An ancient kingdom, more modern county and dukedom in the West of Scotland, Argyll was the core of the Kingdom of Dalriada (or Dál Riada), that extended from Wester Ross to the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland, including the islands of the Inner Hebrides. The centre of this kingdom was Dunadd in Mid Argyll. The name derives from the Gaelic 'Earra-Ghàidheal' meaning 'coast of the Gaels'. The territory was fought over by Gaels and Vikings. By the Middle Ages, this had become the territory of the Lords of the Isles, which they ruled until 1493, when King James IV exerted his authority over the MacDonalds and confiscated their land and titles. The title Lord of the Isles is now held by the heir to the Scottish (and now British) throne. James IV vested the control of Argyll in his loyal High Chancellor, Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll (c. 1406-93). The Earls became Dukes in 1701 and served as Lords Lieutenant of Argyllshire almost continuously until 1949. The Duke of Argyll has his home at Inveraray Castle and still owns a substantial area of land hereabouts.

The divisions of Argyll include North Argyll (which once extended as far north as Wester Ross), Mid Argyll (a name which remains in regular use today for facilities in and around Lochgilphead) and South Argyll (which extends to the Mull of Kintyre). Argyllshire was a constituency of the British Parliament from 1708 until 1983. In 1889, Argyllshire was formalised as an administrative county with Inveraray as its county town. In 1976 the administrative county of Argyllshire became part of Strathclyde Region as Argyll and Bute district, but the areas of Ardnamurchan, Ardgour, Ballachulish, Duror, Glen Coe, Kinlochleven, Locheil, Morvern and Sunart were detached and became part of the Lochaber district of Highland Region. In 1996, Argyll and Bute became one of Scotland's new Council Areas, with its headquarters at Kilmory Castle near Lochgilphead.

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