1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Arran

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ARRAN, the largest island of the county of Bute, Scotland, at the mouth of the Firth of Clyde. Its greatest length, from the Cock of Arran to Bennan Head, is about 20 m., and the greatest breadth—from Drumadoon Point to King’s Cross Point—is 11 m. Its area is 105,814 acres or 165 sq. m. In 1891 its population was 4824, in 1901, 4819 (or 29 persons to the sq. m.). In 1901 there were 1900 persons who spoke English and Gaelic and nine Gaelic only. There is daily winter communication with Brodick and Lamlash by steamer from Ardrossan, and in summer by many steamers which call not only at these piers, but at Corrie, Whiting Bay and Loch Ranza.

The chief mountains are in the north. The highest is Goatfell (2866 ft., the name said to be a corruption of the Gaelic Goadh Bhein, “mountain of the winds”). Others are Caistel Abhail (2735 ft., “peaks of the castles”), Beinn Tarsuinn (2706 ft.), Cir Mhor (2618 ft.) and Beinn Nuis (2597 ft.). In the south Tighvein (1497 ft.) and Cnoc Dubh (1385 ft.) are the most important. Owing to the mountainous character of the island, glens are numerous. Glen Rosa and Glen Sannox are remarkable for their wild beauty, and among others are Iorsa, Catacol, Chalmadale, Cloy, Shant, Shurig, Tuie, Clachan, Monamore, Ashdale (with two cascades) and Scorrodale. Excepting Loch Tanna, the inland lakes are small. Loch Ranza, an arm of the sea, is one of the most beautiful in Scotland. The streams, or “waters” as they are called, are nearly all hill burns, affording good fishing.

The oldest rocks, consisting of slate, mica-schists and grits, which have been correlated with the metamorphic series of the eastern Highlands, form an incomplete ring round the granite in the north of the island and occupy the whole of the west coast from Loch Ranza south to Dougrie. On the east side in North Glen Sannox Burn, they are associated with cherts, grits and dark schists with pillowy lavas, tuffs and agglomerates which, on lithological grounds, have been regarded as probably of the same age as the Arenig cherts and volcanic rocks in the south of Scotland. The Lower Old Red Sandstone strata are separated from the foregoing series by a fault and form a curving belt extending from Corloch on the east coast south by Brodick Castle to Dougrie on the west shore. Consisting of red sandstones, mudstones and conglomerates, they are inclined at high angles usually away from the granite massif and the encircling metamorphic rocks. They are associated with a thin band of lava visible on the west side of the island near Auchencar and traceable inland to Garbh Thorr. The Upper Old Red Sandstone, composed of red sandstone and conglomerates, is only sparingly developed. The strata occur on the east shore between the Fallen Rocks and Corrie, and they appear along a narrow strip to the east and south of the lower division of the system, between Sannox Bay and Dougrie. On the north side of North Glen Sannox they rest unconformably on the Lower Old Red rocks. Contemporaneous lavas, highly decomposed, are intercalated with this division on the north side of North Glen Sannox where the band is highly faulted. The Carboniferous rocks of Arran include representatives of the Calciferous Sandstone, the three subdivisions of the Carboniferous Limestone series, and to a small extent the Coal Measures, and are confined to the north part of the island. They appear on the east coast between the Fallen Rocks and the Cock of Arran, where they form a strip about a quarter of a mile broad, bounded on the west by a fault. Here there is an ascending sequence from the Calciferous Sandstone, through the Carboniferous Limestone with thin coals formerly worked, to the Coal Measures, the strata being inclined at high angles to the north. On the south side of a well-marked anticline in the Upper Old Red Sandstone at North Sannox, the Carboniferous strata reappear on the coast with a south dip showing a similar ascending sequence for about half a mile. The lower limestones are well seen at Corrie, but the thin coals are not there represented. From Corrie they can be traced southwards and inland to near the head of Ben Lister Glen. The small development of Upper Carboniferous strata, visible on the shore south of Corrie and in Ben Lister Glen, consists of sandstones, red and mottled clays and purple shales, which yield plant-remains of Upper Carboniferous facies. These may represent partly the Millstone Grit and partly the Coal Measures. Contemporaneous volcanic rocks, belonging to three stages of the Carboniferous formation, occur in Arran. The lowest group is on the horizon of the Calciferous Sandstone series, being visible at Corrie where it underlies the Corrie limestone, and is traceable southwards beyond Brodick. The second is represented by a thin lava, associated with the Upper Limestone group of the Carboniferous Limestone series, and the highest is found in Ben Lister Glen intercalated with the Upper Carboniferous strata, and may be the equivalent of the volcanic series which, in Ayrshire, occupies the position of the Millstone Grit. The Triassic rocks are arranged in two groups, a lower, composed of conglomerates and sandstones, and an upper one consisting of red and mottled shales and marls with thin sandstones and nodular limestones. In the extreme north at the Cock of Arran, there is a small development of these beds; they also occupy the whole of the east coast south of Corrie, and they spread over the south part of the island south of a line between Brodick Bay and Machrie Bay on the west. At Corrie and the Cock of Arran they rest on Upper Carboniferous strata; in Ben Lister Glen, on the lower limestone group of the Carboniferous Limestone series; and on the west coast they repose on the Old Red Sandstone. There is, therefore, a clear discordance between the Trias and all older strata in Arran. The former extension of Rhaetic, Liassic and Cretaceous formations in the island is indicated by the presence of fragments of these strata in a large volcanic vent on the plateau, on the south side of the road leading from Brodick to Shiskine. The fossils from the Rhaetic beds belong to the Avicula contorta zone, those from the Lias to the Ammonites angulatus zone, while the blocks of limestone with chert contain Inoceramus, Cretaceous foraminifera and other organisms. The materials yielding these fossils are embedded in a course volcanic agglomerate which gives rise to crags and is pierced by acid and basic igneous rocks. One of the striking features in the geology of Arran is the remarkable series of intrusive igneous rocks of Tertiary age which occupy nearly one-half of the area and form the wildest and grandest scenery in the island. Of these the most important is the great oval mass of granite in the North, composed of two varieties; one, coarse-grained and older, forms the outside rim, while the fine-grained and newer type occurs in the interior. Another granite area appears on the south side of the road between Brodick and Shiskine, where it is associated with granophyre and quartz-diorite and traverses the volcanic vent of post-Cretaceous or Tertiary age already described. In the south of the island there are sills and dykes of felsite, quartz-porphyry, rhyolite, trachyte and pitchstone. The felsite sheets are well represented in Holy Island. It is worthy of note that the dykes and sheets of felsite are seldom pierced by the basalt dykes and are probably about the most recent of the intrusive rocks. The best example of the basic sills forms the Clauchland Hills and runs out to sea at Clauchland Point. Finally the basic dykes of dolerite, basalt and augite-andesite are abundant and traverse the various sedimentary formations and the granite.

