Parish of North 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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1791-99: North Knapdale
1834-45: North Knapdale

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.

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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