RMS II (123) 1429, (917) 1466, (1214) 1475, (1787) 1488, (2421) 1498, (2776) 1503, (2947) 1505-6, (2987-8) 1506, (3061) 1506-7, (3495) 1510
RMS III (820) 1529, (1082-3) 1531, (1321) 1533, (1376, 1377, 1378-9, 1405) 1534, (2006) 1539, (2146) 1540, (2489-2490) 1541, (2583) 1541-2, (3263, 3303) 1546
RMS IV (50) 1545-6, (97, 166) 1547, (688-9, 692) 1552, (766) 1552-3, (881, 891) 1553-4, (1139) 1556, (1409) 1561-2, (1731) 1566, (2115) 1572-3, (2401) 1575, (2976) 1579-80
RMS V (1541) 1588, (1810) 1590-1, (2160) 1592
RMS VI (237) 1594-5, (1156) 1601, (2052) 1608
RMS VII (1232) 1615, (1605) 1617, (1813) 1618
RMS VIII (1974) 1632
RMS X (403) 1655, (617) 1657
RMS XI (541) 1663, (950) 1666, (1105) 1667
RSS I (63-64) 1496, (327) 1498-9, (713) 1501, (1317) 1506, (2098) 1510, (3790) 1527
RSS IV (219) 1549, (2788) 1554
RSS V.I (1039) 1562, (1591) 1563-4
RSS V.II (3056, 3059) 1566
RSS VII (1125) 1577
AS I (8) 1617, (20, 30-32, 46, 49) 1618, (70, 80) 1619, (137, 154, 159, 173) 1621, (186, 207, 226) 1622, (254) 1643, (334) 1651, (480, 481, 493-4) 1673, (511-12, 523, 542, 581, 593) 1674, (604, 626, 637, 639, 640-2, 647, 649, 652-3) 1675
AS II (12) 1618, (74) 1619, (81) 1620, (360) 1631, (416, 442) 1632, (713, 724-6) 1643, (743) 1647, (765) 1648, (777) 1651, (852, 866-8, 873, 875, 877) 1654, (880) 1655, (942) 1657, (966) 1658, (983-4) 1659, (1004, 1011-12) 1661, (1031-2, 1035, 1037-8, 1046) 1662, (1104, 1112) 1663, (1212, 1238) 1665, (1253, 1255-6, 1273, 1311) 1666, (1344) 1667, (1403, 1411, 1415, 1432, 1435, 1438, 1442) 1668, (1464, 1486-7, 1524) 1669
Registrum Monasterii de Passelet p 15
ER V pp 79-89, 162-169, 208-214, 249-255, 287-291, 331-335, 359-366, 406-413
ER XII p 509 ff
ER XVII p 743
RH1/2/93 before 13/2/1321
RHP 14107 – J Foulis – Survey of Bute 1758-9
RHP 14262 Kames Estate
RHP 14629 Kames Estate 1807/1810
RHP 30215 1838
J Hewison, The Isle of Bute in the olden time, Edinburgh 1893-5
A Hannah, Bute farm names with personal name elements, Transactions of the Buteshire Natural History Society, 25 (2000), pp 61-7
P Dewar, Place-names of Bute, Transactions of the Buteshire Natural History Society, 6 (1912/1913)
W Ross, (ed.), Blain’s History of Bute, Rothesay, 1880.
We have valuations for most of the farms in Bute from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Our earliest evidence comes from the Exchequer Rolls where what is given is not a land valuation but a rental. However, as with Exchequer Rolls evidence elsewhere in the Highlands, there seems to have been a simple 1:1 correspondence between money rent and merkland valuation in these early returns. In the case of Bute there is a great deal of later documentary evidence which, almost without exception, supports this argument. Most of the farms in Bute can be mapped from 1437 using documents in the Exchequer Rolls, the Registers of the Great and Privy Seals, the Argyll Sasines, the Retours and the 1751 Argyll Valuation Roll. We have maps by Blaeu and Roy and an estate map by Foulis in 1758-9. Putting all of these together the evidence concerning land-assessment is remarkably consistent. Farm valuations remained unchanged for centuries although there was a degree of internal subdivision. So, for instance, Langil was originally worth 12m but was subdivided into 4 x 3m units, some of which were later subdivided into 20s (1½m) holdings. The valuations are always in Old Extent.
Bute was divided into two parishes, Kingarth and Rothesay, which we can roughly map on the basis of the data in ER XII p 509 ff of 1507. The boundary seems to have run from between Rothesay and Ascog in the north-east along Lochs Fad and Quien to Scalpsie Bay in the south-west. (This border may have fluctuated slightly – in 1507 the Exchequer Rolls list Kerrycrusach in Kingarth whereas Origines Parochiales Scotiae places it in Rothesay). There is a degree of uncertainty about the values of some farms – for instance Ascog. There are also farms such as Blardive (listed in 1437) which may have been absorbed into other units but about which I can draw no firm conclusions.
