Kilmartin

   KILMARTIN, a parish, in the district and county of Argyll, 7½ miles (N. N. W.) from Lochgilphead; containing 1233 inhabitants. This place, which is supposed, like many others, to have derived its name from the founder of its ancient church, formed part of the possessions of the Campbell family, of whose baronial residence, Duntroon Castle, there are still considerable remains. The parish, which is bounded on the north-east by Loch Awe, on the north-west by Loch Craignish, and on the south-west by Loch Crinan, is about twelve miles in length and three and a half in breadth, comprising 24,530 acres, of which 3456 are arable, 400 meadow, 1200 woodland and plantations, and the remainder rough pasture and waste. The surface, towards the north-east, for some miles along the shore of Loch Awe, rises abruptly from the margin of the lake to an elevation of 1000 feet, from which it descends precipitously in the direction of Loch Craignish, forming a continuous ridge of hills, of which the highest, Benvan, adjoining the hill of Kilmartin, is 1200 feet above the level of the sea. The beautiful valley of Kilmartin extends from within a mile of Loch Awe, for nearly three miles, towards the west, between lofty hills ascending perpendicularly from their base. Not far from its termination at the village, it expands into a level plain almost 6000 acres in extent. Throughout the windings of the vale may be traced the channel of a large river, through which the waters of Loch Awe anciently discharged themselves into the bay of Crinan; and in several parts are terraces rising to a height of fifty or sixty feet above the level of the valley, supposed to have been formed by the river in its course.
   The soil is generally a light friable mould, alternated in some parts with tracts of greater depth and fertility; the chief crops are, oats, bear, and barley, with turnips and potatoes, for which last the soil is more especially adapted. The system of husbandry is in an advancing state; draining is extensively practised, and tiles for that purpose are made in the vale of Kilmartin, where good clay is found. Great quantities of waste land have been reclaimed and brought into cultivation on the Poltalloch estate. The cattle are of the West Highland breed, with a few of the Ayrshire, Galloway, and Durham breeds, to the improvement of which much attention is paid; about 2000 head of all kinds are pastured in the parish. The sheep, of which 9000 are reared on the several farms, are of the black-faced native breed, with some of the Cheviot, Leicestershire, and South Down breeds, which have been recently introduced. The plantations are, ash, oak, birch, alder, hazel, larch, poplar, beech, plane, lime, holly, elm, and Scotch and silver firs, all of which are in a very thriving state. The substrata are chiefly mica and chlorite slate, with veins of crystalline limestone and hornblende: copper-ore has also been found, and was formerly worked, but with what success is uncertain. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5852. Kilmartin House is a handsome mansion, pleasantly situated about half a mile from the village, and the remains of the ancient castle of Duntroon have been repaired, and formed into a comfortable residence. The village has been entirely rebuilt within the last few years, and consists of substantial and neat cottages roofed with slate, to each of which is attached a garden and shrubbery, inclosed with railings. Large markets for the sale of horses and hiring of servants are held in the village, on the first Thursday in March and the fourth Thursday in November; and at the Ford, near Loch Awe, on the first Thursdays in August and September, at which considerable sales of lambs, sheep, and wool take place. A private runner brings letters daily from the post-office at Lochgilphead; and facility of communication is afforded by good roads, and by steamers from Lochgilphead to Glasgow and the intermediate ports, daily in winter, and twice in the day during the summer. There is an excellent harbour at Loch Crinan, which is much frequented by vessels taking shelter in stormy weather.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Inverary and synod of Argyll. The minister's stipend is £189, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £15 per annum; patron, the Duke of Argyll. The church, erected in 1835, is a handsome structure in the early English style of architecture, with a square embattled tower, and contains 520 sittings: divine service is performed both in the English and Gaelic language. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, in addition to the fees. There are two other schools at the extremities of the parish, for younger children, who, from its distance, are unable to attend the parochial school: Mr. Malcolm gives a salary to the masters. A school of industry for girls has recently been established within a mile of Kilmartin, for the tenants on the Poltalloch estate, and for which Mr. Malcolm has built a handsome house, at a cost of £1000: in addition to the usual routine of instruction, the children are taught all the most useful branches of needle-work, knitting, and laundry-work. In the valley of Kilmartin, are several large circular cairns, in which have been found stone coffins about four feet in length, containing ashes and human bones; and in one of them were some silver coins of Ethelred, and in others implements of war. Near the cairns are numerous upright stones. Not far from Duntroon is an ancient circular building of great thickness, inclosing a large area, into which is only one narrow entrance, and which is supposed to have been a place of safety for cattle and other property in times of danger. On an eminence to the north of the village are the ruins of the old castle of Kilmartin; and at the head of the valley are the remains of the castle of Carnassary, the residence of Bishop Carswell, who was appointed to the see of Argyll soon after the Reformation, and whose name is intimately associated with the controversy that was subsequently carried on respecting the authenticity of Ossian's poems.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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