Ardchattan

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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Ardchattan (Gael. ` height of St Catan '), a large highland parish in the Lorn district of Argyllshire, lying npon both sides of Loch Etive. On the Oban and Callander railway, opened in July 1880, it has the station of Loch Awe at the foot of Ben Cruachan, 70¾ miles WNW of Callander, and 22 E by S of Oban. It is bounded E and SE by Glenorchy; S and SW by Loch Awe, the river Awe, and the lower waters of Loch Etive, which separate it from Muckairn; W by Loch Linnhe; and NW and N by Loch and Glen Creran and the parish of Lismore and Appin. From its NE angle near Stob Dearg to Ledaig Point in the extreme SW it measures 24¾ miles, its width from E to W varies between 4 and 20 miles; and its area is roughly estimated at nearly 400 square miles. The whole almost of this area is wildly mountainous, at more than forty points exceeding 2000, and at fourteen 3000, feet above the level of the sea. The summits to the E of Loch and Glen Etive are generally somewhat loftier than those of the western half, including, from N to S, Sron Creise (2952 feet), Beinn Mhic Chasgaig (2766), Clach Leathad (3602), Stob Dubh (2897), Meall Odhar (2875), Meall Tarsuinn (2871), Stob Coir an Albannaich (3425), Glas Bheinn Mhor (3258), Ben Starav (3541), Meall Dubh (2239), Stob an Duine Ruaidh (2624), Beinn nan Aighean (3141), Beinn Suidhe (2215), Beinn nan Lus (2327), Meall Beidh (2237), Beinn Lurachan (2346), Meall Copagach (2656), Beinn Eùnaich (3242), Aonach Breac (2395), Beinn a' Chochnill (3215), Beinn a Bhuiridh (2935), and Ben Cruachan (3611). In the western portion, however, are Stob nan Cabar (2547 feet), Stob Dearg (3345), Bnchaille (3120), Bidean nam Bran (3766), Beinn Maol Chalium (2967), Sgor na h'Ulaidh (3258), Beinn Fhionnlaidh (3139), Beinn Sguliaird (3058), Beinn Trilleachan (2752), Meall Garbh (2400), Beinn Bhreac (2324), Beinn Molurgainn (2270), Meall Dearg (1897), Beinn Mheadhonach (2344), and Beinn Duirinnis (1821). The extreme south-western district, beyond Gleann Salach, and between Loch Creran, Loch Linnhe, and the foot of Loch Etive, is level comparatively, its only summits being Na Maoilean (1145 feet), Beinn Lora (1007), and Sgor Mòr (722). Arable lands lie on both sides of the Benderloch range, in Glenure, and in a few other spots of the west and north; but, as to their main aggregate, they commence below Barcaldine House, extend thence, by Shian Ferry, Lochnell House, and Keil, onward to Connel Ferry, and stretch thence eastward, with partial interruptions, to the ferry over Loch Etive opposite Bnnawe. The chief streams are the Awe, along the boundary from Loch Awe to Loch Etive, and the Etive, the Kinglass, the Liver, the Noe, the Creran, the Ure, the Bnie, the Teithil, and the Dearg, running along the glens. Two cascades are on the Etive at Dalness and Coileitir; two others, rather cataracts than falls, of very great depth, are on wild torrents of Buchaille-Etive; and a number of others are on burns or torrents descending from other mountains. Several fresh-water lakes lie in various parts, none of them of great extent, but most of them well stocked with trout. Perennial springs are everywhere abundant, and afford constant supplies of the purest water. The rocks are chiefly granite, mica-slate, and porphyry, but include at one place a stratum of coarse marble. The soil of the arable lands is principally a light loam on a gravelly bottom. Caledonian antiquities are numerous, especially stone circles and standing stones. A famous Dalriadic antiquity is at Dunmacsniochan, and will be noticed under Berigonium. Grandly situated on Loch Etive, 4 miles NW of Taynuilt, are the ruins of St Modan's priory, founded in 1231 by Duncan McDowell or MacDougal of Lorn, for monks of the order of Vallis Caulium. Little remains but the First Pointed choir, 66 feet by 28, with a north aisle or chapel, a piscina under a tooth-moulded arch, and fragments of massive piers suggesting a central tower. The sculptured tombstones of two priors, members of the MacDougal family, bear date 1500 and 1502. Here in 1308 Robert Bruce is said to have held a parliament, the last in which Gaelic was the language spoken; in 1644 the Macdonalds burned the priory, under their leader Colkitto. Only the prior's lodge escaped,-massive, high-roofed Ardchattan House, to the SW of the church (E. C. Batten, Beauly Priory, with notices of the Priories of Pluscardine and Ardchattan, Grampian Club, 1877). Ardchattan House is the seat of Mrs Popham, owner in the shire of 8000 acres of £1342 annual value; and two other principal mansions, Lochnell and Barcaldine, belong to Duncan Campbell, Esq., and Mrs Mary Cameron, who own respectively 39,000 and 20,000 acres, valued at £6801 and £2079 per annum. United quoad civilia to Muckairn, Ardchattan forms by itself a quoad sacra parish in the presbytery of Lorn and synod of Argyll; its minister's income is £341. The old ruined parish church stands ¾ mile N of the Priory at Balmodan or Balimhaodan (` St Modan's town '), a name that records the mission to Lorn, in connection with the Roman party, of SS. Modan and Ronan, early in the 8th century. The present church, 3 miles to the W, was built in 1836, and contains 430 sittings; and the chapelries of Glencoe and Glencreran fall mainly within Ardchattan parish, which also has a Free church, on Loch Creran, 8 miles NNW of the parish church. Three public schools, Barcaldine, Glenetive, and Lochnell, with respective accommodation for 60, 25, and 85 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 24, 15, and 50, and grants of £31,11s., £28, and £16, 10s. Valuation of Ardchattan Muckairn (1881) £15,190, 10s. Pop. (1831) 2420, (1861) 2346, (1871) 1962, (1881) 2221, of whom 1390 were in Ardchattan.—Ord. Sur., shs. 45,53,1876-77. See pp. 141-158 of Dorothy Wordsworth's Tour in Scotland (ed. by Princ. Shairp, 1874), P. G. Hamerton's A Painter's Camp in the Highlands (1862; 2d ed. 1868), and an article in the Cornhill for Jan. 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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