- ROSENEATH, a parish, in the county of Dumbarton, 3 miles (W. by N.) from Helensburgh; containing 941 inhabitants, of whom about 50 are in the village. By some writers the name of this place is said to be a modification of Ross-Neoth, descriptive of its form and original appearance as a bare and unwooded promontory; while others derive it from Ross-de-Nevyd, signifying "the extremity of the country of Nevyd," which at a very early period formed part of the lordship of Lennox. Other writers, again, deduce the name from Ross-na-Choich, or "the promontory of the Virgin," on account of the foundation of a church here by the earls of Lennox in honour of the Virgin Mary. The earls appear to have retained the lordship till near the close of the 15th century, when the lands of Roseneath were granted to Colin, the first earl of Argyll, by James IV., who appointed him lord high chancellor of Scotland, and subsequently sent him as his plenipotentiary to the conference held at Northampton. The earl was a zealous adherent to his sovereign during the rebellion of the nobles; and on the accession of James IV., he also stood high in that monarch's confidence. The lands have ever since remained in the possession of his descendants, and are now the property of the present duke.The parish, which anciently included part of that of Row, is bounded on the east by the Gareloch, on the south by the Frith of Clyde, and on the west by Loch Long. It is about eight miles in length, and varies from a mile and a half to two miles in breadth; comprising 6140 acres, of which about 2000 are arable with a moderate proportion of meadow and pasture, 1240 woodland and plantations, and the remainder moor and waste. The general form is that of a long narrow peninsula, the parish being surrounded by water except at the northern extremity, where it is connected with the mainland of the parish of Row by an isthmus little more than a mile in breadth. The surface ascends gradually from a level tract along the shore of the Frith towards the centre, and thence rises by successive undulations to the hill of Tamnahara, which has an elevation of more than 800 feet above the sea. These undulations attain a mean height of about 400 feet, and form a wide tract of table land chiefly covered with heath and moss, from the sides of which the lands slope gently to the coast, and are divided into arable farms and pastures. The higher parts command extensive and richly-diversified prospects over a country abounding with features of impressive grandeur; and the prevailing scenery throughout the whole parish is beautifully picturesque, and in many places romantic. There are no rivers; but the grounds are intersected with numerous rivulets and brooks descending from the higher lands, and which, after continued rains, swell into torrents, and in their courses form various pleasing cascades. Near the base of Tamnahara is a small lake, not more than a mile in circumference, and of inconsiderable depth, abounding with perch, and from which issues a rivulet that flows into Loch Long at the north-western extremity of the parish. There are also a few perennial springs, one of which preserves the same degree of temperature in all seasons, and is much resorted to in dry summers; and another, called the Minister's well, is slightly chalybeate.The coast is in some parts low and sandy, and in others rocky, but not precipitous; and is indented with several small bays, of which the most important are Calwattie and Campsaile, the latter situated in the Gareloch, between the Row ferry and the Castle point. This bay affords excellent anchorage and secure shelter for vessels of any burthen, and was used by the kings of Scotland as a station for their ships of war; it has within the last few years been chosen by the Royal Yacht Club for laying up their vessels for the winter. The Gareloch is sheltered from all those winds to which Loch Long is so much exposed; the holding-ground is firm, and the loch forms a spacious harbour in which the whole of the British navy might ride in complete security at any time of the year. The Gareloch and Loch Long abound with herrings during the season, and fisheries are carried on there to a very considerable extent; salmon are also taken in moderate quantities, and there are ferries, from the former to Greenock, and from the latter to Row. Sea-trout, haddock, cod, ling, whiting, skate, mackerel, flounders, halibut, mullet, sperling, the John-dory, and gurnard are sometimes obtained. Muscles are plentiful; there are two beds of oysters, and lobsters and crabs are found occasionally on the shore of Loch Long. In the moors, grouse are found in considerable numbers, as well as other species of game; partridges have greatly increased in numbers since the cultivation of the adjacent lands, and snipes and woodcocks are also plentiful; but though many attempts have been made to introduce the pheasant, they have been rather unsuccessful.The soil is extremely various in different localities; but the arable lands on the slopes, and especially the lowest grounds, are fertile and productive. The crops are, oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses; and the farms are generally in a state of profitable cultivation. The system of husbandry has been gradually improving under the auspices of an association recently established; considerable tracts of waste land have been reclaimed by draining; and inclosures of stone dykes and hedges of thorn have been made on most of the farms. The farm houses, also, have been greatly improved, and the offices are substantial and well arranged; the cottages are comfortable, and kept in good repair; and all the more recent improvements in the construction of implements have come into general use. Few sheep are reared: the cattle are mostly of the Ayrshire breed, but in the parks attached to the principal mansions many of the West Highland and black-breed are grazed. Great attention is paid to the live-stock, and several oxen fed on the lands of Roseneath have obtained the premiums awarded by the Highland Society at their annual meetings. The most ancient of the woodlands, which comprise 720 acres of natural timber, consist of ash, elm, beech, plane, lime, oak, yew, horse-chesnut, holm-oak, cedar, and various kinds of fir, of which there are numerous specimens of venerable growth in the grounds of the castle, the environs of the church, and on the site of the ancient house of Campsaile. The more modern plantations, of which there are 520 acres, chiefly in the southern portions of the parish, comprise all the varieties of the pine, with oak, ash, and birch, which seem to be indigenous to the soil; they are regularly thinned and in a flourishing state, and harmonise well with the timber in the castle-grounds, and the copses of natural wood which extend along the shores of the Frith and