1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dumbartonshire

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8207731911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8 — Dumbartonshire

DUMBARTONSHIRE, a western county of Scotland, bounded N. by Perthshire, E. by Stirlingshire, S.E. by Lanarkshire, S. by the Clyde and its estuary, and W. by Loch Long and Argyllshire. There is also a detached portion, comprising the parish of Kirkintilloch and part of that of Cumbernauld enclosed between the shires of Stirling and Lanark. This formerly formed part of Stirlingshire, but was annexed in the 14th century when the earl of Wigtown, to whom it belonged, became heritable sheriff of Dumbartonshire. Dumbartonshire has an area of 170,762 acres or 267 sq. m. The north-west and west are mountainous, the chief summits being Ben Vorlich (3092 ft.), Ben Vane (3004), Doune Hill (2409), Beinn Chaorach (2338), Beinn a Mhanaich (2328), Beinn Eich (2302), Cruach ant Suthein (2244), Ben Reoch (2168), Beinn Tharsuinn (2149), Beinn Dubh (2018), Balcnock (2092) and Tullich Hill (2075). In the south are the Kilpatrick Hills, their highest points being Duncomb and Fynloch (each 1313 ft.). The Clyde, the Kelvin and the Leven are the only rivers of importance. The Leven flows out of Loch Lomond at Balloch and joins the Clyde at Dumbarton after a serpentine course of about 7 m. Most of the other streams are among the mountains, whence they find their way to Loch Lomond, the principal being the Inveruglas, Douglas, Luss, Finlas and Fruin. Nearly all afford good sport to the angler. Of the inland lakes by far the largest and most magnificent is Loch Lomond (q.v.). The boundary between the shires of Dumbarton and Stirling follows an imaginary line through the lake from the mouth of Endrick Water to a point opposite the isle of Vow, giving about two-thirds of the loch to the former county. Loch Sloy on the side of Ben Vorlich is a long, narrow lake, 812 ft. above the sea amid wild scenery. From its name the Macfarlanes took their slogan or war-cry. The shores of the Gareloch, a salt-water inlet 61/2 m. long and 1 m. wide, are studded with houses of those whose business lies in Glasgow. Garelochhead has grown into a favourite summer resort; Clynder is famed for its honey. The more important salt-water inlet, Loch Long, is 17 m. in length and varies in width from 2 m. at its mouth to about 1/2 a mile in its upper reach. It is the dumping-place for the dredgers which are constantly at work preserving the tide-way of the Clyde from Dumbarton to the Broomielaw—its use for this purpose being a standing grievance to anglers. The scenery on both shores is very beautiful. Only a mile separates Garelochhead from Loch Long, and at Arrochar the distance from Tarbet on Loch Lomond is barely 13/4 m. Nearly all the glens are situated in the Highland part of the shire, the principal being Glen Sloy, Glen Douglas, Glen Luss and Glen Fruin. The last is memorable as the scene of the bloody conflict in 1603 between the Macgregors and the Colquhouns, in which the latter were almost exterminated. It was this savage encounter that led to the proscription of the Macgregors, including the famous Rob Roy.

