Parish of Glenelg

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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1791-99: Glenelg
1834-45: Glenelg

Glenelg, a coast village and parish of NW Inverness-shire. The village stands on a small bay of its own name at the head of Sleat Sound, 3 miles SSE of KyleRhea ferry, 43 WNW of Invergarry, and 7 S by W of Lochalsh, under which it has a post office. Occupying a picturesque site in the mouth of a grand glen, it comprises a principal street of slated houses, and numerous thatched cottages; is embellished with interspersed trees and adjacent plantation; contains a good inn and some well-stocked shops; enjoys facility of communication by West Coast steamers, touching at its new quay of 1881 ; and has fairs on the Fridays after the last Tuesday of May and the third Tuesdays of August and September. It gave, in 1835, the title of Baron, in the peerage of the United Kingdom, to the distinguished statesman, Charles Grant (1778-1866). Glenelg Bay, of small extent, lies open to the W, yet affords good anchorage in easterly winds ; but a better harbour, on the Skye side of the Sound, 1 ½ mile distant, affords shelter in all winds. A fortitied barrack, erected in 1722 at Bernera, near Glenelg village, was commonly occupied by one or two companies of infantry till 1745, and is now a ruin. A road goes from the village eastwards towards Glenshiel, passes over the mountain MamRattachan, and commands a very grand view ; another goes south-eastward to the head of Loch Hourn, leads off thence towards Inverness, strikes towards the Pass of Corryvarligan (2000 feet), and there commands a most impressive view.

The parish, containing also the village of Arnisdale and the hamlet of Inverie, comprises the three districts of Glenelg proper, Knoydart, and North Morar. It is bounded NE and E by a lofty water-shed which divides it from Ross-shire; SE and S by lofty water-sheds, which divide it from the heads of Glengarry and Glenarchaig in Lochaber ; SW by Loch Morar, which divides it from Arasaig in Ardnamurchan; and NW by Sleat Sound, which divides it from Skye. Its utmost length, from NE to SW, is 22 miles; its utmost breadth in the opposite direction is 15 miles ; and its land area is 134,778 acres. The coast, along Sleat Sound, is about co-extensive both with that sound and with the greatest length of the parish; and, except in Glenelg Bay, is generally high and rocky. Loch Hourn divides Glenelg proper from Knoydart; Loch Nevis divides Knoydart from Morar; and both lochs have strikingly grand scenery, and contain good anchoring ground, but they, and the districts of Knoydart and Morar, are separately noticed. Fresh-water lakes are numerous, and well supplied with trout; but none challenge notice for either extent or character. Glenelg proper comprises two glens, Glenmore and Glenbeg, each watered by a streamlet of its own, and the former extends north-westward to Glenelg Bay, has few or no trees except at the foot, and is clothed with green pasture to the very summit of its hill-screens; while the latter has been separately noticed. The inhabitants, in all the districts, are mostly congregated on the coasts. The principal rocks are gneiss, mica slate, quartzite, hornblende slate, granite, syenite, serpentine, and limestone. The serpentine includes veins of asbestos and amianthus; the limestone occurs in beds, but is not worked; and the other rocks contain actinolite, tremolite, and some other rare minerals. The soil, in the arable parts of Glenelg proper, is loamy and fertile; but in those of Knoydart, is much lighter. About 1000 acres are regularly or occasionally in tillage; about 2000 acres are under wood; and a very large area is richly pastoral for either black cattle or sheep. The only mansion is Inverie; the principal large farm-houses are Ellanreach, Beolary, and Barrisdale; and the chief antiquities are two Scandinavian dunes in Glenbeg, and vestiges of two others in Glenmore. Three proprietors bold each an annual value of more, and 2 of less, than £500. In the presbytery of Lochcarron and synod of Glenelg, this parish is divided ecclesiastically into Glenelg and Knoydart, the former a living worth £346. Its church contains 400 sittings; and in the churchyard is a granite obelisk, erected in 1876 to the memory of the Rev. John Macrae, for 35 years parish minister. Other places of worship are Knoydart quoad sacra church, Glenelg Free church, and two Roman Catholic churches - Knoydart (1850; 300 sittings) and Bracara (1837; 250 sittings). Six public schools - Arnisdale, Brinacory, Earir, Glasnacardock, Glenelg, and Inverie - with total accommodation for 271 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 167, and grants amounting to £229, 18s. 6d. Valuation (1860) £7268, (1882) £10, 802, 8s. 9d., of which £5031 was held by Evan Baillie, Esq. of Doch four. Pop. of civil parish (1801) 2834, (1831) 2874, (1861) 1843, (1871) 1653, (1881) 1601, of whom 1453 were Gaelic-speaking; of ecclesiastical parish (1871) 1154, (1881) 1164; of registration district (1881) 658.—Ord. Sur., shs. 71, 72, 61, 62, 1878-83.

The synod of Glenelg, meeting at Kyleakin on the second Wednesday of July, comprises the presbyteries of Lochcarron, Abertarff, Skye, Uist, and Lewis. Pop. (1871) 88,211, (1881) 89,189, of whom 1534 were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878. - There is also a Free Church synod of Glenelg, which, meeting alternately at Lochalsh and Portree on the second Wednesday of April, comprises the presbyteries of Lochcarron, Abertarff, Skye and Uist, and Lewis, 39 of whose 48 churches had 22,553 members and adherents in 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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