The chief crops are oats and potatoes. Cattle and sheep are raised in considerable numbers. The game, which is abundant, consisting of blackcock and grouse, is strictly preserved. A few red deer still occur in the wilder hilly district. The fisheries are of some value. Loch Ranza being an important station.

Standing stones, cairns and other memorials of a remote antiquity occur near Tormore, on Machrie Bay, Lamlash, and other places. The Norse raiders found a home in Arran for a long period until the defeat of Haakon V. at Largs (1263) compelled them to retire. The chief name in the island’s history is that of Robert Bruce, who found shelter in the King’s Caves on the western coast. One was reputed to be his kitchen, another his cellar, a third his stable, while the hill above was styled the King’s Hill. From a point still known as King’s Cross he crossed over to Carrick, in answer to the signal which warned him that the moment for the supreme effort for his country was come. In Glen Cloy the ruins of a fort bear the name of Bruce’s Castle, in which his men lay concealed, and on the southern arm of Loch Ranza stands a picturesque ruined castle which is said to have been his hunting-seat. Kildonan Castle, near the south-easternmost point, is a fine ruin of the 14th century, once a royal stronghold. The island gave the title of earl to Thomas Boyd, who married the elder sister of James III., a step so unpopular with his peers that he had to fly the country, and the title soon afterwards passed to the Hamiltons. Brodick Castle, the ancestral seat of the dukes of Hamilton, is a splendid mansion on the northern shore of Brodick Bay.

Brodick is the chief village in Arran, but most of the dwelling-houses have been built at Invercloy, close to the pier. Three m. south (by road) is Lamlash, on a fine bay so completely sheltered by Holy Island as to form an excellent harbour for ships of all sizes. Four m. to the north lies the village of Corrie which takes its name from a rugged hollow in the hill of Am Binnein (2172 ft.) which overshadows it. Daniel Macmillan (1813-1857), the founder of the publishing firm of Macmillan & Co., was a native of Corrie.

About a mile and a half east of Lamlash village lies Holy Island, which forms a natural breakwater to the bay. It is 1¾ m. long, nearly ¾ m. wide, and its finely-marked basaltic cone rises to a height of 1030 ft. The island takes its name from the fact that St Molios, a disciple of St Columba, founded a church near the north-western point. In the saint’s cave on the shore may be seen the rocky shelf on which he made his bed, but his remains were interred in the hamlet of Clachan, some 2 m. from Blackwaterfoot. Off the south-eastern coast, ¾ m. from Port Dearg, lies the pear-shaped isle of Pladda, which serves as the telegraph station from which the arrival of vessels in the Clyde is notified to Glasgow and Greenock.