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 Parish of Kilbride 1846



KILBRIDE, a parish, in the island of Arran, county of Bute, 20 miles (S. W. by W.) from Saltcoats; containing, with the villages of Brodick and Corrie, 2786 inhabitants, of whom 271 are in the village, or Kirktown, of Kilbride, called also Lamlash from its situation on the bay of that name. This parish, which derives its name from the dedication of its ancient church to St. Bridget or St. Bride, was the scene of some interesting events during the wars with England which originated in the disputed succession to the Scottish throne, after the death of Alexander III. In 1306, Robert Bruce, who, during his reverses of fortune, had remained for some time in concealment in Ireland, landed on the Isle of Arran, with a small fleet, and, being joined by Sir James Douglas and others of his adherents, assaulted and reduced the Castle of Brodick, which was then held by Sir John Hastings, for Edward I. of England. Upon this occasion, Bruce, in recompense of their important services, conferred upon his friends many of the lands of Arran, which, however, long since passed from their descendants, and are now the property of the Duke of Hamilton. The island, which at that time was thickly wooded, became a favourite resort of the Scottish kings, for pursuing the diversion of the chase; and the castle of Loch Ranza, of which the remains denote its former magnificence, was erected as a hunting-seat by one of the Stuarts, prior to the year 1380.

In 1544, the
castle of Brodick was demolished by the Earl of Lennox, whom Henry VIII. of England had sent with an army to punish the Scots for their refusal to concur in the proposed alliance of the Princess Mary, afterwards Queen of Scots, with Prince Edward, afterwards King of England. A few years subsequently, the Earl of Sussex, lord lieutenant of Ireland, who had landed with a considerable force in Cantyre, then in the possession of the Macdonalds, to retaliate the frequent incursions of the islanders into the north of Ireland, sailed to the bay of Brodick, and laid waste the adjacent country. In 1651, the castle of Brodick was garrisoned by Cromwell, who also repaired the fortifications, and erected an additional bastion; but the garrison, who had rendered themselves obnoxious to the inhabitants, were surprised while on a foraging party, and put to the sword. The remains of this fortress are considerable, though, from its frequent demolition, but little of its ancient character is preserved. The Duchess of Hamilton, more than a century since, made a large addition to the buildings; and it is still the occasional residence of the Hamilton family. The principal tower fell down in February, 1845, but has been rebuilt.

The parish, which occupies nearly one-half of the Isle of Arran, is bounded on the east by the Frith of Clyde, and on the west by a range of mountains separating it from the parish of Kilmorie, which forms the remainder of the island. It is about twenty-two miles in extreme length, from north to south, varying from two miles to four and a half in breadth; and comprises an area of 42,000 acres, of which nearly 6000 are arable, 900 woodland and plantations, and the remainder hill pasture, moorland, and waste. The surface is strikingly varied with hills and mountains, interspersed with deep and narrow glens of picturesque character; and the scenery abounds with features, either of wild magnificence, majestic grandeur, or romantic beauty. The hills, from the southern boundary of the parish to the bay of Brodick, rise gradually in gentle undulations to a height of 800 feet, and are covered to their summits with grass and heath. Towards
Loch Ranza, near the northern boundary, however, they rise precipitously in rugged masses of barren rock, of which the highest, Goatfell, has an elevation of nearly 3000 feet above the level of the sea. The glens, of which the principal are Glen-Rosa, Glen-Sannox, Glencloy, and Ashdale, are watered by their respective rivers, flowing between narrow banks of mountainous acclivity which darken their stream. The river of Ashdale, obstructed in its course by masses of rock, forms two romantic cascades, falling respectively 100 and 50 feet from ledges of columnar basalt. These rivers, which, in their progress through the glens, receive numerous tributary streams, abound with trout and eels of small size; and when swollen with rains in summer, salmon and sea-trout ascend in considerable numbers. The only inland lake belonging to the parish is Loch Urie, on the hill of that name, but it is of small extent. Springs of the purest water, issuing from the rocks, occur in many parts; and some are impregnated with iron and other minerals.

The whole extent of sea-coast, except where it is indented with bays, is guarded by a ledge of rude cliffs and rugged precipices, between which and the sea is a narrow tract of level land. These rocks are in many places clothed with ivy, and interspersed with birch ash, oak, and brushwood. On the eastern shore are
the bays of Lamlash and Brodick, the former a fine circular haven, about three miles in length, of sufficient depth to afford safe anchorage to a large fleet of vessels of any burthen, and surrounded with a fine sandy beach. The entrance to this bay is by two inlets at the extremities of the island of Lamlash, or the Holy Isle, which lies in front of it, a picturesque island of conical form, rising to a height of 900 feet above the level of the sea. A quay was formed here by the Duchess of Hamilton, at a cost of nearly 3000; but the materials were, from time to time, removed for building the village at the head of the bay, and the loss is now severely felt. The bay of Brodick, to the north of Lamlash, is about two miles in length, and of considerable depth; and at the northern extremity are the remains of the ancient castle, now Arran House, the occasional residence of the Duke of Hamilton. To the south of Lamlash is Whiting bay, of smaller dimensions, but of which the shores abound with interesting scenery; and to the north of Brodick is the bay of Corrie, where is a small harbour. There is also a good harbour at Loch Ranza, on the north-west. The sea, off the coast, abounds with various kinds of fish; the most numerous are whiting and haddock, but cod, ling, mackerel, conger-eels, skate, flounders, soles, and turbot are likewise taken in considerable quantities. Lobsters, crabs, and great varieties of shell-fish are also to be obtained on every part of the coast; oysters are found only at Loch Ranza. Herrings occasionally visit the coast, but in greater numbers on the north and west sides of the island.

