbell family for over 250 years. A house may have stood here as early as the 14th century. The Campbells built a house, or extended the existing one, in 1816-20. Eliza Campbell, the eldest daughter and co-heir of Peter Campbell, married Sir John Orde, 2nd Baronet in 1824. He purchased the estates following the death of his father in law in 1828 and of his wife in 1829. Orde demolished the modest old Campbell house and replaced it with a grand Gothic style mansion designed by architect Joseph Gordon Davis. The core of the older house was retained, but was extended into an L-plan, with new exterior and interior decoration, and a large octagonal tower at the south-west corner. Orde also greatly expanded and improved the grounds and estate, engaging William Hooker to extend the gardens in 1830. Further extensions were carried out in the 1860s.
Orde was buried in the private burial ground adjacent to the house in 1878. His son succeeded to the baronetcy, and changed his name to Campbell-Orde in 1880. The Campbell-Orde baronets retained the estate until 1938. It passed through several owners thereafter, and served variously as a hotel, hostel and conference centre.
In 1974, Argyll County Council purchased the house to serve as a headquarters for Argyll and Bute District Council, which was formed in 1975. In 1995 local government was reorganised again, although Kilmory remained in use as the headquarters of the new Argyll and Bute unitary authority. An office block extension was built onto the house in 1980-82, to increase the provision of space. Fire damaged the main house the following year, and many interiors had to be refurbished.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.