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The Lands of Portindrain, in the parish of Strathlachlan

A lost settlement in the parish of Strathlachlan, on the eastern shores of Loch Fyne


Index

  • Introduction.
  • Maps.
  • The households of Portindrain for the 1841 census, with details of the families, their locations for the 1851 census and other subsequent information.
  • Why and When was the settlement abandoned?
  • The Site in the present day.
  • The Enclosing Wall?
  • Other sites of Interest on the coast between Newton Village and Castle Lachlan.

  • Introduction

    The name suggests that a port or landing \ ancorage exisited at the settlement and this would seem to be confirmed by an archaeological survey of 2000 undertaken by the Cowal Archaeological & Historical Society which states "On the shore to the NW is a small rocky inlet that has been used as a harbour, with the remains of three groynes." It also identifies "there are at least three broad flat standing stones about 1m high in a line facing the sea" between what is assumed to be the main part of the settlement and the sea. Certainly back in the 17th century roads would seem to have been mere tracks and any local journey would have been up and down the loch in boats. It would also have seemed like a sensible place to have a ferry of some description. As one comes down the east side of the loch from its head there was a ferry at St Catherines, one at Strachur, and one further south at Otter Ferry. The location of a settlement at Portindrain may also have had ties to the chapel of Kilbride a mile or so to the south, which had a ferry running across the loch to to Brainport Point reputedly up until 1790.

    I would suspect that the name was originally gaelic and something akin to "Port Na Droin". A cursory check for similar sounding gaelic words comes up with (amongst many others) "torran -ain, -an, meaning a Little hill, rising ground, mound or knoll", which would fit taking into consideration the topography of the site. This is of course extremely speculative!

    The ealiest mention of Portindrain I have come across on the web is in an Act of Parliament in favour of "Lauchlan MacLauchlan, laird of MacLauchlan" where it is listed along with the other "lands" under his sway.i.e. "... the lands of Kilbride, with the castle and fortalice of the same, the lands of Kilmore, the lands of Portindryne, the lands of Letterkethen, the lands of Leaniche, ..."

    28 June 1633 - Legislation: private acts - Act in favour of Lauchlan MacLauchlan, laird of MacLauchlan

    ....of all and sundry the lands underwritten, namely: all and whole the lands of Kilbride, with the castle and fortalice of the same, the lands of Kilmore, the lands of Portindryne, the lands of Letterkethen, the lands of Leaniche, the lands of Scrone and Foirling, the lands of Lephinmore, the lands of Leffenneryoch, the lands of Garwoill, the lands of Leffenkyboill, the lands of Leffendrysicht, the lands of Barnacarry, the lands of Kwnochane, the lands of Auchinelethame, the lands of Midewning, the lands of Ewningover, the lands of Callow, the lands of Overchirvane, the lands of Midchirvane, the lands of Kellenewchane, the lands of Struarthour, the lands of Dunoid, the lands of Barnakill, the lands of Dunmuk, the lands of Kilchoan, the lands of Auchnassallycht†, the lands of Nether Kames, the lands of Over Kames, the lands of Dirrelocht, the lands of Dowkennane, the lands of Drynelie, the lands of Gartingour, the lands of Nether Brancalyie and lands of Over Brancalyie.


    Maps

    All images taken from maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland and are for purely non-commercial use. Originals can be viewed on the National Library of Scotland website National Library of Scotland website. Highly recommended.

    Portindrain is shown on Roys map of 1747-52 spelt "Portendryn". It would seem that there may be two distict groups of buildings. The main one would seem to match more or less with where the existing remains have been identified.  However to the right of these and slightly further back is a further pink splodge (below the "rt" of "Portendryn"), which suggests possibly further buildings slightly divorced from the main site.

    In Robert Campbell's map of 1790 Portindrain is shown, with the next habition to the north being "Cretchonie". Interestingly the "road" is shown following the coast through Portindrain to Castle Lachlan and not through Strathlachlan. It then seems to jump across the bay to restart just short of Balnacarry. I suspect this may reflect the route people took but I doubt it was ever a road in the true sense.

