Little Cumbrae

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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Cumbrae, Little, an island of Buteshire,* 1½ mile SSW of Millport, and about the same distance E of the southern extremity of Bute and W of the Ayrshire coast. Triangular in shape, with base to SW and apex to NNE, it has an utmost length and breadth of 1¾ mile and 7¾ furlongs, whilst its area is estimated at 700 acres. The surface rises, in a series of terraces, to 409 feet above sea-level toward the middle of the island, and, with exception of a few patches of potatoes and ordinary garden produce, is all wild moorland, burrowed by rabbits, and grazed by scattered sheep. The geological formation is Secondary trap, resting on a substratum of Old Red sandstone. A circular lighthouse, 30 feet high, the earliest but one in Scotland, was built on the highest point about 1750, and commands a magnificent panoramic view; but has been superseded by another lighthouse on the western coast, which was built in 1826, raises its lantern 106 feet above high water, and shows a fixed light, visible at a distance of 15 miles. A strong old tower, on an islet off the E coast, believed to have been erected as a watch-post against the Scandinavian rovers, was surrounded by a rampart and a fosse, and accessible only by a drawbridge. It belonged to the Eglinton family, who still are proprietors of the island; gave refuge, in times of trouble, to that family's friends; was surprised and burned by the troops of Oliver Cromwell; and now is roofless and dilapidated. On the NE slope of the hill are the tomb and ruined chapel of St Vey. Valuation (1882) £308. Pop. (1831) 17, (1861) 20, (1871) 11, (1881) 23.

* Little Cumbrae is assigned in the census to West Kilbride, but to Ardrossan in the Ordnance maps and valuation rolls.

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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