Luss

   LUSS, a parish, in the county of Dumbarton; containing 1052 inhabitants, of whom 309 are in the village, 9 miles (N. N. E.) from Helensburgh. The name of this parish is derived from a Gaelic word signifying a "plant" or "herb," and probably applied from the circumstance of the river of Luss, or rather the valley through which it flows, being once overspread with shrubs. The most remote historical facts connected with the place relate to St. Mackessog, a native of Lennox, who was a bishop and confessor, and suffered martyrdom here in the year 520: he was buried in the church, which was dedicated to him; and from him, also, a cairn in the southern part of Luss was afterwards called Carn-ma-Cheasog. In the 13th century, when Haco of Norway made a descent upon Scotland, he conducted part of his fleet up Loch Long to Arrochar. From this spot the boats were dragged across an isthmus; and being floated on Loch Lomond at Tarbet, they sailed to Luss, and carried devastation and slaughter through the parish and its neighbouring islands. The estate of Luss fell, about the 14th century, into the possession of the family who have ever since retained it. In the beginning of the 12th century, Alwyn, second earl of Lennox, had made the lands over, by charter, to Malduin, Dean of Lennox; and his descendants, who were styled de Luss, had held them till the 14th century, when they came into the hands of Colquhoun, of Colquhoun, through his marriage with the sole heiress. The descendants of this union kept the property till about the beginning of the last century, when it came, by the marriage of the heiress, to Grant of Grant, ancestor of the present proprietor, Sir James Colquhoun, Bart. Robert, the younger brother of Sir Humphrey Colquhoun, in 1395 obtained the lands of Camstraddan and Achingahan by charter, and thus was ancestor of the family of Camstraddan; but eventually the father of the present proprietor purchased the estate of Camstraddan, and, by re-annexing it to the estate of Luss, became owner of the whole parish.
   The parish is about eight and a half miles long, and varies in breadth from two and a half to five miles. It is bounded on the north by the parish of Arrochar; on the south and south-west by the parishes of Bonhill and Row; on the east by Loch Lomond; and on the west by Row and, for a very short distance, Loch Long. The parish was formerly of larger extent, comprehending in its boundaries Arrochar, the lands of Auchindennan, Cameron, Stuckrogert, Tullichewen, and the lands of Buchanan. The last-named district was separated in 1621, and Arrochar in 1658; the others were joined to the parish of Bonhill about the year 1650. The lands, however, of Caldanach, Conglens, and Prestelloch, once belonging to Inch-Cailloch parish, are now annexed to Luss. The surface throughout, with few exceptions, is hilly and mountainous. The least elevated land lies along the Lake Lomond from the southern extremity of Luss to Ross-Dhu; some of this is perfectly level, and the rest is a continuous tract of slopes and acclivities gradually rising till they merge in the ascent of the abrupt and lofty mountains. Among the chief mountains are, Ben-Cornachantian, Aich, Dhu, and Corafuar, which rise nearly 3000 feet above the level of the sea, and are broken in every direction by fissures and glens of the wildest and most romantic kind. Of the numerous streams, the Froon runs into Loch Lomond nearly opposite the southern extremity of Inch-Murin, the largest of its islands: this river takes its name from, or gives it to, Glen-Froon, through which it runs, and which was the spot where a sanguinary battle was fought in 1603, between the clans of Colquhoun and Mac Gregor. The rivers Luss and Finlass rise at a small distance from Glen-Finlass, which is parallel with Glen-Froon, and separated from it by a range of mountains: these two streams, diverging from their source, fall into the loch about three miles from each other. On the extreme northern boundary of the parish is Glen-Duglass, at the opening of which to the lake is the ferry of Ruardinnan. All these glens run in an easterly line; and their several rivulets flow into the same great reservoir, Loch Lomond, which is twenty-four miles long. The eastern boundary of the parish embraces about eight miles of its shore. Its extreme breadth is in the part near Ross-Dhu, which is almost eight miles wide; and the islands contained in it which belong to Luss are, Inch-Tavanach, InchConagan, Inch-Lonaig, Inch-Moan, Inch-Galbraith, and Inch-Friechlan. Some of these islands are naked rocks; others are covered with wood, or supply peat to the poor; and one, converted into a park for about 150 deer belonging to the proprietor of the parish, is celebrated for its vast number of ancient yew-trees. This loch, so famous for its unrivalled scenery, exhibits the finest views from the top of Inch-Tavanach, InchMurin, and the northern point of Benbui. Loch Long, already referred to, is a large estuary of the sea, extending from the Frith of Clyde northward between the counties of Dumbarton and Argyll.