    Robert Campbell, - A new and correct map of Scotland or North Britain, with all the post and military roads 1794.

    In Langlands map of 1801 Portindrain is shown as two rectangles at right angles to each other. The road south is now shown going through Strathlachlan.

    Langlands map - 1801

    In The Admiralty chart of 1849 there are a small unnamed group of buildings shown at the correct location for Portindrain. Note also intriguingly named "Black Lass Cove" shown on the coast to the south of the settlement. This is shown on the later OS map surveyed in 1866 "Toll Nighinn Duibhe". The settlement where Balure was marked on the previous maps is now named Newton.

    Admiralty Chart - Scotland West Coast - The Clyde , Loch Fyne - Surveyed 1849

    However by the OS map surveyed in 1866 no buildings are shown, although the oval walled enclosure which is known from the Cowal Archaeological & Historical Society survey of 2000 to encompass at least part of the buildings is clearly delineated.

    6 inch to the mile OS Map - Surveyed: 1866 - Published: 1873

    A plan of the site by the Cowal Archaeological & Historical Society survey of 2000 shows the outlines of the various structures within the the oval walled enclosure, and immediately outside it.

    Cowal survey of 2000.


    The households of Portindrain for the 1841 census, with details of the families, their locations for the 1851 census and other subsequent information.

    For the 1841 census there were 4 families recorded as living in Portindrain..............................

    I have listed these in the order they appear in the census records, between Newton, to the north, and Castle Lachlan to the south.

    The Morrison Household.

    This consisted of the widowed Archibald, an agricultural labourer, his son John, his daughter Barbara, Barabara's son John McLachlan, and a Donald McKay, a Tailor. Whether Donald was a visitor, lodger, or member of the extended family, is unknown. His daughter Barbara had married Donald Maclachlan on 24 June 1834, in Strathlachlan, but as Barbara was recorded as a widow for the later 1851 census, Donald is missing from this census, and there does not seem to have been any additional children born to the couple between the two censuses it seems likely Donald had died prior to this 1841 census.

    Piece: SCT1841/534 Place: Strachur-Stralachlan-Argyllshire Enumeration District: 7
    Civil Parish: Strachur,Stralachlan Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island: Stralachlan
    Folio: 2 Page: 5 Address: Portandrain
    Name Age Occupation County of Birth
    William Morrison 40 Agricultural Labourer Argyllshire
    Barbara Morrison 25   Argyllshire
    Arch'd Morrison 23   Argyllshire
    John McLachlan 2   Argyllshire

    William Morrison had married Ann Blair 24 Feb 1807, Strathlachlan, Argyll, and the births of the following children have been identified in the Strathlachlan OPR:

    The McLachlan household.

    This consisted of John, an agricultural labourer and his wife Elizabeth McNair, along with their son, Donald aged 1.

    Piece: SCT1841/534 Place: Strachur-Stralachlan-Argyllshire Enumeration District: 7
    Civil Parish: Strachur,Stralachlan Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island: Stralachlan
    Folio: 2 Page: 5 Address: Portandrain
    Name Age Occupation County of Birth
    John McLachlan 30 Agricultural Labourer Birthplace blank
    Elizabeth McLachlan 28   Birthplace blank
    Dond. McLachlan 2   Birthplace blank

    John McLachlan had married Elizabeth McNair 14 June 1838, Strathlachlan, Argyll, and the births \ baptisms of the following children have been identified in the Strathlachlan OPR:

    The Gillies Household.

    This consisted of John, an agricultural labourer and his wife Catherine, along with their children, Peter aged 1, and infant Catherine recorded as 3 months.

    Piece: SCT1841/534 Place: Strachur-Stralachlan-Argyllshire Enumeration District: 7
    Civil Parish: Strachur,Stralachlan Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island: Stralachlan
    Folio: 2 Page: 5 Address: Portandrain
    Name Age Occupation County of Birth
    John Gillies 30 Agricultural Labourer Birthplace blank
    Catherine Gillies 28   Birthplace blank
    Dond. Gillies 3   Birthplace blank
    Peter Gillies 1   Birthplace blank
    Catherine Gillies 3 months   Birthplace blank

    John Gillies had married Catherine McNair 20 January 1835, Strathlachlan, Argyll, and the births \ baptisms of the following children have been identified in the Strathlachlan OPR:

    The Crawford Household.