The soil of the cultivated lands is generally light. In the valleys it is extremely various; in some places, little more than sand; and in others, a fine alluvial loam, and moss and marsh converted by draining and manure into rich black loam, more or less interspersed with gravel. The crops raised are, oats, barley, beans, peas, potatoes, and turnips, with a few acres of flax. The system of husbandry has been greatly improved under the encouragement of the principal proprietor, and the stimulus of a farming association which awards prizes for the best specimens of stock and rural management. The lands have been well drained and inclosed; the farm houses and offices are generally substantial and commodious; and the various recent improvements in the construction of agricultural implements have been introduced. The hills afford good pasturage for numerous flocks of sheep, which are of the black-faced breed, with a few of the Cheviot and Merino on the lower grounds. The cattle are mostly of the Argyllshire Highland breed, to the improvement of which much attention is paid. Ayrshire cows are kept on the dairy-farms, which are well managed; and the butter and cheese produced here are equal to what is made in the best districts of Ayrshire. There are some remains of the ancient woods, which were very extensive. The plantations round the castle of Brodick, near the bay of Lamlash, and at
Kilmichael, which last are of very recent date, consist of larch, Scotch, spruce, and silver firs, oak, ash, elm, sycamore, and birch, and are in a very thriving state. The rateable annual value of the parish is 4548.

The rocks are chiefly composed of granite, trap, porphyry, and porphyritic clay-stone; and rock crystals of almost every variety are found. The substrata comprise sandstone, clay-slate, limestone, ironstone, and coal, which last is found near t
he Cock of Arran. There are quarries of limestone and freestone near Corrie. An attempt was once made to work the coal, but was for some reason abandoned; and a slate-quarry in the neighbourhood was for a time in operation, but has been discontinued. At Sannox is a quarry of barytes, the proprietor of which has erected a large mill for pulverizing the mineral, and extracting the sulphate, which obtains a high price in the market. The ironstone, though abundant, is not wrought. The whole of the parish, with the exception only of the farm of Kilmichael, belonging to John Fullarton, Esq., who resides on his estate, is the property of the Duke of Hamilton. The village of Lamlash consists chiefly of a few rural cottages and some shops, and, during the summer, is the resort of visiters for sea-bathing, for whose accommodation there are three good inns. A small fair is held at Lamlash, about the commencement of winter, principally for horses, but it is not much frequented; and there is also a fair at Brodick, for cattle, horses, and wool, held in the last week of June, and numerously attended. There are two branch offices in the parish, under the post-office of Saltcoats, which have daily deliveries. Facility of communication is afforded by good roads in various directions, and by steamers which frequent the bay, plying in summer daily, and in winter twice in the week, between Arran and Ardrossan, and also twice in the week between Arran and Glasgow, from the beginning of June till the end of September.

The Ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of
Cantyre and synod of Argyll. The minister's stipend is 259, with a manse, and a glebe valued at 20 per annum; patron, the Duke of Hamilton. The church, situated on the shore of the bay of Lamlash, was erected in 1773; it is a plain structure, without either tower or spire, and contains 560 sittings, all of which are free. A chapel in connexion with the Established Church was erected at Loch Ranza, about the year 1782, by the Duke of Hamilton, for the accommodation of both the parishes of Arran; it contains 400 sittings. The minister has a stipend of 41, arising from an endowment by the Duchess of Hamilton. A church was erected at Brodick in 1839, at an expense of 850, of which 100 were given by the duke, 167. 15. by the extension committee of the General Assembly, and the remainder raised by subscription; the service is now performed by a Free Church minister, who derives his income from the seat-rents and collections. The salary of the parochial school is divided among four teachers, of whom one, at Lamlash, has 19; one at Brodick 16; one at Corrie 4; and the fourth, at Loch Ranza, 6, with nearly an equal sum from the parish of Kilmorie, to which that school is open. The masters have each a house and garden, rent-free, from the Duke of Hamilton, in addition to their fees, which vary from 14 to 5 per annum. There is also a school at Whiting bay, to the master of which a salary of 25 is paid by the General Assembly. A parochial library, which was established in 1824, and has now a collection of more than 300 volumes, is supported by subscription.

There are some remains of Druidical circles; and several have been destroyed at different times, to furnish materials for building. Near the manse are two sepulchral cairns; and at the head of
Moniemore glen, is one more than 200 feet in circumference at the base, on the removal of part of which stone coffins were found. Similar coffins have been found in various places, containing human bones; and in one of them was a piece of gold, supposed to have been part of the guard of an ancient sword. The Holy Isle, at the entrance of Lamlash bay, was the solitary retreat of St. Molios, a disciple of St. Columba, who, for greater seclusion, is said to have removed from Iona to this place, whence he diffused the light of Christianity among the pagan inhabitants of Arran. The cave which was his residence was hewn in a sandstone rock; and in the roof is a Runic inscription, setting forth his name and office. A monastery was afterwards founded on the island, of which the ruins were visible in 1594: the cause of its abandonment was the loss of a vessel, conveying a number of people attending a corpse for interment in its cemetery, which was distinguished by various rude tombstones till within the last five years, when they were removed. There were in Glencloy, till lately, the remains of the ancient chapel of Kilmichael; and at Sannox was a church, of which the only vestige now remaining is a rude figure of its patron saint, built up in the wall of the cemetery, which is still used.

From:   A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846)







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