(Isle of Bute)

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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Bute, an island in the N of Buteshire. It is surrounded by belts, bands, or expanses of the Firth of Clyde; and, round its northern half, is separated from Argyllshire only by the narrow semicircular belt called the Kyles of Bute. It extends south-south-eastward from the elbow of the Kyles at the mouth of Loch Riddon to the narrow part of the fair-way of the Firth of Clyde, only 2¼ miles wide between itself and Little Cumbrae island. Its greatest length, from Buttock Point south-south-eastward to Garroch Head, is 15½ miles; its breadth varies between 9 furlongs and 61/8 miles (from Bogany Point to Ardscalpsie Point); and its area, including Inchmarnock, is 31,836½ acres or 49¾ square miles. The coast is indented on the E by Kames, Rothesay, and Kilchattan Bays; on the W by Dunagoil, Stravanan, Scalpsie, St Ninians, and Etterick Bays; and, for the most part rocky, includes some sweeps and stretches of fine beach. The interior seems at one time to have formed four hilly islands, and now is traversed by three low continuous, nearly parallel dingles, dividing it into four districts. The northernmost and largest of these, terminating in a dingle running from Kames Bay to Etterick Bay, has an extreme length and breadth of 5½ and 41/8 miles; and here, from N to S, rise Muclich Hill (638 feet), North Hill of Bullochreg (769), Torran Turach (745), Kilbride Hill (836), Kames Hill (875), and Eenan Hill (538). The second district extends to a dingle running from Rothesay Bay to Scalpsie Bay; measures 43/8 by 61/8 miles; and attains 457 feet above sea-level near Kamesburgh, 530 near Auchiemore Wood, and 477 to the W of the head of Loch Fad; and has a more diversified coast than any of the other districts. The third extends to a dingle running from Kilchattan Bay to Stravanan Bay; its highest point is Ardencraig (433 feet), ¾ mile E of Rothesay. The southernmost and smallest district measures only about 2½ miles by 2, and attains an elevation of 517 feet above sea-level near Kilchattan, of 485 in Torr Mor. The general surface displays a charming variety of contour and slope, containing thousands of points which command great sweeps of gorgeous prospect, and hundreds which command magnificent panoramic views. The views round the Kyles, up Lochs Striven, Riddon, and Fyne, down Kilbrannan Sound, over and along the Firth of Clyde, on to the mountains of Cowal, the swelling hills of Kintyre, the sublime peaks of Arran, the broken surfaces of the Cumbraes, and the rich, vast amphitheatre of Ayrshire, are among the most exquisite in Scotland. Rothesay Bay alone, with the views outward from it, is worth a long journey to behold. The other bays also, and the entire semicircle of the Kyles, are brilliantly picturesque. A chain of lakes-Lochs Ascog (1 mile x 2 furl.), Fad (2½ x ¼ mile), Quien (5 x 2¾ furl.) -lies along most of the dingle separating the second district from the third. The longest rivulet, the Glenmore Burn, rises within 2 miles of the northern extremity, and runs 4½ miles S by eastward, along Glen More, to the northern side of Etterick Bay. Other streams are numerous, but most have a run of less than 2, and none of more than 2¾, miles. Micaceous schist is almost the sole formation throughout the northern district; clay and chlorite slate, resting in parts on great beds of quartz, prevail throughout the second; the third is composed of Old Red sandstone; and trap rocks, erupted through and overlying Old Red sandstone, predominate throughout the southernmost district. Veins of copper ore were discovered near Kames Bay shortly before 1859; and other mineral deposits are lime, coal, and slate, but all of inferior quality. The island is divided politically into Rothesay, North Bute, and Kingarth parishes; includes the quoad sacra parish of New Rothesay, and 2 chapelries in Rothesay; and is ecclesiastically in the presbytery of Dunoon and synod of Argyll. Its only town is Rothesay; and its chief villages are Port Bannatyne or Kamesburgh and Ascog. Its detailed features are noticed in articles on the parishes and principal localities; its antiquities and other special objects of interest under Rothesay, Kames, Dungyle, Blanes, and Mountstuart; and its history is given under Rothesay and the Hebrides. Bute gives the title of Earl in the peerage of Scotland, of Marquis in that of the United Kingdom, to a branch of the family of Stewart. The earldom was created in 1703, the marquisate in 1796; and the former was preceded by the titles of Baron Crichton, Viscount of Ayr, and Earl of Dumfries. The Marquis takes also from places in Bute the titles of Baron Mountstuart and Viscount of Kingarth; and, from other Buteshire islands, the titles of Baron Cumbrae and Baron Inchmarnock. His lordship's Scottish seats are Mountstuart in Bute, and Dumfries House in Ayrshire. Valuation (1881) £79,293, including £54,704 for the burgh of Rothesay. Pop. (1801) 6106, (1831) 6830, (1841) 9499, (1851) 10,661, (1861) 9306, (1871) 10,064, (1881) 10,971, of whom 758 were Gaelic-speaking.—Ord. Sur., shs. 21,29,1870-73. See J. Wilson, Rothesay and the -Island of Bute (1848; 4th ed. 1871), and Arch. M'Neilage, 'On the Agriculture of Bute and Arran,' in Trans. of the Highl. and Ag. Soc., 1881.

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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