- KILDALTON, a parish, in Islay district, county of Argyll, 14 miles (E. by S.) from Bowmore; containing, with Port-Ellen and the late quoad sacra district of Oa, 3315 inhabitants, of whom 904 are in the village of Port-Ellen. This parish, which is supposed to have taken its name from one of the step-sons of the Macdonalds, who was buried in the church, is situated in the south-eastern portion of the isle of Islay, and is bounded on the north-east by the sound of Islay, and on the south-west by the Atlantic Ocean. It is twenty-four miles in length and seven in breadth; the number of acres has not been ascertained, and only a very small portion of the parish is arable. The surface is broken by a range of hills extending from south-west to northeast, and increasing in elevation towards the sound of Islay; of these, Benvigory and Mc Arthur's Head are the highest. To the north-west of the hills is a large extent of level ground, gradually coming into cultivation; and the valleys, which intersect the parish from east to west, are in general fertile, yielding good crops of oats, barley, and potatoes. There are numerous excellent springs in various places, but no rivers of any importance; also several small lakes, in most of which are found trout of large size, and in some pike. The coast extends for more than fifty miles; it is in general low and rocky, and is indented with bays, of which the principal are, Port-Ellen, Lagamhulin, Lochknock, Lochintallin, Ardmore, Kenture, Aross, Claigean, Ardtealla, and Proaig. The most prominent headlands are, Mc Arthur's Head on the north, Ardmore Point on the east, and the Mull of Oa on the south. In different parts, the rocks are perforated with caverns of romantic appearance, of which one is about 300 feet in circumference, and nearly 200 feet in depth: the sea flows into this cavern through two apertures, of which one is a lofty arch of considerable span, and the other a narrow fissure in the rock. There are also numerous small islands near the coast, the chief of which are, Texa, Ellan-nan-Caorach, Ellain-Imersay, the Ardelisters, and a cluster of islands in the bay of Ardmore.The soil is extremely various. The system of agriculture is improving; and within the last few years considerable tracts of land have been brought into cultivation under the auspices of the proprietor, W. F. Campbell, Esq., of Islay, who has also formed plantations of large extent. These consist of oak, ash, fir, plane, horse-chesnut, and beech, which are all in a thriving state; and in the north-east of the parish are many acres of brushwood. Numbers of black-cattle of the native breed, and sheep, are reared in the pastures; and great attention is paid to their improvement. The rateable annual value of the parish is £4562. The principal substrata are, slate and granite, of which the rocks are composed, whinstone, and limestone; and in some parts indications of ironstone are observed, with appearances of lead and copper ore; but the slate and limestone only are wrought. A neat shooting-lodge has been recently erected by Mr. Campbell, in which he occasionally resides during the season. There are five distilleries, employing about forty persons. Fairs for black-cattle are held at Port-Ellen, in the beginning of June, July, August, September, and November; and a runner from the post-office at Bowmore conveys letters regularly to a receiving-house at Lagamhulin.The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Islay and Jura and synod of Argyll. The minister's stipend is £158. 6. 8., of which two-thirds are paid from the exchequer, with a gratuity of £5 from the heritor, a manse, and a glebe valued at £25 per annum; patron, the Crown. The church, situated nearly in the centre of the parish, is a neat structure, erected in 1816, and enlarged in 1830, and contains 600 sittings, all of which are free. A church has been built at Oa, in the south-west. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £25, with a house and garden, and the fees average £10 per annum. A school is supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, who allow the master a salary of £16, with a house and some land; and there is also a school, to the master of which the Gaelic Society pay £20. The poor have the interest of a bequest of £100 by Major Mc Neill. Near the ruins of the old church are two crosses of grey granite, one of which is richly ornamented with sculpture; there are also remains of several churches, consisting chiefly of the roofless walls. Vestiges of ancient forts may be seen at the Mull of Oa, near Port-Ellen, and at the bay of Lagamhulin. The first is supposed to have been erected by the Danes, and was one of the last of the strongholds of the Macdonalds; the fort near Lagamhulin is called Dun-naom-haig, and is thought to have been built by the Macdonalds.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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