- SOUTHEND, a parish, in the district of Cantyre, county of Argyll, 7½ miles (S. by W.) from Campbelltown; containing, with the island of Sanda, 1594 inhabitants. This place takes its present name, which it has had only since the Reformation, from its position at the southern extremity of the peninsula of Cantyre. It consists of the ancient parishes of Kilcolmkill and Kilblaan, the former name signifying "the cell or church of St. Columba, the founder of churches," and the latter "the church of St. Blaan." On the east and south it is bounded by the Frith of Clyde and the North Channel, on the west by the Atlantic, and on the north by the parish, town, and harbour of Campbelltown; and it comprehends, besides the main land portion, the small island of Sanda, at a short distance on the south-east, and the much smaller ones of Glunamore and Sheep isle, both close to the former. The parish extends eleven miles in extreme length, measures about five miles at its greatest breadth, and comprises 32,318 acres, of which one-fourth are computed to be under cultivation as arable and pasture, the proportion of the arable to the pasture being about one to five: the wood, natural and planted, comprehends only from 100 to 150 acres.The line of coast is about nineteen miles in extent; and though sandy towards the east, on the side opposite the Atlantic it is bold, rocky, and commanding in its aspect: it contains numerous caves, some headlands, and several bays girt with coral rocks, of which those affording the best anchorage are Dunaverty, Carskey, and Machririoch. The Mull of Cantyre, the Epidium Promontorium of the Romans, is the chief headland, and the nearest point of land in Britain to Ireland, the distance being only eleven and a half miles from the promontory to Tor Point, in the county of Antrim. This rocky projection, as is well known, is lofty and imposing in its appearance, and exhibits an assemblage of massive pillars overhanging the ocean in dreary solitude, of a singular variety of forms, and of magnificent grandeur, bidding defiance with unbroken front to the most furious storms. Adjoining is the mountain of Knockmoy, the highest in the district, rising 2036 feet above the level of the sea, and forming a noted mark to all vessels coming from the west. The summit commands one of the most striking, diversified, and beautiful views in the upper districts of Scotland, embracing, in the midst of the fine clear swell of the adjacent deep, the islands of Islay, Rathlin, Jura, and Gigha, and, in the distance, the mountains of Mull. Towards the east, the Frith of Clyde appears stretched out with great effect, together with the towering hills of Arran, the Ayrshire coast, and the mountains of Carrick and Galloway, the horizon being bounded by the picturesque isle of Ailsa. The island of Sanda, separated from the main land by a channel three miles across, is of irregular form, about four miles in circumference, and being covered with good pasture, serves the purpose of a large sheep-farm. It has passed, at different times, under different names, though its present appellation is considered the most ancient, on the authority of Adomnan, Abbot of Iona, who wrote the life of St. Columba in the year 680. During the visits of the Scandinavians to these coasts, and their attacks upon the district for the possession of Cantyre and the adjacent islands, Sanda, according to the historian Buchanan, was an important station for their fleets; when the Danish fleet assembled here the isle was called Avona Porticosa, and by the natives it is still termed Aven. The sound is much frequented for its anchorage by small vessels sailing up the Frith of Clyde, which has about twelve fathoms of water at three miles from the shore.The navigation on this coast requires great experience and caution, on account of some remarkable eddies and dangerous sunken rocks. One of the former, a rapid current resembling a whirlpool, runs about a mile and a half from the Mull, and often drives vessels on shore by taking a strong course to the eastward when the tide flows to the westward. A very dangerous rock, also, called Paterson's rock, nearly 300 yards long, lying E. S. E. of Sanda, and always covered at highwater, has been the occasion, partly through the force of the current, of many shipwrecks at different times. A lighthouse, called the Mull of Cantyre lighthouse, was commenced in 1786, and finished two years afterwards: the light, which was first exhibited on the night of the 1st of December, 1788, is known to mariners as a stationary light, and appears as a star of the first magnitude at the distance of six or seven leagues. This beacon, so important for the security of the navigation of the channel between Scotland and Ireland, is one of the series built by the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, who were appointed by act of parliament in the year 1786, with a jurisdiction extending along the entire coast of Scotland and the Isle of Man. The structure stands on a cliff 280 feet above the level of the sea, and near the rocks usually known by the name of "the Merchants." It is bound by a shore composed of gigantic masses of mica-slate and quartz-rocks, continually lashed by the tremendous waves almost always in action in this quarter; while inland nothing is to be seen but mountains and morasses, the nearest habitation being five miles distant. A new road was formed to it through the mountains, in 1828, to increase the facilities of communication required in the transmission of the necessary articles.The surface of the interior is in some parts pleasingly diversified with rising grounds, and with valleys traversed by their respective streams, the chief of which are Coniglen and Glenbreckry, lying nearly parallel with each other. The stream Breckry, which runs through the latter, issues from Knockmoy, and loses itself in the sea at Carskey bay; while the Coniglen, the larger of the two, and which is often suddenly swollen, after travelling for some distance in a south-eastern course joins the Frith of Clyde at Dunaverty bay. The