The Pennyland valuation
We have little evidence for pennylands in Bute. We have three pennyland valuations in RH1/2/93 which dates to before 13 February 1321. (To complicate matters I think two of these three were very large and contained properties which later became separate). There are also two farms – Lenihall and Lenihuline – in which the first element is undoubtedly a contraction of Leth-pheighinn or half-pennyland. There are other names in Bute and Arran with a similar first element which may have the same derivation but for which we have no early documentary sources – Leninteskine in Bute being one example. Given the paucity of direct evidence I have supposed that the pennyland to merkland ratio in Bute was the same as that for its neighbour Arran, which probably came within the fiscal reach of the Scottish kingdom at about the same time. In Arran the ratio was 1d to 6m.
I find 119¾m in Kingarth parish and 193½m in Rothesay parish making a total of 313¼m. If we include Inchmarnock in Rothesay then the total for Rothesay becomes 201m and the total for Bute is 320¾m. This might suggest that Bute had a nominal total value of 360m which was 3 ouncelands. The parish of Kingarth seems to have been more or less exactly 1 ounceland or 120m whilst Rothesay was notionally 2 ouncelands or 240m. (A note of caution should be sounded since this assumes that Rothesay parish has lost about 40m of its original assessment). Rothesay parish may itself have been made up from two once-separate ounceland parishes and the natural boundary between them would appear to be the low ground between Kames and Ettrick Bay.
The situation in Bute is complicated by the fact that feudal assessments in merklands overlay the earlier valuations. In particular a knight’s fee was £20 or 30m and there are several farms in Bute which reflect proportions of this. Kingarth (at the southern head of the parish) was a £20 estate and Bute contains 8 farms worth £5 (or 7½m) which are each a quarter of a knight’s fee. If, however, we do a frequency analysis of the values of all the farms in Bute it is striking how many are fractions or multiples of the number 6. Of some 63 early farms in Bute (counting Kilmory as 1), 27 are worth 12m (2d), 9m (1½d), 6m (1d), 3m (½d) or 1½m (¼d). The most common farm size was 3m or ½d (16 examples or about one-quarter of all the farms).
After Scoulag (16m) and Kilchattan (originally 14m), the largest farms in Bute were the five 12-merk or 2d units. Two of these, Langil and Ardroscadale, are clearly Norse. Dunalunt, was probably an important Dark Age military centre whilst Kames was the base of a mediaeval estate. Kilmory, like Kilchattan, must have been a major religious unit. It appears that the pennyland assessment system involved a degree of structural support for the church. This is evidenced by the number of Kil-names which are farms worth ½d or more. In Bute there are:
Kilchattan 14m (2⅓d) in 1437
Kilmory 12m (2d)
St Colmac 7½m (1¼d)
Kilbride 6m (1d)
Kildavanan 3m (½d)
Hannah has argued that Kilwhinleck (5½m in 1507) is not a Kil-name but Blain (1880) claimed there was formerly a chapel here.
Another name regarded as significant elsewhere is ‘Kerry’ which is a corruption of ceathramh or quarterland. There are 10 examples in Bute:
Kerrymenoch (by Stravanan) 2m
Kerrylamont 5m (The name Lamont (lawman) derives from the Norse).
Kerrymenoch (by Kerrytonlia) 3m
There is also Kerrytriach (by Kilmichael in the north of the island) for which I have no valuation. (Cretriach Hill, at NR 9971, is marked Kerrytriach on the Roy Protracted Copy).
In general terms Kerr-names refer to davachs – of which they were quarters. By analogy with Kintyre where 1 davach was the same as 1 pennyland we should expect a davach to be worth 6m in Bute. On this basis a quarterland should be worth 1½m but in Bute they are all worth more than this. It may be that Kerry does not always imply a quarter of some absolute unit like an ounceland or davach but simply a quarter of whatever unit was being subdivided. Kerenevin and Keremoran, for instance, seem to have been subdivisions of a Scoulag estate worth 16m. Unfortunately I don’t think we have enough data to come to robust conclusions about Kerr-names in Bute.
One of the more difficult issues with islands like Arran and Bute (where we know there were pennylands) is that their total ounceland value is very small compared to islands north of Ardnamurchan. How is Bute only worth 3 ouncelands when Eigg is worth 5? I think the answer is that ouncelands were mapped to davachs in a different way north and south of Ardnamurchan. In the north-west a davach and an ounceland were regarded as equivalent. In Kintyre and, I think, Arran and Bute, one pennyland (ie one-twentieth of an ounceland) was worth one davach. (This does not seem so unreasonable if we reflect that in the far north of Scotland there seem to have been 3 davachs to an 18-penny ounceland – i.e. each davach was worth 6d).
One pennyland was worth 4m (Scots) in Kintyre; in Bute and Arran it was worth 6m. The total value of Bute was probably 360m (Scots) or 3 ouncelands (Norse) at 120m per ounceland. This would also mean it was worth 60 davachs (Pictish or Cumbric). In davach terms there is not the same mismatch with islands north of Ardnamurchan. Bute’s 60 davachs now fare much better against Eigg’s 5 davachs.