Kingarth parish


Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis - 1851

KINGARTH, a parish, in the county of Bute, 8 miles (S. by E.) from Rothesay; containing, with the villages of Kilchattan-Bay, Kerrycroy, and Piperhall, 931 inhabitants. This parish takes its name from the promontory of Garroch Head, forming its extreme point to the south, and called in Gaelic Ceann Garbh, which signifies "stormy head". Very little is known concerning the ancient history of the place; but there are traditions of its having been of considerable importance. Christianity was early introduced here. The name of Saint Catan, or Cathanus, has been transmitted in the appellation of a bay called Kilchattan, " the cell or burial-place of Catan". St. Blane, also, is said to have been born here, and to have been the founder of the original church of Kingarth, the ruins of which, still remaining,are designated by his name, as is likewise a hill ascending from Garroch Head. The parish was anciently the scene of some military conflicts. On the south-west shore is the fort of Dunagoil, " the fortified hill of the Lowlanders," commanding nearly the best landing- place on the whole coast, and having a complete view of the passage from the western seas by Kilbrandon sound, and of the entrance into the Firth of Clyde from the south. Its origin is not known; but it has frequently been attributed to the Danes. The lands of the district were formerly held by several proprietors called Barons, who are at present represented by only four owners of small portions of ground, the larger part of the parish being the property of the Stuart family. Marquesses of Bute.

Kingarth is six miles and a half in length from north to south, and two and a half in mean breadth, containing 8325 acres. It is situated in the isle of Bute, and is bounded on the north-west by the loch of Ascog, a part of Loch Fad, and Quien loch, which separate it from the parish of Rothesay; and on the east, south, and south-west by the Firth of Clyde. Its figure is irregular, and the shore is indented by several small bays. There is a gradual narrowing of the parish from its northwestern boundary till it becomes an isthmus a mile and a half in breadth, beyond which is a peninsula two miles in length, terminating in the promontory of Garroch Head. On the east and south the coast is rocky and precipitous; on the south-west it rises more gently. It is marked by the bays of Ascog, Scoulag, and Kilchattan, to the east; and of Scalpsie, Stravanan, and Dunagoil, to the south-west. The firth is eight miles wide between Scoulag bay and the nearest point of Ayrshire at Largs, and nine miles wide between Dunagoil bay and the nearest part of the island of Arran; it is ninety fathoms deep between Garroch Head and Little Cumbray, where its depth is greatest. In general the land is considerably elevated above the level of the sea: the principal hills arc Suidhe-Chatain, "the seat of Catan", 520 feet high, and Saint Blane's hill, 486 feet high. The loch of Ascog, Quien loch, and Loch Fad cover respectively seventy-five, sixty-nine, and 170 acres. Though moist, the climate is mild and salubrious.

For the most part the soil is light and gravelly, but in some places loam and clay are to be found. About 3936 acres are occasionally under tillage; 3071 are moor and pasture; and 940 acres are occupied by wood, natural and planted, the latter consisting of spruce, larch, and Scotch firs, oak, and other hard-woods. All kinds of grain, and the usual green crops, are grown. The cattle are chiefly of the Ayrshire breed, to the rearing of which great attention has been lately paid: the sheep, also, are tolerably numerous. The modern system of husbandry is followed, and improvements in every department have been rapidly advancing for the last fifteen years: most of the farm-houses have been rebuilt, and the grounds inclosed chiefly with thorn-hedges. In this parish the prevailing rock is the old red sandstone, with conglomerate, and numerous veins and beds of trap: coal exists, but it is not wrought, and some lime-works are in operation. The annual value of real property in the parish is £3954. The mansion-house of Mountstuart, built by James, second Earl of Bute, in 1718, is surrounded by beautiful and extensive plantations, and is particularly famed for its choice flower-garden. On the east coast stands Ascog House, with several ornamental villas lately erected. In the year 1703, the first Earl of Bute obtained a charter from the crown for the erection of a burgh of regality, to be named Mountstuart, with the privilege of holding a weekly market, exercising handicraft trades, and having three annual fairs. This charter, however, was never carried into effect, the thriving burgh of Rothesay, with which the parish chiefly communicates, superseding the necessity. The roads are in good order, and the bridges sufficient for general convenience. There is a wharf at Kilchattan- Bay, and another at Scoulag bay, adapted for small craft. The shipping belonging to the parish does not exceed fifty tons; but craft of considerable burthen from other parts frequent the ports for the purposes of importation and exportation. The fisheries are productive.

For ECCLESIASTICAL matters the parish is within the limits of the presbytery of Dunoon and synod of Argyll; patrons, the Stuart family. Marquesses of Bute. The stipend is £197, with a good manse and offices, and a glebe of nearly eleven acres, worth about £12 per annum. Kingarth church was built in 1S26, and contains 600 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship at Ascog. The parochial school affords instruction in Latin and Greek, with the usual branches; the master has the minimum salary, the legal accommodations, and £24 fees. In this parish the antiquities consist of two barrows or tumuli, a Druidical circle, the fort of Dunagoil, and the ruin of the church of St. Blane, who flourished about the close of the tenth century. The last stands on an artificial elevation, which is inclosed by a wall of massive stones piled one over another, 500 feet in circumference, the whole of the space having mason-work underneath at a distance of two feet from the surface. A considerable portion of the walls of the church still remains, and displays architecture of great antiquity. The parish confers the titles of Viscount Kingarth and Baron Mountstuart upon the Marquess of Bute.