Geology.—Like the other counties along the eastern border of the Highlands, Dumbartonshire is divided geologically into two areas, the boundary between the two being defined by a line extending from Rossdhu on Loch Lomond south-west by Row and Roseneath to Kilcreggan. The mountainous region lying to the north of this line is composed of rocks belonging to the metamorphic series of the Eastern Highlands and representing several of the groups met with in the adjoining counties of Perth and Argyll. Immediately to the north of the Highland border the Aberfoyle slates and grits appear, repeated by isoclinal folds trending north-east and south-west and dipping towards the north-west. These are followed by a great development of the Ben Ledi grits and schists—the representatives of the Beinn Bheula grits and ablite schists of Argyllshire, which, by means of rapid plication, spread over the high grounds northwards to beyond the head of Loch Lomond. Along the line of section between Luss and Ardlui important evidence is obtained of the gradual increase of metamorphism as we proceed northwards from the Highland border. The original clastic characters of the strata are obscured and the rocks between Arrochar and Inverarnan in Glen Falloch merge into quartz-biotite gneisses and albite schists. In the extreme north between Ardlui and the head of Glen Fyne in Argyllshire there is a large development of plutonic rocks piercing the Highland schists and producing marked contact metamorphism. These range from acid to ultrabasic types and include granite, augite-diorite, picrite and serpentine. On the hill-slopes to the west of Ardlui and Inverarnan the diorite appears, while farther west, between the watershed and Glen Fyne, there is a large mass of granite. Boulders of plutonic rocks from this area have been widely distributed by the ice during the glacial period. Immediately to the south of the Highland border line there is a belt of Upper Old Red Sandstone strata which stretches from the shores of Loch Lomond westwards by Helensburgh and Roseneath Castle to Kilcreggan. These sandstones and conglomerates are succeeded by the sandstones, shales, clays and cementstones at the base of the Carboniferous formation which occupy a narrow strip between Loch Lomond and Gareloch and are cut off by a fault along their south-east margin. East of this dislocation there is a belt of Lower Old Red Sandstone strata extending from the mouth of the Endrick Water south-westwards by Balloch to the shore of the Clyde west of Cardross, which is bounded on either side by the upper division of that system. Still farther east beyond Dumbarton the Upper Old Red Sandstone is again surmounted by the representatives of the Cementstone group, which are followed by the lavas, tuffs and agglomerates of the Kirkpatrick Hills, intercalated in the Calciferous Sandstone series. Here the terraced features of the volcanic plateau, produced by the denudation of the successive flows is well displayed. Eastwards by Kilpatrick and Bearsden to the margin of the county near Maryhill the rocks of Calciferous Sandstone age are followed in normal order by the Carboniferous Limestone series; the Hurlet Limestone and Hurlet Coal of the lower limestone group being prominently developed. In the detached portion of the county between Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld there is an important coalfield embracing the seams in the middle or coal-bearing group of the Carboniferous Limestone series. In this county there are several striking examples of the east and west dolerite dykes which are probably of late Carboniferous age. These traverse the Highland schists between Loch Long and Loch Lomond, the Old Red Sandstone area between Alexandria and the Blane Valley, and the Carboniferous tract near Cumbernauld. The ice which radiated from the Dumbartonshire Highlands moved south-east and east towards the central plain of Carboniferous rocks. Hence the boulder clay of the lowland districts is abundantly charged with boulders of schistose grit, slate, gneiss and granite derived from areas lying far to the north-west. Along the shores of the Clyde the broad terraced features indicate the limits of successive raised beaches.

Climate and Agriculture.—There is excessive rainfall in the Highlands, averaging 53 in. at Helensburgh up to nearly 70 in. in the north. The temperature, with an average for the year of 471/2° F., varies from 38° in January to 58° in July, but in the valleys the heat in midsummer is often oppressive. The prevailing winds are from the west and south-west, but easterly winds are frequent in the spring. Frosts are seldom severe, and, except on the mountains, snow never lies long. The arable lands extend chiefly along the Clyde and the Leven, and are composed of rich black loam, gravelly soil and clay. From the proximity to Glasgow and other large towns the farmers have the double advantage of good manure and a ready market for all kinds of stock and produce, and under this stimulus high farming and dairying on a considerable scale prosper. Black-faced sheep and Highland cattle are pastured on the hilly lands and Cheviots and Ayrshires on the low grounds. Oats and wheat are the principal cereals, but barley and potatoes in abundance, and turnips and beans are also grown.

Other Industries.—Turkey-red dyeing has long been the distinctive industry of the county. The water of the Leven being not only constant but also singularly soft and pure, dyers and bleachers have constructed works at many places in the Vale of Leven. Bleaching has been carried on since the early part of the 18th century, and cotton-printing at Levenfield dates from 1768. The establishments at Alexandria, Bonhill, Jamestown, Renton and other towns for all the processes connected with the bleaching, dyeing and printing of cottons, calicoes and other cloths, besides yarns, are conducted on the largest scale. At Milton the first power-loom mill was erected. The engineering works and shipbuilding yards at Clydebank are famous, and at Dumbarton there are others almost equally busy. The extensive Singer sewing-machine works are at Kilbowie, and the Clyde Trust barge-building shops are at Dalmuir. There are distilleries and breweries at Duntocher, Bowling, Dumbarton, Milngavie (pronounced Milguy) and other towns. In fact the Vale of Leven and the riverside towns east of Dumbarton form a veritable hive of industry. In the detached portion, Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld are seats of great activity in the mining of coal and ironstone, and there are besides chemical works and saw-mills in the former town. There is some fishing at Helensburgh and along the Gareloch.

