Jura

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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Jura (Scand. deor-oe, 'deer island'), an island and a parish in Argyllshire. One of the southern or Islay group of the Hebrides, the island extends north-north-eastward, from within ½ mile of Islay to within ¾ mile of Scarba, and lies opposite Knapdale and the southern extremity of Lorn, at distances decreasing from 12 to 2½ miles, being separated from lslay by the Sound of Islay, from Knapdale and Lorn by the Sound of Jura, and from Scarba by the Gulf of Corrievrechan. Its utmost length is 28 miles; and its width increases generally south-south-westward from less than 3 to 82/3 miles; but towards the middle it contracts to ¾ mile, being all but bisected by Loch Tarbert, a long narrow arm of the sea, which opens from the W. It communicates with other Hebrides and with the mainland by the Clyde steamers to Islay and to Oban; maintains ferries from Feolin in the S to Islay, from Lagg near the middle of the E coast to Keills in Knapdale, and from a place in the N to Craignish in Lorn; and at Craighouse has a post office under Greenock, with money order and savings' bank departments, at Lagg another post office, an inn, and a cattle fair on the last Friday of July, and at Small Isles another fair on the Friday after the last Tuesday of June. From end to end extends a ridge of bleak and rugged mountains, summits of which to the N of Loch Tarbert are Clachbhein (912 feet), Ben Garrisdale (1210), Ben Breac (1482), Meall Alt Dubh (794), Rainberg (1495), and Na Ursainge (580); to the S, Sprinncaldale (1653), Beinn an Oir (2569), Beinn a Chaolais (2412), Dubh Beinn (1735), Brat Beinn (1123), and Cnoc Reumer (595). The two highest of these, Beinn an Oir (Gael. 'mountain of gold') and Beinn a Chaolais ('mountain of the sound'), are the conical Paps of Jura, which figure conspicuously in a multitude of views both near and far. The western declivities of the island are abrupt, rugged, wild, intersected by numerous torrents, and almost destitute of verdure; and they approach so closely to the shore, in skirts as rocky and barren as their shoulders, that very scanty space is left for culture or inhabitation. The eastern declivities, descending more smoothly and gradually, have their lower slopes clothed with vegetation, leave a belt of plain between their skirts and the beach, and present on the whole a pleasing appearance. Several anchoring places are on the W coast; and two good roadsteads, called Small Isles Harbour and Lowlandman's Bay, besides several landing-places, are on the E coast. The Sound of Jura, contracting north-north-eastward, sends off from its mainland side Lochs Caolis-port, Sween, and Crinan; contains a good many islets; and merges at its northern extremity into the tumultuous waters of the Gulf of Corrievrechan. A principal rock of Jura is white or red quartz, some of it brecciated; other rocks are micaceous granite, micaceous sandstone, and a bluish red-veined slate, so fine as to be used as a whetstone. Its minerals include iron ore, a vein of black oxide of manganese, and a fine silicious sand suitable for the manufacture of glass. The micaceous granite is quarried, and the silicious sand has been used in glass-making. The soil along the shore is thin and stony; on the slopes is partly moorish, partly improvable moss; and along the foot of the mountains is so beset with springs, or otherwise so spouty, as to be wholly unworkable. A dozen small upland lakes lie in the hollows among the hills; and several considerable burns, well stocked with trout and salmon, descend to the coast. Cattle and sheep farming is carried on; but much the greater part of the island is deer-forest, the head of deer being estimated at 2000. Little comparatively of the land is arable, though much that was formerly waste has been reclaimed for either tillage or pasture. The cattle are a good strong Highland breed; and black-faced and Cheviot sheep were introduced in the first two decades of the present century. Several barrows and duns are on the hills; and near Small Isles Harbour are remains of an ancient camp, with a triple line of defence. Jura House, near the southern coast, is the seat of James Campbell Esq. Of Jurs (b. 1818 suc. 1878), who holds 55,000 acres, valued at nearly £4000 per annum. The other proprietor is Walter Macfarlane, Esq. of Ardlussa, which has been noticed separately. In 1877, Henry Evans, Esq., lessee of Jura Forest, built a fine large shooting-lodge near Small Isles. Pop. (1811) 1157, (1831) 1312, (1851) 1064, (1861) 858, (1871) 761, (1881) 773.

The parish of Jura, anciently comprehending the islands of Gigha, Cara, Colonsay, and Oronsay, was designated Kilearnadale and Kilchattan. Gigha and Cara were disjoined about 1729, Colonsay and Oronsay in 1861; but it still comprises the islands of Belnahua, Garvelloch, Lunga, and Scarba, all of which are noticed separately. Its present total area is 93,799 acres, or 146½ square miles. This parish is in the presbytery of Islay and Jura and synod of Argyll; the living is worth £186. The parish church was built in 1776, and, as enlarged and improved in 1842, contains 249 sittings. There is a Free Church preaching station; and five schools, all of them public but the last-Ardlussa, Belnahua, Knockrome, Small Isles, and New Brosdale-with respective accommodation for 30, 41, 68, 56, and 38 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 12, 17, 29, 39, and 25, and grants of £24, 11s., £29, 4s., £39, 14s., £45, 3s., and £32, 5s. Valuation (1883) £5568, 8s. Pop. (1861) 1052, (1871) 952, (1881) 946, of whom 819 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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