Knapdale

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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Knapdale, a district of Argyllshire. It is bounded on the N by Loch Crinan, the Crinan Canal, and Loch Gilp, which separate it from Lorn and Argyll proper; on the E by Loch Fyne, which separates it from Cowal; on the S by Tarbert isthmus and the Lochs Tarbert, which separate it from Kintyre; on the W by the Islay Sea and the Sound of Jura, which separate it from Islay and Jura. Its greatest length, from N to S, is 27 miles; and its greatest breadth is 9 miles. It is prevented only by the narrow Tarbert isthmus from being a continuation northward of the peninsula of Kintyre; and it is so deeply indented on the W by Lochs Caolisport and Swin as to be itself, in a great measure, cut into three peninsulas-the largest between West Loch Tarbert and Loch Caolisport; the smallest between Loch Swin and the Sound of Jura. It now is not a political division of the county, but is placed partly in the political division of Argyll proper, and partly in that of Islay. It formerly was all one parish, but now is divided into the two parishes of North Knapdale and South Knapdale, and part of the parish of Kilcalmonell and Kilberry. It anciently was called Kihick-Charmaig, signifying 'the church or burying-ground of the son of Carmaig;' and the Carmaig to whom that name alludes is said to have been an Irish missionary, who first preached Christianity to the natives. Its present name is compounded of two Celtic words signifying 'a rounded hill 'and' a plain;' indicates a country mainly composed of rounded hills and intersecting dales; and is perfectly descriptive of the district's surface. The two clans Macmillan and Macneil seem to have anciently possessed all Knapdale, but they now are very sparsely found within its limits. See Capt. T. P. White's Arehological Sketches in Knapdale (Edinb. 1875).

Knapdale, North, a parish in Knapdale territorial district and Islay political district, Argyllshire. Formed out of the large old parish of Knapdale in 1734, it includes the port of Crinan and the small village of Bellanoch, 6 miles NW of Ardrishaig. It is bounded N by the Crinan Canal, E by South Knapdale, S by the Atlantic, and W by the Sound of Jura. Its utmost length, from N to S, is 16 miles; its utmost breadth is 6 miles; and its land area is 26, 293 acres. A number of small islands, including the inhabited ones of Danna and Ulva, lie off the W coast. Loch Swin, from foot to head, penetrates the interior, and peninsulates the north-western district at three different points. The coast, along the W and within Loch Swin, is fully 50 miles in extent; its shores are much diversified by rocky bluffs and abrupt projections, which rise in many places boldly to heights of 300 feet; but it includes some reaches of gentle slope or moderate acclivity. The interior mainly consists of hill and dale, being much diversified in both its upland and its lowland portions, and possessing a large aggregate of wood and water. It abounds, especially round the shores of Loch Swin, in picturesque close scenes; and commands from many vantage-grounds extensive and magnificent views. The loftiest height is CruachLussach (2004 feet); other conspicuous eminences are Dunardary, Duntaynish, Ervary, and Arichonan. The principal heights, culminating in Cruach-Lussach, form a chain or continuous watershed, extending from NE to SW; and the subordinate heights lie variously arranged on the two sides of this chain, declining shorewards into gentle declivities; whilst a tract between the western ones and Loch Swin, with a breadth of nearly ½ mile, is a slightly inclined plain. Several considerable burns, one of them making a beautiful cascade near Inverlussa church, rise in the interior and run to the sea; some twenty-one fresh-water lakes, the largest not more than 3 miles in circumference, lie dispersed through the interior, principally in the N; and excellent springs, some of them strongly impregnated with lime, are abundant. The soil of the arable lands is sandy, gravelly, mossy, or loamy; and, at the SW extremity, is rich, friable, and very productive. About one-eighth of the entire area is in tillage; woods and plantations cover more than 2000 acres; and the rest of the land is either pastoral or waste. Antiquities, other than Castle-Swin, are a mound near Crinan on which the Lords of the Isles are said to have held courts of justice, remains of three old forts or watch-towers, the ruin of the chapel of St Carmaig, an ancient cross 9 feet high, and the ruins of the religious house of Drimnacraig. Major-General Sir Archibald Campbell (d. 1791), who figured in the American war, and was afterwards governor of Jamaica, was a native. In 1796 Thomas Campbell was tutor at the old house of Downie; and the hill of Arichonan, which he is said to have frequented in his leisure hours, still bears the name of 'Poet's Hill.' Malcolm of Poltalloch is the chief proprietor, 1 other holding an annual value of more than £500, and 1 of less than £300. North Knapdale is in the presbytery of Inveraray and synod of Argyll; the living is worth £300, exclusive of manse and glebe. The parish church, at Kilmichael Inverlussa, was built in 1820, and, as recently altered, contains 200 sittings; and Tayvallich chapel of ease, on the other side of Loch Swin, 3 miles distant by sea but 10 by land, was built in 1827, and contains 700 sittings. There is also a Free church; and three public schools-Ashfield, Bellanoch, and Tayvallich-with respective accommodation for 39, 86, and 100 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 14, 54, and 28, and grants of £31, 16s. 3d., £70, 13s., and £37. Valuation (1860) £5638, (1883) £6430, 8s. 10d Pop. (1801) 2401, (1831) 2583, (1861) 1327, (1871) 1059, (1881) 927, of whom 635 were Gaelic-speaking.