    This consisted of Archibald, who does not have an occupation against his name, but in the later 1851 census was recorded as an agricultural labourer, his wife Catherine, and there children; Janet, Duncan, John`, Archibald, and Alexander. Also included are Janet McEwing and a Harriet McLachlan, both described as Female servants. It seems more likely that they simply either visitors, lodgers, or members of the extended family, and were not actually servants employed in the Crawford household.

    Piece: SCT1841/534 Place: Strachur-Stralachlan-Argyllshire Enumeration District: 7
    Civil Parish: Strachur,Stralachlan Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island: Stralachlan
    Folio: 2 Page: 6 Address: Portandrain
    Name Age Occupation County of Birth
    Archd. Crawford 40   Argyllshire
    Catherine Crawford 40   Argyllshire
    Janet Crawford 10   Argyllshire
    Duncan Crawford 8   Argyllshire
    John Crawford 8   Argyllshire
    Archd. Crawford 5    Argyllshire
    Alexr. Crawford 3   Argyllshire
    Janet McEwing 35 Female Servant Argyllshire
    Henrietta McLachlan 30 Female Servant Argyllshire

    Archibald Crawford had married Catherine McNair - 29 November 1827, Strathlachlan, Argyll, and the births \ baptisms of the following children have been identified in the Strathlachlan OPR:

    The families for the 1851 Census and there after.

    All bar one of these individuals recorded as living in Portindrain in 1841 or born between that census and 1851 can be idetified alive and well in the 1851 censuses. The one individidual not found in the 1851 census can be proven to have been alive somewhere for this census, as he is identified in a later 1869 death certificate.

    The Morrison Family

    For the 1851 census Barbara Morrison, now identified by her married name McLaclan and as a widow, was resident at Upper letter, Strathlachlan, on the coast roughly midway netween Newton and Strachur. Also resident in her household was her son John, was her brother Archibald, and his wife Agnes, with their 2 year old son. Barbara was identified as a farm Servant and Archibald as a Herring Fisherman. Archibald's wife was actually ANNIE McKellar and Archibald and she were married 12 December 1846 in Strathlachlan parish.

    1851 census Strathlachlan (534) Book 5 Page 1
    Upper letter, Strathlachlan, Argyll
    Name Relationship Age Occupation County of Birth
    Barbara McLachlan Head - Widow 35 Farm Servant Strathlachlan, Argyllshire
    John McLachlan Son 14   Strathlachlan, Argyllshire
    Arch'd Morrison Head 38 Herring Fisherman Strathlachlan, Argyllshire
    Agnes Morrison Wife 24 Herring Fisherman's wife Strathlachlan, Argyllshire
    William Morrison Son 2    Strathlachlan, Argyllshire

    What would seem to be Barbara's father was recorded lodging in the household of Duncan McEwing, a shoemaker, at Lower Stronafine, Kilmodan Parish. He was recorded as a mason.

    1851 census Kilmodan (522) Book 2 Page 6
    Lower Stronafine, Kilmodan, Argyll

    Name Relationship Age Occupation County of Birth
    Duncan McEwing Head - Widow 39 Shoemaker Kilmodan, Argyllshire
    Margt Thomson Mother 59   Kilmun, Argyllshire
    Margt McEwing Daughter 9 Scholar Kilmodan, Argyllshire
    Ann McEwing Neice 10 Scholar Rothesay, Bute
    William Morrison Lodger - Widow 59 Scholar Cairndow, Argyllshire

    William Morrison, died on 3 August 1859, at Newtown, Strathlachlan. He was identified as aged 83, a Widower, a Labourer, and the son of Archibald Morrison, a Labourer, and Christina McIntyre, both deceased. The cause of death was givn as "falling of the roof of a house - survived 15 minutes".

