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Saddell and Skipness

"Saddell and Skipness, a parish on the E side of Kintyre peninsula, Argyllshire, formed from the parishes of Killean and Kilcalmonell in 1753. It contains the village of Carradale, 13 miles N by E of Campbeltown and 22 S by E of Tarbert, with a post and telegraph office and an Hotel; other villages being Saddell, 4 miles S by W, and Skipness, 15⅝ N by E, of Carradale. It is bounded NE by the lower waters of Loch Fyne, E by Kilbrannan Sound, SW by Campbeltown, W by Killean and Kilcalmonell, and NW by Kilcalmonell. Its utmost length, from NNE to SSW, is 24¼ miles; its breadth varies between 1¾ and 5 miles, whilst tapering northward and Southward to a point; and its area is 74½ square miles or 47,663¾ acres, of which 300⅔ are water, 480⅞ foreshore, and 10¼ tidal water. The coast, extending 6¼ miles South-South-eastward and Southward along Loch Fyne to Skipness Point, and thence 24¼ miles South-South-westward along Kilbrannan Sound, is indented by only one good sized inlet, Carradale Bay; projects but one considerable headland, Carradale Point (133 feet high); and mostly rises steeply from the sea to a height of over 100 feet. Of seventeen streams that run to Kilbrannan Sound much the largest is Carradale Water, others being Skipness, Claonaig, and Saddell Waters; whilst of fifteen small fresh-water lakes the chief are Lochs Romain (4 x 1 furl.; 542 feet) and Tana (2⅛ x 1 furl.; 605 feet). The surface is hilly everywhere, in places mountainous, the principal summits from N to S being Cruach Doire Leithe (1236 feet), Coire nan Capull (1095), Fuar Larach (886), Creag Mhor (741), Cnoc an Samhlaidh (866), Deucharan Hill (1081), Cnoc nan Gabhar (753), Beinn Bhreac (1398), Meall Donn (1138), Ben an Tuirc (1491), Cnocmalavilach (853), and Bord Mor (1338). Of these, Ben an Tuirc, whose height in many works is wrongly given as 2170 feet, commands a magnificent view of seven Scottish and two Irish counties, from Corsill Point in Wigtownshire to Ben More in Mull and Ben Lomond in Stirlingshire. The hills are neither steep, barren, nor rocky, but generally covered with an intermixture of grass and heath; and, rising regularly and with easy ascent from the shore, they have flat summits, or stretch away into small tablelands. The glens, all running from NW to SE, usually open, at their lower ends, upon beautiful little bays; and they enjoy so great a degree of heat, and such happy visitations of fertilising showers, as are highly favourable to agriculture. A stranger traversing the parish lengthwise along the road is presented with a great variety of land and sea views, and alternately moves along a delightful bank overlooking the sea and Buteshire, and suddenly descends into pleasant woods and valleys. Mica slate, intersected with quartzite and basaltic veins, is the predominant rock; and granite occurs in large boulders. The soil in the bottom of the glens is a fine alluvium; that of the higher arable lands is light and sandy. At Saddell village, near the right bank of Saddell Water, stand the tree-embowered ruins of Saddell Abbey. Its cruciform minster measured 136 by 24 feet, or 78 across the transept; and the cloister-garth to the S was 58 feet square; but little remains save portions of the choir wall and the N transept. In the churchyard are some most interesting sculptured effigies; and hard by is a holy well. The abbey of 'Saghadul' or Saddell was founded for Cistercian monks by Ragnall or Reginald, the second son of Somerled, who himself is styled King of the Isles and Argyll, and who died in 1207. It made peace with Haco of Norway in 1263, and in 1507 was, with all its possessions, annexed by James IV. to the bishopric of Argyll. Saddell Castle, 3 furlongs SSE, at the head of Saddell Bay, is a large square battlemented tower. Hither Ragnall's great-grandson, Angus Og, is said to have welcomed Robert Bruce in 1306, after the defeats of Methven and Dalry. Other antiquities, besides those noticed under Carradale and Skipness, are several cairns, tumuli, and hillforts. Opposite Saddell Castle stands Saddell or Glensaddell House, the seat of John Neil Macleod, Esq. of Kintarbert (suc. 1883), who holds 12,805 acres in the shire, valued at £2935 per annum. Other mansions, noticed separately, are Carradale House, Cour, Skipness Castle, and Torrisdale Castle; and four proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards. In the presbytery of Kintyre and the synod of Argyll, this parish since 1871 has been ecclesiastically divided into Saddell and Skipness, the former a living worth £200. Saddell parish church, at Carradale village, was built about 1771, and contains 354 sittings. There is a Free Church mission station of Carradale and Skipness; and four public schools-Carradale, Saddell, Skipness, and Sperasaig-with respective accommodation for 63, 48, 60, and 30 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 56, 21, 34, and 13, and grants of £62, 1s., £31, 8s., £46, 9s., and £24, 4s. 6d. Valuation (1860) £6621, (1885) £8586, 17s. 9d. Pop. (1801) 1767, (1831) 2152, (1861) 1227, (1871) 1153, (1881) 1163, of whom 789 were Gaelic-speaking, and 686 were in Saddell ecclesiastical parish.—Ord. Sur.., shs. 20, 21, 29, 12, 1870-76."

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


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    Year Population
    1801 1767
    1831 2152
    1861 1227
    1871 1153
    1881 1163
    1891 1156