Knapdale, South, a parish in Knapdale territorial district, and in Argyll -political district, Argyllshire. It contains the post-town and harbour of ardrishaig, the post-office hamlet of Achahoish, and part of the post-town of Tarbert; and it enjoys from these places regular steamboat communication. Formed out of the large old parish of Knapdale in 1734, it is bounded N by North Knapdale and the Crinan Canal, and S by Kilcalmonell and Kilberry. Its utmost length, from N to S, is 17 miles; its utmost breadth is 7 miles; and its land area is 52,560 acres. Several islets lie off the W coast; and, though uninhabited, afford good pasturage. The E coast, with an extent of 12 miles, presents a slightly undulated shore-line, and a pleasantly-diversified, hilly seaboard. The W coast is distinguished chiefly by the ascent from it of Loch Caolisport up the boundary with North Knapdale; has several fine bays, which afford safe anchorage; and presents shores and seaboard, partly bold and partly gradual. The interior, for the most part, is rough upland. A range, called Sliabach-Goail, extends right across it; contains the highest ground, with mountain elevation above sea-level; and commands one of the most extensive, varied, and grandly picturesque views in Great Britain, from Islay to the Perthshire Grampians, and from Mull and Ben Cruachan to the North of Ireland, with everywhere a crowded intervening space of lofty heights and belts of sea. Other hills, less lofty and interesting, extend parallel to this principal range, and are separated from one another by deep, well-sheltered vales. Burns and torrents are numerous, and the larger ones are subject to such winter floods as render them in many parts impassable. Five or six fresh-water lakes lie in hollows; but, with one or two exceptions, they can be seen only from the summits of the highest hills; and they add very little to the beauty or interest of the landscape. The extent of arable land bears but a small proportion to that of waste and pasture lands, and is very much intersected by hills and marshes. The soil, on some of the low grounds, is loamy; on most of the other arable grounds, is of a mossy nature, incumbent upon sand. Wood, both natural and planted, covers a considerable area. A lead mine was for some time worked on Inverneill estate. Antiquities are remains of three, and the sites of four, pre-Reformation chapels. Mansions, noticed separately, are Auchendarroch, Barmore, Erins, Inverneill, Ormsary, and Stonefield; and 7 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 9 of between £100 and £500, 5 of from £50 to £100, and 30 of from £20 to £50. Giving off the whole of Ardrishaig quoad sacra parish and portions of those of Tarbert and Lochgilphead, South Knapdale is in the presbytery of Inveraray and synod of Argyll; the living is worth £234. There are two parish churches, the one at Achahoish, near the manse; the other at Inverneill, 6 miles distant. Both were built in 1775, and each contains 250 sittings. Free churches are in Ardrishaig, Lochgilphead, and Tarbert; and two public schools, Inverneill and Ormsary, with respective accommodation for 34 and 69 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 17 and 18, and grants of £29, 2s. and £25, 13s. Valuation (1860) £7357, (1883) £13,111, 3s. 11d. Pop. (1801) 1716, (1831) 2137, (1861) 2519, (1871) 2695, (1881) 2536, of whom 1447 were Gaelic-speaking, and 453 were in South Knapdale ecclesiastical parish.

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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