- DUMBARTONSHIRE, a county, in the west of Scotland, bounded on the north by Perthshire, on the east by the counties of Perth and Stirling, on the south by the Frith of Clyde, and on the west by Argyllshire. It lies between 55° 53' 30" and 56° 19' 40" (N. Lat.) and 3° 54' 50" and 4° 53' (W. Long.), and, including the detached parishes of Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld, which extend towards the east for 12 miles between the counties of Stirling and Lanark, is about 57 miles in length. It varies from 24 to 2 miles in breadth, and contains an area of 261 square miles, or 167,040 acres; 8369 houses, of which 7985 are inhabited; and a population of 44,296, of whom 22,542 are males, and 21,754 females. This district was originally inhabited by the British tribe of the Attacotti, whose descendants retained their possessions long after the British kingdom of Strathclyde had been subdued by Kenneth Mc Alpine, and subsisted as a distinct race till the middle of the twelfth century. That part of the county bordering on the river Leven obtained the appellation of Levenach, afterwards corrupted into Lennox, and, in the reign of William the Lion, belonged to a powerful Saxon family, of whom Alwyn was by that monarch created Earl of Lennox. The earldom was subsequently raised to a dukedom; and on the demise of the sixth duke without issue, the title and estates were conferred upon Charles Lennox, whom Charles II. created Duke of Richmond. During the disputes relating to the succession to the throne after the death of Alexander III., the county was frequently the seat of war; and the castle of Dumbarton was alternately in the possession of the contending parties. Prior to the Reformation the county was included in the diocese of Glasgow; at present it is in the synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and comprises a large part of the presbytery of Dumbarton, and a portion of that of Glasgow, and twelve parishes. The various courts are held at Dumbarton, which is the county town, and the only royal burgh; there are four burghs of barony, and several villages. Under the act of the 2nd of William IV., the county returns one member to the imperial parliament.The surface is strikingly diversified with mountains and lakes, and displays an interesting combination of the most beautiful features of Highland scenery, embracing straths of rich fertility and pleasing appearance. The northern part of the county abounds with mountains of majestic elevation, and throughout the whole of that district, which comprises an area of nearly fifty square miles, not more than 400 acres have been subjected to the plough. The southern district, though less elevated, consists of two ridges of hills of considerable height, reaching from east to west, between which is the picturesque vale of Glenfruin, more than five miles in length. The highest of the mountains are Ben-Voirlich, near the north-western extremity of Loch Lomond, rising 3300 feet above the level of the sea; Ben-Cruachanstean, Corafuar, Shantron, Beneich, and Doune, some of which attain an elevation of 3000 feet; and Ben-Finnart, 2500 feet in height. The Kilpatrick braes, in the south of the county, are a beautiful range of hills intersecting an extensive tract of lowland in high cultivation, and have an elevation of 1200 feet, commanding from their summits richly-varied prospects over a most interesting district of the country. The principal lake is Loch Lomond, which, after intersecting a small portion of the county on the north, forms part of its eastern boundary, separating it from Stirling. This noble expanse of water is about twenty-four miles in length from north to south, and seven miles broad in the widest part, and is studded with numerous picturesque islands, of which the chief are, Inch-Murin, Inch-Lonaig, Inch-Tavanach, InchMoan, Inch-Conachan, and Inch-Galbraith, exclusively of other islands in that part of it included within Stirling. The river Leven issues from the loch at its southern extremity, and, after a course of about seven miles, flows into the Frith of Clyde. There are several other lakes in the county, of which Loch Sloy, in the parish of Arrochar, was formerly the rendezvous of the clan Mac Farlane; it is about a mile in length, and half a mile broad. In the parishes of Old Kilpatrick and Cumbernauld are several of considerable extent. There are also two salt-water lakes, Loch Gareloch and Loch Long, between which the parish of Roseneath forms a peninsula; they both extend northward from the Frith of Clyde, the former intersecting the county for about six miles, and the latter forming its boundary on the west.About one-third of the land is in cultivation, and the remainder is mountain pasture, wood, and lakes. The soil along the borders of the Frith and the river Leven is a deep black loam; in some parts of the county is a gravelly loam, and in others clay, resting on a tilly bottom. The system of agriculture on the best farms is equal to any in the west of Scotland; the land is well drained and inclosed; much waste has been brought into cultivation; the farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, and considerable improvement has been gradually taking place. The mountains afford good pasture for cattle, which are chiefly of the Highland breed, and the cows pastured on the lowlands for the dairy are the pure Ayrshire, with a mixture of the Ayrshire and the Highland breeds. The sheep are generally the black-faced on the hill pastures, and the Cheviot breed on the lowlands. The rateable annual value of the county is £147,080. The substrata are mostly micaslate, limestone, and coal; the mica-slate is wrought at the quarries of Luss and Camstradden, and the seams are frequently traversed by veins of quartz, and abound with pyrites of iron. The limestone is of a deep blue or almost black colour, and is extensively wrought, as is the coal, which is found in seams nearly five feet in thickness; sandstone and trap are also abundant, and columnar basalt occurs in several parts. The woods and plantations are in a thriving condition; the soil appears well adapted to the growth of timber, and the extensive tracts of wood add greatly to the appearance of the scenery. The seats are, Cumbernauld, Roseneath, Rossdhû, Balloch, Tilliechewen, Strath-Leven, Ardenconnell, Auchintorlie, Ardincaple, Cames-Eskan, Garscube, Broomly, Woodbank, and Cameron. The chief manufactures are those of glass and glass bottles; there are also some cotton-printing works, and bleaching-fields for cotton and linen, on the banks of the Leven, the water of which, from its purity, is well adapted to the purpose. Facility of communication is afforded by good roads, which have been greatly extended and improved within the last few years.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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