   The soil is light and gravelly, mixed in some places with rich loam; a great portion of the land is waste, and many hundreds of acres are covered with wood. The average rent of good arable land is £2 per acre. Agricultural improvement has not made very rapid advances, and the farm-buildings are still in rather an inferior condition; but much encouragement has been recently given by the establishment of a society in the parish, which distributes prizes annually for improvements in husbandry and the breeding of cattle. The sheep are the black-faced and the Cheviots; Highland cattle are pastured on the hilly grounds, and the cows are in some parts the Ayrshire, and in others a crossbreed between these and the Highland. With regard to the geological features of the parish, the rocks in the south-east are the conglomerate or red sandstone; the mountains comprise clay-slate with all its varieties, and quartz is often found in the vicinity of the clay-slate, as well as crystals of cubical iron pyrites. There is a freestone-quarry, the produce of which is used in the parish; and at Luss and Camstraddan are extensive slate-quarries, from which superior roofing-slates are obtained, and sent to the neighbouring parishes, and, by the river Leven, to Dumbarton, Paisley, Glasgow, Port-Glasgow, and Greenock. About fifty men are employed in the works, which yield two varieties, viz., the light and the dark blue, the latter bringing the highest price in the market. The rateable annual value of the parish is £4215. The only mansion of note is Ross-Dhu House, the seat of Sir James Colquhoun, built about seventy years ago, on the promontory of the same name. It is surrounded by several hundreds of acres of the best land in the parish, beautifully laid out in pasture and plantations, the scenery of which derives variety from the ruins of a part of the old family mansion, and a roofless chapel still used as a cemetery for the family.
   The village of Luss, romantically situated about thirteen miles from Dumbarton, on the margin of the lake, is a central spot from which much of the beautiful scenery in this part of the county can be visited; it is crowded with pleasure parties during summer, and there is an excellent inn. There is a good turnpike-road to Helensburgh, and the post-road from Dumbarton along Loch Lomond to the Highlands traverses the whole length of the parish. Several branch roads supply further facilities of communication; and there is a post-office in the village, with a daily delivery from Dumbarton and Inverary. There are three bridges across the Froon, on three respective lines of road; also a bridge over each of the rivers Finlass, Luss, and Duglass. Water communication is afforded by Loch Lomond, by which access may be had to every part in the vicinity of its shores. There is a fair on the third Tuesday in August, at the village, for the sale of sheep and lambs.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Dumbarton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and the patronage is vested in Sir James Colquhoun: the stipend of the minister is £234, with a manse, and a glebe of nine arable acres, with two or three under wood. The church, built in 1771, is a plain building in good repair, containing 500 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. There is a parochial school in the village, the master of which receives a salary of £34. 4.; he has a house, and his fees average £12. Another school is situated at Moorland, four miles south of the village, the master of which has £15, with fees, and a house recently built by the proprietor of the parish; and a girls' schoolmistress receives a similar amount for teaching in another part of the parish. There are two libraries, one of which has been long in existence, and contains about 100 old volumes, mostly in Greek and Latin; the other, a circulating library, containing eighty volumes, chiefly of practical divinity, was instituted a few years ago by the incumbent. The chief relic of antiquity is the cairn of St. Mackessog, called Carn-ma-Cheasog; and traces exist of an old fortification at Dumfin, traditionally represented as a stronghold of the celebrated Fingal.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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