    For the 1881 census Barabara Morrison, was recorded as aged 65, a widow, resident at Tighnachroich, neighbouring Upper Letter. What is assumed to be her son John at was recorded at Shonardron House, Kilmoden, resident in the household of Archibald Black, a farmer Of 4500 Acres. Her brother Archibald was recorded at 21 Mill Street, Rothesay, Bute, resident in the household of his son in law David Campbell, a seaman, and his daughter Christina. He was listed as aged 71 and blind.

    Archilbald died on 10 February 1884, at 21 Mill Street Rothesay. He was identified as aged 73, the widower of Annie McKellar, the son of William Morrison, a joiner, deceased, but with his mother's name unknown. The informant was his married daughter Christina Campbell, (born 26 July 1859, Rothesay, Bute), who made her mark.

    Barbara McLachlan, nee Morrison, died on 1 June 1898, at Newtown, Strathlachlan. She was identified as aged 83, the widow of Donald McLachlan, a Fisherman, and the daughter of William Morrison, a Mason, and Ann Morrison, maiden surname Blair, both deceased. The informant was Robert Douglas, of Newton, who was present.

    The McLachlan Family

    For the census of 1851 John and Elizabeth and their family were recorded at Barnacarry, just to the south of Strathlachlan and Castle Lachlan. Again John's occupation has changed from the 1841 census from Agricultural Labourer to Herring Fisherman.

    1851 Scotland Census
    Barnacary, Strathlachlan, Cowal, Argyll
    Name Relationship Age Occupation County of Birth
    John McLachlan Head 43 Herring Fisherman Argyll
    Elizabeth McLachlan Wife 37 Herring Fisherman's wife Argyll
    Donald. McLachlan Son 12 Scholar Argyll
    Peter McLachlan Son 10   Argyll
    Mary McLachlan Son 8   Argyll
    Hennereata McLachlan Son 5   Argyll
    JohnMcLachlan Son 1   Argyll

    For the 1861 census John and Elizabeth were again recorded with their family as resident at Barnacarry with John again recorded as a Herring Fisherman. For the 1871 census the couple were recorded as resident a Leachd, just to the north of Newton. It would seem that John McLachlan died on 10 July 1874, on board a fishing smack, a mile of Cour, Kilbranan, on the Kintyre peninsula. However the death certificate registered in Skipness by the Procurator Fiscal contains virtually no identifying details for this John McLachlan other than he was approx 68. No information is given as to his usual address, his marital status / wife's name, or his parents. Even the cause of death is stated as "Not Known" simply that it was "instantaneous" and "no medical man saw the body"! However there is a will for a "John McLachlan - Fisherman of Leack and Barbacary" registered on 12 December 1874 which confirms that this was John McLachlan, husband of Elizabeth McNair. The fact that on his death his estate was valued at £240 9 shillingss and 9 pence, might suggest that the move from being an agricultural labourer at Portindrain to being, in the main, a herring fisherman was not such a bad one, as I reckon £240 = at least £21,000 in today's money.

    For the census of 1881 Elizabeth was still resident in Leachd but recorded as a widow, confirming John's demise between 1871 and 1881. Elizabeth lived on for another 23 years dying aged 91 on the 11 January 1904, in Leachd. She was identified as the widow of John McLachlan, a fisherman, and the daughter of Patrick McNair, and Henny McNair, maiden surname McLachlan, both (unsurprisingly) recorded as deceased. The informant was Alec McLachlan, son, who was present. Further information on the children of John and Elizabeth is available on request.

    The Gillies Family

    For the 1851 census Catherine, along with her children was recorded as resident in Newton one of the "new" villages established by the Mclachlan's. Her husband John was lodging over in Kilmun, presumably having going to find employment. It is noted that her children born in 1849, 1851, and 1853 would seem to have been registered at having been born at Sunfield which was inland from Newton.

    1851 Census Newton (543) Book 6 Page 2
    Newtown, Strathlachlan, Argyll
    Name Relationship Age Occupation County of Birth
    KatherineGillies Head Absent - Wife 40 Labourer's wife Argyll
    Donald Gillies Son 13   Argyll
    Peter Gillies Son 11    Argyll
    Katherine Gillies Daughter 9    Argyll
    John Gillies Son 6    Argyll
    Alexr Gillies Son 4   Argyll
    Margt Gillies Daughter 3   Argyll
    Helen Gillies Daughter 2   Argyll

    Catherine's husband, John, was recorded lodging at Cuil, Kilmun Parish, in the household of Neil Turner, an Agricultural Labourer. John was also recorded as an Agricultural Labourer.