the lochs. Near the site of the mansion of Campsaile are two silver firs of luxuriant and venerable growth, which are supposed to have been the first planted in this part of the country. Their trunks at a height of five feet from the ground are nineteen feet in girth; and from them rise numerous lofty stems, branching out into a profusion of spreading boughs combining a graceful symmetry of form with an impression of majestic grandeur. The principal substrata are, clay-slate, limestone, and sandstone, with occasional boulders of granite. The slate is of various colours and of good quality: two quarries were opened some years since on the lands of Roseneath Castle and Baremman respectively, and, after being in operation for some time without yielding an adequate remuneration, were both abandoned; but the latter has recently been re-opened with a probability of greater advantage. The limestone has not been wrought to any considerable extent: the facility of obtaining abundance of lime from the north of Ireland, at all times, and at a very moderate expense, has hitherto rendered the extensive working of it unnecessary. The rateable annual value of the parish is £4006.The old Castle of Roseneath, the ancient baronial seat of the Lennox family, was partly restored and fitted up by the Marquess of Argyll, as a temporary residence, about the year 1630, and continued to be occasionally occupied by the family till the late Duke of Argyll enlarged a small castellated building on the south point of the bay of Campsaile, and added to it a commodious suite of apartments. This mansion, which obtained the appellation of Roseneath Castle, was destroyed by fire about the commencement of the present century; and the duke in 1802 commenced the erection of the present splendid seat, on a site at a greater distance from the shore, and more towards the centre of the bay. The new mansion is a spacious structure in the modern Italian style of architecture, erected after a design by, and under the superintendence of, J. Bononi, of London. The principal front, towards the north, is embellished with a stately portico of the Ionic order, boldly projecting from the main building, and affording ample room for a carriage-drive underneath; and the south front, though less striking in its character, is also a composition of elegant design. From the centre of the building, which contains many apartments magnificently decorated, rises a lofty circular tower of two stages, crowned with battlements, and commanding from the platform a richly-varied prospect over the demesne, which is tastefully laid out, and an extensive view of the adjacent country, which abounds with features of highly romantic character. Clachan House, another mansion of the Campbell family, and formerly their principal seat in this part, is remarkable for the beauty of its situation, and its avenue of venerable yew-trees and stately limes. The houses of Peattoun and Baremman are handsome residences; and there are also numerous pleasing villas and picturesque cottages on the banks of the Gareloch. The village, or Kirkton, is very inconsiderable, consisting only of small houses in the vicinity of the church; and in various parts of the parish are other small clusters of cottages, which during the summer months are partly occupied by strangers, who resort hither for the purpose of seabathing. A subscription library, containing several hundred volumes, has been for some years established; and there is also a juvenile library, consisting chiefly of religious publications. No manufactures of any kind are carried on in the parish; but several of the inhabitants are employed in the handicraft trades requisite for the wants of the district. The beauty of the scenery, and the numerous objects of interest in the immediate vicinity, attract great numbers of visiters from all parts of the surrounding country. There are two inns in the parish, situated at the ferries of Row and Kilcraigie; and a branch office under the post-office at Helensburgh has been established, which has a daily delivery. Internal communication is maintained by private roads intersecting the parish in various directions, and connecting Loch Long with the Gareloch, all of which are kept in excellent repair; and steamers which ply in the lochs, and the ferry-boats, afford every facility of intercourse with places at a distance.The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dumbarton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The minister's stipend is £190. 16. 5., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £10 per annum; patron, the Duke of Argyll. The old church, situated about two miles from the southern boundary of the parish, and on the shore of the Gareloch, originally a cruciform structure dedicated to the Virgin Mary, having fallen into decay, was taken down in 1780, with the exception of the belfry, which has been preserved. The present church is a neat plain substantial structure, containing sufficient accommodation for the parishioners, but remarkable only for the beauty of its belfry. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school, situated in the village, is a handsome and commodious building, recently erected by the heritors; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees average about £40 annually. There is also a school at Knockderry, on the shore of Loch Long, of which the master has a salary of £35 from the Duke of Argyll, by whom the school-house was built, in addition to the fees. At Knockderry are some remains of an ancient fort, supposed to have been occupied by the Danes or Norwegians during their incursions into this part of the country. To the north of the castle of Roseneath is a precipitous rock called Wallace's Leap, from which that hero is said to have thrown himself into the Gareloch, when closely pursued by his enemies. Of various ancient chapels which formerly existed here, and to which bodies of the dead were often brought from the Hebrides, and even from Ireland, for interment, there are scarcely any vestiges now remaining. In the fields near Port-Kill, upon the shore of the Frith of Clyde, several stone coffins rudely formed, and containing ashes, were discovered about the commencement of the present century; and on the farm of Mamore, the last remains of what appeared to have been a religious house were removed to furnish materials for inclosing the lands. Among the distinguished persons connected with the parish were, Dr. John Anderson, professor of natural philosophy in the university of Glasgow, and founder of the Andersonian Institution in that city, who was born here while his father was minister; and Matthew Stewart, father of the celebrated Dugald Stewart, who was for some years minister.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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