Jura and Colonsay


Jura and Colonsay
   JURA and COLONSAY, a parish, in the district of Islay, county of Argyll; containing 2299 inhabitants. This parish, which is situated to the west of the main land, comprises the islands of Jura, Colonsay, Oronsay, Scarba, Lunga, Balnahuaigh, and Garvelloch, and several small uninhabited islets. The island of Jura, takes its name from the numerous herds of red-deer with which it abounded, and of which many are still preserved. It is separated from the main land by the sound of Jura, which forms its eastern boundary; and from the isle of Islay, by the sound of that name, which bounds it on the south: on the west is the Atlantic Ocean. It is about thirty-six miles in extreme length, and varies from two to nearly eight miles in breadth; the number of acres has not been ascertained. The surface is rugged, and broken by mountains of conical form, of which the three principal, called the Paps of Jura, are, Beinn-aChaolais, Beinn-an-Oir, and Beinn-Shianta. These mountains, of which the highest, Beinn-an-Oir, has an elevation of 2700 feet above the level of the sea, form a conspicuous landmark for mariners; they are seen from a great distance, and are the first points discovered by vessels navigating the Atlantic.
   The coast is rocky and precipitous, and in many places perforated with deep caverns, some of which afford secure shelter. Of these, the most remarkable is Uaghlamaich, on the western coast, of which the entrance is thirty-eight feet above the level of the sea at high tides, and thirty-three feet in height. The interior has an area of 1312 square yards; the floor is smooth, and the roof beautifully arched. So perfectly is this cavern protected, that, during the severest storms, scarcely a breath of wind is felt within it. There are numerous moorland lakes, of which several abound with trout; and from them issue various streams, which, in their course towards the sea, form considerable rivers, wherein trout and salmon are found. Of these rivers, the largest are, the Knockbreck, on which the proprietor, Mr. Campbell, has a salmon-fishery, and the Avin Lussa, in the north of the island: the river Corran has its source in some springs issuing from the mountains, and, flowing eastward, receives different tributaries in its course, and falls into the sound of Jura near Corran House. The shore on the west is deeply indented by Loch Tarbet, an inlet from the sea, which almost divides the island into two parts; and on the eastern shore are several bays, of which Lowland Bay and the bay of Small Isles constitute commodious harbours. The former, two miles and a half in circumference, has an entrance 570 yards in width, and is from five to six fathoms in depth; the latter, which is more capacious, is formed by three small islands, ranging in a line nearly parallel with the coast, and between which are the entrances.
   The soil in the east of the island, in which direction nearly the whole population resides, is stony and shallow along the shore, but on the acclivities, where most of the arable land is situated, of better quality. The crops are, oats, barley, potatoes, and a little flax; the system of agriculture has been improved; much of the land has been drained, and some tracts of moss have been brought into cultivation. The farm-buildings are commodious; and the lands have been inclosed, partly with stone dykes, and partly with hedges of thorn. The cattle, of which about 1200 are annually sold, are of the native black breed: the sheep, of which, also, great numbers are reared in the pastures, are generally the black-faced, with some of the Cheviots, which are increasing in number. The prevailing rocks are of the primitive formation, and the substrata chiefly mica-slate, trap, and whinstone: slate was formerly quarried. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5761. The mansions are, Jura House, the seat of the principal proprietor, a spacious residence, to which splendid additions have been recently made; and Ardlussa, also a handsome mansion, beautifully situated, and surrounded with plantations. The only village is Miltoun, which includes Craighouse; the inhabitants are chiefly employed in weaving, and in the various handicraft trades requisite for the supply of the neighbourhood. There is a neat inn at Craighouse, which has been rebuilt and enlarged. A distillery has been erected, which produces about 700 gallons of whisky per week; and there is likewise a good corn-mill, from which the village takes its name. Facility of intercourse is afforded by several roads and bridges, and by three ferries, on which are staiths for the shipping of cattle: the ferry at Kenuachdrach communicates with Craignish; that of Lagg with North Knapdale, and the ferry of Feoline with Portaskaig. From Feoline to Lagg, a distance of seventeen miles, a government road has been formed, which adds greatly to the means of intercourse; and at the latter place is a sub-office, at which the London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow mails are received from Islay.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Islay and Jura, and synod of Argyll. The minister's stipend is £200, charged with the payment of £50 to an assistant at Colonsay; he has a manse, and a glebe valued at £12 per annum: patron, the Duke of Argyll. The church, erected about the year 1776, is a neat plain structure; the interior has been enlarged and greatly improved by Mr. Campbell, and contains 250 sittings, all of which are free. In the old churchyard is an elegant mausoleum for the Campbell family. There are two schools in Jura, and one in Colonsay, among the three masters of which the parochial salary of £34 is equally divided, the deficiency being made good by Mr. Campbell, who has erected two commodious schoolrooms, with good houses for the two masters, to each of whom he gives a garden and a small portion of land. Two other schools are supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, of which one is at Colonsay. The sick poor are admissible to the infirmary and asylum of Glasgow, through the liberality of Mr. Campbell. Stones of vast dimensions are found along the shores, and in other places; they are supposed to have fallen from the erect position in which they were originally raised in commemoration, it is said, of ancient battles. There are also the ruins of many chapels of early date. In digging the foundation for an inn at Lagg, several stone coffins were found; and in forming the road from Feoline to Lagg, numerous urns, containing ashes, were discovered. Silver coins of the reign of Charles I., also, were found many years since.
   See Colonsay and Oronsay, &c.
   Gilbert and Rivington, Printers, St. John Square, London.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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