    1851 Scotland Census
    Cuil, Kilmun, Argyll

    Name Relationship Age Occupation County of Birth
    Neil Turner Head 51 Agricultural Labourer Strachur, Argyll
    Margaret Turner Wife 44   Lochgoilhead, Argyll
    Robert Turner Son 18 Agricultural Labourer Kilmun, Argyll
    Janet Turner Daughter 16 At Home Kilmun, Argyll
    John Turner Son 8 Scholar Kilmun, Argyll
    Rebecca Turner Daughter 5    Kilmun, Argyll
    William McLachlan Visitor 30 Tailor Glasgow, Lanarkshire
    William McIlmoil Lodger - Married 28 Agricultural Labourer Ireland
    John Kerr Lodger 29 Agricultural Labourer Ireland
    John Gillies Lodger - Married 40 Agricultural Labourer Argyll
    John McKellar Lodger - Married 38 Agricultural Labourer Strachur, Argyll

    For the 1861 census Catherine had joined her husband over in Kilmun parish along with their younger children. The family were recorded living in Pier Head Cottage with John employed as a Coach driver. John and Catherine were recorded in Kilmun for the subsequent 1871, 1881 and 1891 censuses living at Brickyard with John simply recorded as a Labourer for the 1871 and 1881 censuses. For the 1891 census they were recorded at Sunnyside. These latter censuses indentified John as born in the Isle of Mull, with the 1871 census specifying Kilmore.

    John Gillies died on 9 April 1892 at Kilmun. He was identified as aged 65, a Labourer, married to Catherine McNair, and the son of ?????? Gillies, a farmer, with his mother's name unknown. The informant was Donald Gillies, his son, who was present. Catherine died on 25 May 1897 in the City Poor House in Glasgow, and was recorded as pauper aged 78 and the widow of John Gillies. She was identified as the daughter of John McNair, a fisherman, and Catherine McNair, maiden name Mclachlan, both deceased. The informant was Margaret McVicar, her daughter, of 116 Craighall Road, Glasgow. (Margaret Gillies had married John Mcvicar 29 June 1871, Govan, Lanarkshire.) Further information on the children of John and Catherine is available on request.

    The Crawford Family

    For the 1851 Archibald and Catherine were recorded along with 4 of their five known children at Burnside, Strathlachlan. This location has not been positively identified. Archibald was recorded as an Agricultural labourer with his eldest son recorded as a herring fisherman.

    John's twin brother Duncan born 1830 included in the 1841 census but missing from this census died 26 June 1868 at Barndachoid, Strathlachlan. He was identified on his death certificate as aged 37, unmarried, a Cartwright, the son of Archibald Crawford, a labourer, and Catherine Crawford, maiden surname McNair. the  informant was his brother Archibald Crawford.

    1851 Scotland Census
    Burnside, Strathlachlan, Argyll

    Name Relationship Age Occupation County of Birth
    Archd. Crawford Head 50 Agricultural labourer Argyllshire
    Catherine Crawford Wife 52   Argyllshire
    Janet Crawford Daughter 22   Argyllshire
    John Crawford Son 8 Herring Fisherman  Argyllshire
    Archd. Crawford Son 16 Scholar Argyllshire
    Alexr. Crawford Son 13 Scholar Argyllshire

    For the censuses of 1861 and 1871 Archibald and Catherine, were recorded as resident in Barnachoid with Archibald identified on both occasions as a Labourer. Barnachoid was a group of buildings \ a farm about the middle of Strathlachlan. Archibald Crawford died on 18 December 1871 at Barndachoid, Strathlachlan. He was identified as aged 70, a Labourer, married to Catherine McNair, and the son of Duncan Crawford, a Labourer, and Euphemia Crawford, maiden surname Thomson, both deceased. The informant was Archibald Crawford, his son, who was present. For the census of 1881 the widowed Catherine was still resident at Barnachoid, and living next door to her son John and his wife Mary and their children, Archibald aged 14, Malcolm aged 13, Duncan aged 10, and John aged 8. Catherine. Two of Archibald's sons were recorded in the 1881 census as Schoolmasters, Archibald at the local school, and Alexander a bit further afield in Knockiandue School in Lochs, Ross & Cromarty.