The populous districts of the county are served almost wholly by the North British railway. From Helensburgh to Inverarnan the Highland railway runs through scenery of the most diversified and romantic character. The Caledonian railway has access to Balloch from Glasgow, and its system also traverses the detached portion. Portions of the Forth and Clyde Canal, which connects with the Clyde at Bowling, and was opened for traffic in 1775, pass through the shire. There is regular steamer communication between Glasgow and the towns and villages on the coast, and on Loch Lomond steamers call at several points between Balloch and Ardlui.

Population and Government.—The population of Dumbartonshire in 1891 was 98,014 and in 1901 113,865, of whom 3101 spoke both Gaelic and English and 14 Gaelic only. The principal towns, with populations in 1901, are—Alexandria (8007), Bonhill (3333), Clydebank (21,591), Dumbarton (19,985), Duntocher (2122), Helensburgh (8554), Jamestown (2080), Kirkintilloch (11,681), Milngavie (3481), New Kilpatrick or Bearsden (2705) and Renton (5067). The county returns one member to parliament. Dumbarton, the county town, is the only royal burgh, and belongs to the Kilmarnock group of parliamentary burghs. The municipal and police burghs are Clydebank, Cove and Kilcreggan, Dumbarton, Helensburgh, Kirkintilloch and Milngavie. Dumbartonshire forms a sheriffdom with the counties of Stirling and Clackmannan, and there is a resident sheriff-substitute at Dumbarton, who sits also at Kirkintilloch. The shire is under school-board jurisdiction, but there are several voluntary schools, besides St Peter’s Roman Catholic College in New Kilpatrick. Science, art and technical classes are subsidized out of the whole of the county “residue” and, if necessary, out of part of the burgh “residue” also. Agricultural lectures and the travelling expenses and fees of county students at Glasgow Technical College are also paid for from the same source.

History.—The country is rich in antiquities connected with the aborigines and also with the Romans. The Caledonians and Picts have left their traces in rude forts and tumuli, but of greater interest are remains in several places of the wall of Antoninus, built from the Forth to the Clyde, and running along the north of the detached portion of the shire and through the south-eastern corner of the county to Kilpatrick. Other Roman relics have been found at Duntocher, Cumbernauld and elsewhere. The shire forms part of the old Scottish territory of Lennox (Levenachs, “fields of the Leven”), which embraced the Vale of the Leven and the basin of Loch Lomond, or all modern Dumbartonshire, most of Stirling and parts of the shires of Renfrew and Perth. It gave the title of the earldom created in 1174 by William the Lion and of the dukedom conferred by Charles II. on his natural son, Charles, duke of Richmond and Lennox. In 1702 the Lennox estates were sold to the marquis of Montrose. The captive Wallace was conveyed in chains to Dumbarton Castle, whence he was taken to his death in London. Robert Bruce is said to have mustered his forces at Dullatur prior to the battle of Bannockburn, and died at Cardross Castle in 1329. The Covenanters in their flight from the bloody field of Kilsyth, where in 1645 Montrose had defeated them with great slaughter, made their way through the southern districts. When the Forth and Clyde Canal was being excavated swords, pistols, and other weapons dropped by the fugitives were found at Dullatur, together with skeletons of men and horses. In the Highland country the clans of Macgregor and Macfarlane made their home in the fastnesses, whence they descended in raids upon the cattle, the goods and sometimes the persons of their Lowland neighbours.

See J. Irving, History of Dumbartonshire (Dumbarton, 1860); Book of Dumbartonshire (Edinburgh, 1879); Sir W. Fraser, Chiefs of Colquhoun (Edinburgh, 1869); The Lennox (Edinburgh, 1874); D. Macleod, Castle and Town of Dumbarton (Dumbarton, 1877); Dumbarton (Dumbarton, 1884); Dumbarton: Ancient and Modern (Glasgow, 1893); Ancient Records of Dumbarton (Dumbarton, 1896); J. Glen, History of Dumbarton (Dumbarton, 1876).