A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Seil, an island of Kilbrandon and Kilchattan parish, Argyllshire, lying 3½ miles S by W of Kerrera, and 4 SE of Mull. It is separated on the E by a very narrow strait from the mainland district of Nether Lorn; on the S by sounds only 2 or 3 furlongs broad from Torsa and Luing; and on the W by sounds of ½ mile and 1 mile in breadth from Easdale and Sheep Isle. It measures 4¼ miles in length from N to S, and 2¼ miles in extreme breadth; but is much indented by the sea, and has a very irregular outline. Its area is 3820 1/3 acres, of which 4331/5 are foreshore and 25806/7 moorland. The surface is disposed in three parallel ridges, two intervening valleys, and a belt of plain along part of the shore. The northern ridge, which is the highest and most rugged, has an altitude of upwards of 800 feet, and presents to the sea on the N side of the island a series of naked precipices. The middle ridge is prolonged more decidedly than the former, and in a north-easterly direction; it does not acquire an elevation of more than 400 feet; and, though in many parts presenting faces of bare rock, it descends at each end to the sea in flat and verdant shores. The southern ridge is low and narrow; it extends from side to side of the island in the same direction as the former; it is- distinguished, even at a distance, by its grey colour and its numerous protrusions of bare rock; and it is succeeded on the SE by a flat shore, much indented, but verdant and fertile. Clay slate, in several varieties, constitutes the larger part of the island; but, in consequence of the immediate vicinity of the superior slate of Easdale, it is not very extensively worked. The soil, wherever the form of the ground admits of cultivation, is good. Several summits of the ridges command pleasant views of the intricate channels and numerous islands along the coast of Lorn, and of the distant mountains of Mull and Jura. The E side of the island, and the confronting land in Lorn, form, with the intervening strait, a series of very rich close landscapes. The strait somewhat resembles the famed Kyles of Bute, but is more isleted, more romantically narrow, and rifer in those flexures of channel and projections of land which seem to prohibit farther progress. The shores, on the Seil side, now lofty and now low, are finely variegated with arable fields, green meadows, waving trees, and rugged rocks; and on the Lorn side, they are high, extensively sheeted with hanging wood, and romantically varied with ornamental culture, wood-embosomed cliffs, and sharply receding bays and creeks. The strait between these shores is at least 3 miles in length; and over most of this distance it rarely exceeds 200 yards in breadth, whilst in one place towards the N it contracts for a considerable way to a breadth of only 50 or 60 yards. The- tidal stream, running with considerable velocity through this passage, generally wears the appearance of a great inland mountain river; and it betrays its marine connections only at low water when the rocks look up with a shaggy dress of seaweed. The water is deep enough at half tide to admit the passage of the boats of the country; and across the narrowest part of the strait strides a bridge of one large arch, erected towards the close of last century, 78 feet in span and 26 above high-water mark. Lord Breadalbane owns all the island, except the estate of Ardincaple, which was sold, with Sheep Island, in 1881, for £21, 000. Pop. (1861) 724, (1871) 731, (1881) 661, of whom 330 were females, and 589 were Gaelic-speaking. - -

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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