    Catherine died aged 86 on 1 January 1882 at Barnachoid, Strathlachlan. She was recorded as the widow of Archibald Crawford, as the daughter of John McNair, a fisherman, and Janet McNair, maiden name McBride, both deceased. The informant was John Crwaford, her son, who was present. Further information on the children of Archibald and Catherine is available on request.


    Why and when was the settlement abandoned?.

    It would seem that the settlement was abandoned in the latter years of the 1840's. All the families resident in the 1841 census have moved away by 1845-7 and as far as I can establish it does not appear in the 1851 census.

    There are stories of the settlement being abandoned as a result of a plague or of children getting lost and being drowned in a bog whilst going to find their paremts who had been away at a funeral \ wedding. The fact that what would seem to be the all the individuals of the last group of families can be traced living on beyond the siettlements demise would seem to negate either of these as an direct reason for the abandonment of the site. It is of course possible that other families moved in after the 1841 families left and they were the victims of these misfortunes but this seems unlikely. However it would not seem unlikely that either or both misfortunes had occured sometime in the settlements history, and would have made additional arguements for a move away from the site.

    I suspect the settlements abandonment was was due to a variety of factors..

  • It was remote. The road by passed it, missing out that part of the coast by running through Strathlachlan, and the ridge of hills between the coast \ Portindrain presented an effective barrier to any direct link from the settlement back to the road.
  • The McLachlan estate like most highland estates was introducing sheep on to their lands. This involved moving the tenants off their traditional lands to allow creation of large sheep farms the income from which was substantially more than generated by the scattering of traditional small settlements such as Portindrain. However, unlike some landlords, it would seem the McLachlan estate had been actively providing new hosues in the likes of Newton and Leachd. (Plus I would imagine rebuilding \ improving some of the other buildings in the more accessible locations.) They were also actively encouraging and developing the herring fishing in the loch, a fact demonstrated by the number of individuals described as herring fisherman in the 1851 census as oppose to agricultural labourers in the 1841 census..
  • The housing stock at Portindrain. it would seem likely that the houses would have been the tradiditional relatively primative highland cottages similar to the ferryman's cottage on Loch Katrine, in the Trossachs described by Dorothy Wordsworth during her tour of the highlands in 1803.
  •  

    Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland 1803, by Dorothy Wordsworth

    SATURDAY, AUGUST 27TH. THE TROSSACHS

    We found the ferryman at work in the field above his hut, and he was at liberty to go with us, but, being wet and hungry, we begged that he would let us sit by his fire till we had refreshed ourselves. This was the first genuine Highland hut we had been in. We entered by the cow-house, the house-door being within, at right angles to the outer door. The woman was distressed that she had a bad fire, but she heaped up some dry peats and heather, and, blowing it with her breath, in a short time raised a blaze that scorched us into comfortable feelings. A small part of the smoke found its way out of the hole of the chimney, the rest through the open window-places, one of which was within the recess of the fireplace, and made a frame to a little picture of the restless lake and the opposite shore, seen when the outer door was open.

    Therefore it would seem likely that the move may well have been totally voluntary with little need for persuasion by the landlord to move to less remote and potentially more "modern" house.


    The Site in the present day.

    Investigation of the site 2000 - Sponsored by the Cowal Archaeological and Historical Society.

    Portindrain (Strathlachlan parish) D Dorren - Settlement within enclosure wall - Sponsor: Cowal Archaeological and Historical Society.