general scenery is wild and dreary; and the extensive ranges of rocky mountains contain large and cheerless peat-bogs, the depositories of immense trunks of trees, constituting the remains of the forests with which the locality appears to have been anciently covered. The more cultivated portions of the parish, however, are frequently picturesque, though the great scarcity of wood deprives the surface of an important feature of a fine landscape. The soil varies considerably. The slopes generally exhibit a light gravelly earth, on a tilly subsoil; while moss, clay, loam, and other varieties are also seen in different places, with their usual mixtures and modifications. Towards the sea, on the eastern coast, that which prevails is of a light sandy nature; and alluvial deposits of some depth are found along the valleys, in which spots the cultivation is of course most ancient, and has been continued with least intermission. The crops are bear, oats, beans, potatoes, and turnips; the soil, especially in the eastern district, being considered too light for wheat and barley; though in some places, favoured with a deep loamy earth, it is thought that these kinds of grain might, with the security of good inclosures, be advantageously raised. The land generally requires much draining, and by great efforts of this description nearly one-third has been added to the arable ground within the last few years; the Duke of Argyll has also straightened and embanked the water of Coniglen, at a cost of £1600, to the benefit of the surrounding property. Neither the sheep nor the cattle are remarkable for appearance or quality. The former, with the exception of a few Leicesters lately introduced upon the low lands, are an inferior variety of the native black-faced, with a mixture of Lintons; and the cattle are a cross between the Irish and West Highland, and not to be compared with those of the original breed in the upper country. The stock is perhaps deteriorated partly by the nature of the pasture, which, though sweet and nutritious where the soil is dry and genial, is often the reverse on account of a spongy, crude, and marshy subsoil. The husbandry of the parish is on the whole well conducted, and the farm-houses of the superior tenants are comfortable dwellings, though some of them are roofed only with straw; those, however, occupied by the cottar class are in many cases constructed of clay and turf, and are confined, damp, and cold. There are two mills on the property of the Duke of Argyll.The strata comprehend almost every kind of rock, in various combinations, and in some places imbedded with minerals, among which are fluor-spar and rock-crystal. The prevailing rocks, however, are sandstone, slate, quartz, and limestone; the first of these predominate, and of the last, as well as of whinstone, good quarries are in operation. The island of Sanda consists chiefly of sandstone of a reddish and a grey colour, veined with slaty clay of different hues; it supplied a large proportion of the material employed in the building of the parish church, and has been used for several of the principal mansions in the county. The rocks have an ornamental appearance on some parts of the coast, where, broken into different shapes, the cliffs loftily overhang the sea, and form, in some places, natural arches of considerable dimensions. Belts and clumps of plantations surround some of the chief mansions, and, being very uncommon in this quarter, attract the eye with great effect. The estate of Keil, a few years since a rude and uncultivated tract, has, by the plantation of some thousands of larch, poplar, and other trees, with the addition of good shrubberies, assumed a very beautiful appearance; and the mansion of Ballyshear, a handsome modern residence, has also received the improvement, in the adjacent grounds, of some well laid out plantations of considerable extent. Besides the above-named mansion, the parish contains those of Keilcolm-Keil, Carskey, and Levenstrath, the last surrounded by grounds ornamented with several choice clumps of thriving trees. The produce of the parish is usually sent for sale to Campbelltown, where several annual fairs are held, and also a weekly market for grain; and from near the same place, coal of an inferior kind is brought for fuel. The roads are well kept, and several good bridges have been built. The rateable annual value of Southend is £8763.The parish is in the presbytery of Cantyre and synod of Argyll, and in the patronage of the Duke of Argyll. The minister's stipend is £158, of which £91. 10. are paid by the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe of nearly eleven acres, valued at £15 per annum. The church, accommodating 500 persons, was built in 1774, and is in good repair; it is pleasantly situated on a rising ground, skirted by the stream of Coniglen on the southeast. There is also a place of worship for the Relief persuasion. The parochial school affords instruction in the ordinary branches; the master has a salary of £34. 4., with the legal accommodations, and £27. 5. fees. A new school-house has been erected recently. A second school is supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge; and there is another, partly dependent on an annual gratuity from the Duke of Argyll. The ruins of a religious edifice dedicated to St. Columba are still in good preservation, near the shore of Keil, at which spot, according to tradition, the saint landed on his way from Ireland to this country. The ruins, also, of a religious house dedicated to St. Coivin are to be seen; and also those of St. Catherine's chapel, on the bank of a stream in the retired vale of Glenadle, and adjacent to a cemetery and a holy well frequented, till lately, by sick persons. Obelisks and urns are to be found in various parts; and there are also the remains of several Danish forts, the principal one being near the Mull, on the summit of a precipitous rock 180 feet high, and surrounded by three walls.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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