MORVERN

"Morvern or Morven, a parish of NW Argyllshire, containing a post office of its own name under Oban, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments. It forms a peninsula, extending south-westward between Lochs Suinart and Linnhe to the Sound of Mull, and connected with the district of Ardgour by an isthmus of 6 miles. With a roughly triangular outline, it is bounded NW by Loch Suinart, N by Loch Suinart, Ardnamurchan, and Kilmallie, SE by Loch Linnhe, and SW by the Sound of Mull, which divides it from the island of Mull. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 20 miles; its utmost breadth is 15 miles; and its area is 141 square miles or 90,737 acres. It comprises also the small islands of Oronsay and Carna, in Loch Suinart; and its extent of coast-line, even exclusive of these, is little short of 100 miles. A chain of lakes, partly marine and partly fresh-water, commencing with Loch Teacuis on the NW, and terminating with Loch Aline in the S, nearly isolates most of the district lying along the Sound of Mull from the upper and much the larger district, the Braes of Morvern. Streams and torrents are everywhere numerous; and here and there are fine cascades and other interesting features of water scenery. The general surface, however, is bleak, tame, heathy upland. Its highest summits are Glashven (1516 feet) in the SE, Beneaddan (1873) in the N, Beinn Mheadoin (2423) in the E, and Fuar Bheinn (2800) on the Ardnamurchan boundary. Several others of its mountains, also, have a considerable altitude; but all are destitute of what writers on landscape call character, and, when seen in connection with the bold ranges of Appin and Mull, look very uninteresting. Yet there are portions of the parish which present very striking features. Much of its seaboard along the Sound of Mull is highly picturesque; and the valley of Unimore, occupied by the chain of lakes from Loch Teacuis to Loch Aline, overhung on one side by a range of high precipitous rocks, on the other by Beneaddan, is one of the most brilliant pieces of scenery in the Highlands, blending together nearly all styles of landscape from the gently beautiful to the terribly sublime. Professor Wilson pronounced this valley no less than ' an abyss of poetry, ' exclaiming also,

 

'Morvern and mor, and spring and solitude,
In front is not the scene magnificent?
Beauty nowhere owes to ocean
A lovelier haunt than this! Loch Unimore!
A name in its wild sweetness to our ear
Fitly Denoting a dream-world of peace! '

 

Less than one-twentieth of the entire area is in tillage; little more than one-thirtieth is under wood; and the rest is either pastoral or waste. Much of the arable land lies along the Sound of Mull, either on rapid declivities, or at a considerable elevation above the sea. The soil in general is a poor, light, open earth, in places intermixed with gravel and small stones. The woods extend chiefly along the side of Loch Suinart, round the shores of Loch Aline, and in the SW district adjacent to the junction of Loch Linnhe with the Sound of Mull. A predominant rock is gneiss, originally covered by a deposit of secondary rocks, consisting of limestone and sandstone, with coal occasionally interspersed - a deposit overwhelmed by trap, which in its turn has been much abraded and worn away. The situation of the coal is, on certain occasions, very remarkable; and occurring as it does on the summits of primary mountains of great elevation, it is quite fitted to startle a geologist nearly as much as a coal surveyor. Sandstone of excellent building quality has been quarried at Loch Aline and Artornish. Lead ore was formerly mined at Lurg in Glendubh, a glen which runs parallel to Loch Suinart; and copper ore was mined at Ternate, on the estate of Artornish. Three interesting old castles are noticed under Artornish, Loch Aline, and Killundine. There are, on the seacoasts, remains of several small forts, which were probably erected in the times of the Danish invasions. Of several tumuli, one, Carn-na-Caillich, or the 'old wife's cairn, ' is a lofty pile of loose stones, 243 feet in circumference. On elevated spots, in various parts of the parish, but especially along the coast of the Sound of Mull, are Druidical circles of various diameters, but in no instance exceeding 24 feet. Dunfhinn, Fingal's fort or hill, situated on the farm of Fiunarg, and now part of the glebe, is a curious round rock of considerable height, very steep, yet partly covered on the sides with greensward, and washed at the base by a frolicsome stream which moves between high banks, and leaps along in little cataracts. The area on the top of the hill measures about half a rood, bears evident marks of having been encircled by a wall, and commands an extensive prospect. A village was formed some years ago at Loch Aline, and a new and substantial pier was built near it in 1883; so that now this locality is a seat of trade to the parish; yet Tobermory and Oban, the former about 4 miles distant from the nearest point of the parish, are still convenient resorts for marketing. Norman Macleod, D.D. (1783-1862), was a son of the parish minister; and his son, Norman Macleod, D.D. (1812-72), has given a vivid description of Morvern in his Recollections of a Highland Parish (1868). Mansions, noticed separately, are Loch Aline House, Drimnin, and Killundine; and 8 proprietors hold each an annual value of 500 and upwards. Giving off portions to Aharacle and Strontian quoad sacra parishes, Morvern is in the presbytery of Mull and the synod of Argyll; the living is worth 314. The present parish comprises the ancient parishes of Kiltuintaik and Kilcolumkill, united, it is believed, shortly after the Reformation. There are two parish churches, belonging respectively to the two ancient parishes, and both situated on the coast, 9 miles from each other. That of Kiltuintaik, the 'cell of Winifred,' was built in 1780, and contains 300 sittings; while that of Kilcolumkill, the 'church of the cell of Columba,' was built in 1799, and contains 500 sittings. The minister preaches in them alternately, and also preaches occasionally at places in the inland districts of the parish. There are also a mission under the royal bounty for part of Morvern, a Free church, and Drimnin Roman Catholic church of St Columba (1833; 80 sittings). Four public schools - Bunavullin, Claggan, Kinloch, and Loch Aline - with respective accommodation for 55, 68, 40, and 64 children, had (1883) an average attendance of 13, 17, 21, and 25, and grants of 27, 16s. 6d., 30, 19s. 6d., 34, 19s. 6d., and 37, 0s. 6d. Valuation (1860) 6374, (1884) 8676, 17s. Pop. (1801) 2083, (1831) 2137, (1861) 1226, (1871) 973, (1881) 828, of whom 714 were Gaelic-speaking, and 758 in the ecclesiastical parish. Moss, an estate, with a mansion, in Killearn parish, SW Stirlingshire, 1 mile SSW of Killearn village, and 4 miles SSW of Balfron. See Killearn."

Extract from Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4)

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Population

Year Population
1801 2083
1831 2137
1861 1226
1881 828
1891 820

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