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Bute


(Isle of Bute)

Extending southwards into the Firth of Clyde, the Isle of Bute lies between the Cowal peninsula and the Isle of Arran. It has an area of 12,217 ha (30,188 acres). Loch Fad cuts diagonally across the centre of the island, along the line of the Highland Boundary Fault that separates a wild, hilly landscape of Dalradian Schists to the north, with extensive areas of forestry, from the more productive arable land on Old Red Sandstone to the south. Bute has a unique long-tailed field mouse and a trial reintroduction of the European beaver took place here in 1875. Rothesay, the main town on the island, is linked by ferry to Wemyss Bay. Rhubodach, at the northern tip of Bute, is connected by ferry to Colintraive, on the opposite side of the narrow Kyles of Bute.

Bute was an early seat of the Celtic Christian Church, with St. Cathan and St. Blane based at a monastery on the site of St. Blane's Chapel in the south of the island. Around the turn of the 13th C., Bute had been granted by King William I (1143 - 1214 ) to Alan, 2nd High Steward of Scotland (1177 - 1204), an ancestor of King Robert II, the first of the Stuart dynasty. The majority (89%) of the island is owned by the Marquess of Bute, a direct descendant of Robert II, through the Bute Estate and Mount Stuart Trust. Places of interest include the remarkable Mount Stuart house and its fine gardens, Rothesay Castle, Kames Castle, St Mary's Chapel, Bute Museum and the settlements of Port Bannatyne, Kerrycroy, Kingarth and Kilchattan Bay. The island supports an annual Jazz Festival in May and the Bute Agricultural Show in August. The population has shown a steady decline from 9793 in 1961 to 8423 (1971), 7306 (1981), 7354 (1991), 7149 (2001) and 6498 (2011), but it remains one of the more densely populated islands in Scotland. Natives of Bute are known as Brandanes, and the local amateur football team is Rothesay Brandane.

As an isolated island community close to the main population centres of Scotland, Bute took an important role during World War II. Within hours of war being declared, thousands of children were evacuated to the island. Rothesay became Britain's principal base for training submariners and midget submarines based at Port Bannatyne were to attack the German battleship Tirpitz in 1943. A decoy village was established at Balnakailly, in the unpopulated north of the island, to draw German bombers away from Greenock.


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