Zoom into Argyll and Bute

Collated by Veronica Bell.

Argyll and Bute is the second largest administrative area of any Scottish council, with its varied geography consisting of a heavily indented coastline, numerous islands, and a hilly mainland encompassing hundreds of lochs. There is much for the historian to discover, from prehistoric monuments such as Kilmartin, to early Christian sites (most notably Iona).

The history of the Scots people can be traced back to the ancient capital of Dunadd, situated in mid Argyll. Inverary Castle, on the shore of Loch Fyne, has since the eighteenth century been the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Argyll, one of the most powerful noble families in Scottish history. Despite being sparsely populated, Argyll and Bute is popular with tourists for its remoteness, varied landscapes, wildlife watching and whisky distilleries.

Where to find local collections:

Argyll and Bute Library Headquarters https://liveargyll.co.uk/local-studies/ Archives, Lochgilphead https://liveargyll.co.uk/facility/archives/

Books – non fiction:  

Descriptive list of antiquities near Loch Etive, Argyllshire, consisting of vitrified forts, cairns, circles, crannogs, etc. by Dr. R. Angus Smith. 1870-71. [In Early Gaelic Book Collections] https://digital.nls.uk/77372854

Records of Argyll. Legends, traditions, and recollections of Argyllshire Highlanders, collected chiefly from the Gaelic. With notes on the antiquity of the dress .. by (Lord) Archibald Campbell, 1885. https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/sbbkgr/44NLS_ALMA21573696760004341

Argyllshire and Buteshire, by Peter Macnair. 1914. https://archive.org/details/argyllshirebutes00macnuoft/page/n5/mode/2up

Argyle West and Islands, a publication by Scottish Natural Heritage. 2002. https://www.nls.uk/e-monographs/2020/216649983.23.pdf

Argyleshire pronouncing Gaelic dictionary by Neil Macalpine, 1832. https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/sbbkgr/44NLS_DG76239912

Book – fiction:

The lost pibroch: and other sheiling stories, by Neil Munro. 1923. https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/1jc5lod/44NLS_ALMA21605112210004341


Arrival at Whitehart Hotel, Campbeltown. 1914. https://movingimage.nls.uk/film/0795

Sail to Inverary. 1956. https://movingimage.nls.uk/film/1120

Manuscript collections [available to consult in the Library]:

Archive of Argyll Publishing https://manuscripts.nls.uk/repositories/2/resources/20016

Kilberry book of piobaireachd, compiled by Archibald Campbell, numbers 1-8 [and further numbers] https://manuscripts.nls.uk/repositories/2/archival_objects/53796


Soil Survey, Island of Mull, 1972. https://maps.nls.uk/view/107394514

Northern Part of Argyllshire, 1832. https://maps.nls.uk/view/74400146 Southern Part of Argyllshire, 1832. https://maps.nls.uk/view/74400147 [Both in John Thomson’s Atlas of Scotland]

Manuscript map of Kintyre, ca.1636-52, by Robert Gordon. https://maps.nls.uk/view/00000558

An e-resource:

Mull long distance route: a socio-economic study. Scottish Natural Heritage commissioned report no. 743. By V. Wood-Gee, 2014. https://www.nls.uk/e-monographs/2014/743.pdf

A business:

Oban Glass Manufacture. Circa 1970 https://movingimage-onsite.nls.uk/film/T0753

A person:

Campbell, George Douglas (1823-1900), 8th Duke of Argyll. Some of his works and a letter can be found here in the John Murray Archive: https://digital.nls.uk/jma/who/argyll/index.html

A song or piece of music:

Inverary Castle [a strathspey] page 75 of The Skye Collection of the best reels and strathspeys … compiled & arranged for violin & piano by Keith Norman MacDonald. [In the Glen Collection of printed music] https://digital.nls.uk/105832240

A ghost/mythical creature: 

‘The Ghosts of Glenussa’ (pp 100-6) in Argyll’s Highlands, or, MacCailein Mor and the Lords of Lorne. Ed.  John Mackay. 1902. [In Histories of Scottish Families] https://digital.nls.uk/dcn23/9500/95001873.23.pdf

A castle or other historic building:

Ruins of the College and Cathedral in Icolmkill [one of a series of drawings of Iona Abbey in  Hutton Drawings] https://digital.nls.uk/74635654


Programme for the 67th Mod, Oban, 1970. [In An Comunn Gàidhealach > Royal National Mòd Programmes and fringe events] https://digital.nls.uk/125548975

Programme for the 112th Mod, Oban, 2015 [also in An Comunn Gàidhealach…] https://digital.nls.uk/125652018

A photograph:

S.S. “Columba” at Ardrishaig.  [In the Mackinnon Collection. 1840s mid 20th century] https://digital.nls.uk/learning/from-shore-to-shore/locations/west/index.html#gallery-15

Something about the county town:

Lochgilphead reel in Selection of music for the highland bag-pipe, by Colin Maclauchlan, 1876 [In Glen Collection of printed music] https://digital.nls.uk/105012965

Something about a village or small place:

Isle of Tiree 1768-1769 (Argyll Estate instructions: Mull, Morvern, Tiree 1771-1805)[In Scottish History Society volumes] https://digital.nls.uk/127711665

Further reading:

The distilleries of Campbeltown: the rise and fall of the whisky capital of the world, by Stirk, David. 2017. https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/1jc5lod/44NLS_ALMA21535838370004341

The Mark of the Horse Lord, by Rosemary Sutcliff. 1965. https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/1jc5lod/44NLS_ALMA21428292120004341

Cradle of the Scots: an Argyll anthology, by B.D. Osbourne, R. Armstrong and R. Renton. 2000. https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/sbbkgr/44NLS_ALMA21585171120004341