    NS 0168 9770 On the E shore of Loch Fyne, half-way between Castle Lachlan and the village of Newton, is a large well-built drystone wall (NMRS NS 09 NW 24) enclosing a roughly oval area of about two acres (0.8ha). The total length of the wall is about 350m. The wall is continuous: there is no entrance, but it is broken down at two points, on the NE and S sides. Within the wall at the S gap is a sheep pen of recent construction. The wall and the pen are marked on the OS map but the enclosed area contains structures that have hitherto passed unrecorded.

    At the N end are the remains of a settlement. About 7m from the NE section of the enclosure wall is the first of three low rectangular stone house footings (a–c) under turf, set in a row with their shorter sides facing NW to the shore. Each is about 9m long and 4–6m wide. Along the end wall of the first structure is a broad flat standing stone supported by a large embedded straight stone that may have been part of the house wall. A knocking stone lies next to it. A faint track runs in front of the three structures, and downhill to the NW across the track are a further two low rectangular, 4.5 x 3m, foundations (d, e) above and adjacent to two large flat rectangular terraces (f, g), 20 x 11m and 13 x 11m.

    The NW front of the terraces is 2–3m high. In line with these, and attached to the smaller one, is a banked rectangular hollow (h), 8 x 9m, at a lower level. Uphill, to the centre and S of the enclosure, is a large mound (j) with an oval bank, 19 x 9m, on the flat summit. Along the S side is a lower bank; below that, a track round the base of the mound which meets the track between the three houses and the terraces, and beyond the track a narrow burn running NE, with a broad, well-made bridge of flat stone slabs measuring 2.7m along the burn and 1.8m across. Near the bridge a field dyke runs under the enclosure wall, indicating that the wall is a later construction.

    Outside the enclosure, to the NE, is an oval turf enclosure (k), 7 x 10m. Between the NW enclosure wall and the shore there are at least three broad flat standing stones about 1m high in a line facing the sea. On the shore to the NW is a small rocky inlet that has been used as a harbour, with the remains of three groynes. The absence of an entrance to the enclosure is interesting, since there is a local recorded tradition that a village in the area was struck by an unspecified plague. It is possible that this was the settlement, and it was later sealed off by building a continuous wall around it. The wall is of drystone construction, beautifully made, with an inward batter, the outer face smooth and decorated near the top with horizontal projecting stones.


    The Enclosing Wall

    There is of course the question of the wall and it's lack of entrances\exits. I suspect we will never know for sure why this was built around the site. As I have already stated I am inclined to disbelieve the theory that the settlement was abandoned due to an outbreak of plague which in itself discounts the theory that the wall was built to isolate the site as sugested as one possibility in the Cowal Archaeological and Historical Society report.

    It would seem possible that this wall and the one surrounding the wooded knoll further up the slope were built to protect the sites from despoilation by the sheep that were to graze the land. This may have been to protect trees that had been planted or to allow the displaced tenents to continue to grow crops in the ground by the abandoned settlement? It is also possible that it was simply a scheme to provide employment for locals at a time when times were hard?

    Any and all theories welcome.

    Photographs from 2012.

    The site of Portindrain approached from the south (Castle Lachlan).

    The Knocking stone and Standing stone identified in the 2000 Survey. The dog is a later additon!!

    The site of Portindrain approached from the north (Newton).


    Other sites of Interest on the coast between Newton Village and Castle Lachlan.

    Castle Lachlan

    Castle Lachlan across the mouth of the River Lachlan.

    Castle Lachlan, or Old Castle Lachlan, is a ruined 15th-century castle on Loch Fyne, Scotland. The old castle fell to ruin after the Clan of Maclachlan supported Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. Their chief joined the Prince's army but was killed at the ill fated Battle of Culloden (1746) by a cannon ball. New Castle Lachlan was built as a replacement in 1790, around 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) to the north-east.

    The Keep of Castle Lachlan.

    You can get further information on the Castle and the current project to preserve the ruins at the Old Castle Lachlan website

    Kilbride Chapel

    The remains of the old Chapel of Kilbride, (Cill Brighde, chapel of Saint Brigit), and a later dwelling can be found on located by Kilbride Island. The chapel, oriented east-west, lies within a circular enclosure with fairly massive walls, believed to possibly be the remains of an Iron Age fortified settlement or cashel that was later adopted by monks or clergy for the enclosure of their early church site. Aerial photos shows the footings of the chapel walls within the cashel.

