The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Bass Rock

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BASS (băs) ROCK, a remarkable traprock island, at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, three miles from North Berwick. It is of circular shape, about a mile in circumference, and rises precipitously to a height of 350 feet It is inaccessible except on one flat shelving point on the southeast. Its summit is estimated at about seven acres, and this supports a few sheep, the mutton of which is considered a great delicacy. Solan geese and other seafowl in myriads cover its rocks, and fly around it in clouds. The surrounding water is of great depth on the northeast, but shallow on the south. Among the historical ruins on the island are the remains of a fortalice commanding the landing-place, capable of accommodating upward of 100 men, formerly accessible only by ladders or buckets and chains; and the ruins of a chapel about halfway up the acclivity. The Bass was purchased by the English government in 1671, and its castle, long since demolished, was converted into a state prison in which several eminent Covenanters were confined. It was the last place in Britain that held out against William III, its small band of gallant defenders yielding only to starvation. The island anciently belonged to a family of the name of Lauder, whose head was styled Lauder of the Bass.