- 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, of which the ruins, still remaining, are designated by his name, as is a hill ascending from Garroch Head. The parish was anciently the scene, too, 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 view of the passage from the western seas by Kilbrannan sound, and of the entrance into the Frith 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 Marquess of Bute.Kingarth is six and a half miles 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 Frith of Clyde. Its figure is irregular. The shore is indented by several small bays; and the parish is marked by a gradual narrowing from its north-western 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. The coast on the east and south 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 frith 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. The land in general is considerably elevated above the level of the sea: the principal hills are 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. The climate, though moist, is mild and salubrious.The soil in general is light and gravelly, though 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 under wood, both natural and planted, the latter consisting of spruce, larch, Scotch fir, 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 recently paid: the sheep, also, are tolerably numerous. The modern system of husbandry is followed, and the improvements in every department have been rapidly advancing for the last ten or twelve years: most of the farm-houses have been rebuilt, and the grounds inclosed chiefly with thorn-hedges. The prevailing rock is the old red sandstone, with conglomerate, and numerous veins and beds of trap: coal exists, but is not wrought, and some limeworks are in operation. The rateable annual value of 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 recently 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. The provisions of this charter, however, were 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.The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Dunoon and synod of Argyll; patron, the Marquess of Bute. The stipend is £197, with a good manse and offices, and a glebe of nearly eleven acres, worth about £12 per annum. The church was built in 1826, and contains 600 sittings, all of which are free. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school affords instruction in Latin and Greek, with the usual branches; the master has the legal accommodations, with the minimum salary, and £24 fees. The antiquities of the parish 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. This parish confers the titles of Viscount Kingarth and Baron Mountstuart upon the Marquess of Bute.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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