    Ruins of Kilbride Chapel

    Beyond the cashel to the north-east are the remains of farm buildings and walls belonging to a modern (eighteenth- or nineteenth-century) settlement. A ferry ran from the bay across the loch from Kilbride to Brainport Point and it is suggested that this later dwelling may have been the ferry man's house. I undertand that on the shore, in the lee of Kilbride Island, is the remarkably well preserved landing for the ferry. I have seen a statement on the internet that the ferry ceased in 1790.

    Possibly the remains of the ferry man's house

    A well lies 420m to the east called Tobar an Longairt (‘well of the summer grazing’), but it is not known whether it had any connection to the chapel site, nor if it were ever regarded (in spite of its later and secular name) as a holy well.

    The Island at Newton Bay

    The island itself is interesting containing the remains of an Iron Age fort the walls of which are just about discernable where it faces the shore. One wonders how much the causeway linking the island top the shore owes to the work of man. A set of cup and ring marks have also been identified on the rocks but where, I know not?

    Newton Island - Eilean Math-Ghamhna

    The bay is also fringed by lumps of concrete. This is the remains of structures built to be attacked by troops practcing for the D-Day landings. This was an area which I wandered over as a small boy accompanied by the Newton village dog Glen, looking for treasures such as mortar bomb fins, .303 casings, and the occasional bonus of a live .303!

    Hurricanes attacking Newton Bay - 1944

    Memorial Stone

    On the rocks beyond Newton village there stands a grey granite memorial erected to the memory of Donald Eric MacKay, a student from Alness in Ross-shire. He was drowned in 1926 while swimming in Loch Fyne from this spot.

    Newton Village

    A settlement appears on the Langland's map of 1801 shown as two rectangles parallel to each other idetified as Balure which I believe translates from the Gaelic as "New Town". It is possible Balure may well be the village refered to in the New Statistical Account of 1791-99 for Strachur and Strathlachlan where the author, the Reverend Charles Stewart was promoting the idea of new settlements to house those turned of their traditional lands to make way for the large sheep farms that were taking over much of the highlands viz: "Mr MacLachlan has begun a village on his property in this parish."

    Langlands map - 1801

    It was also seem to have been around this that time herring were appearing in large numbers in Loch Fyne and the McLachlan's were also encouraging their tenants to take up fishing as opposed to the almost subsistance farming that had been traditional. (This is demonstrated in the change in occupation for the ex-Portindrain folks from "agricultural labourer" in 1841 to "herring fisherman" in 1851.) It is understood the Mclachlan lairds would provide boats that could be rented to encourage them in their new life. This attitude to their tenants was in stark contrast to some other estates and the fact that John McLachlan one of the ex-tenents of Portindrain, latterly of Barnacarry, was to have an state valued at £240 9 shillingss and 9 pence, after his sudden death on board a fishing smack suggests that this may have been the tenants standard of living may well have been improved by the changes made by the estate. (£240 = at least £21,000 in today's money.)

    Ballure is shown again in the same place on John Thomson's Atlas of Scotland of 1832.

    Maps home > John Thomson's Atlas of Scotland - 1832

    As previously highlighted in The Admiralty chart of 1849 the settlement where Balure was marked on the previous maps is now named Newton.

    Admiralty Chart - Scotland West Coast - The Clyde , Loch Fyne - Surveyed 1849

    By the time of the on the 6 inch to the mile OS Map surveyed in 1866 and published in 1873, the location has the dual settlements of Newton and Leachd. Whether this Ballure was the actual Newton as we know it now or possibly Leach or even both is unclear.

    6 inch to the mile OS Map Surveyed: 1866 - Published: 1873

    Despite the addition of some modern bungalows and chalets the core of Newton villge would still be recognisable today to the first families to have lived there. It is a place where I spent an all to brief few years as a small boy over 50 years ago, wandering the coast and hills with Glen, the village dog, and which will forever rank in my heart as my Tir nan Og.

    Newton Village in 2012 with Sith an t-Sluain (Fairy Knowe) behind.

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