Kintyre Sources

Kintyre Sources


RMS I App 1 (20, 99, 105)

RMS II (163) 1430

RMS II (461) 1451 (Kilcolmkill)

RMS II (1480) 1481 (40m from James III to Tearlach Makalexander as steward)

RMS II (1485) 1481 (James III to Lord of the Isles)

RMS II (2261) 1495 (James IV to Duncan Forestare of Skipness, 36m)

RMS II (2329) 1496

RMS II (2454) 1498 & (2500) 1499 (James IV to Adam Rede of much of Carradale)

RMS II (3136) 1507

RMS II (3170) 1507-8 (Saddell Abbey)

RMS II (3440) 1510

RMS II (3622) 1511

RMS III (345) 1525-6

RMS III (2756) 1542 (James V gives 4m Arnicle & (Low) Ugadale to Ewir M’Cay More as crowner).

RMS III (3085) 1545 (Grant from Mary to James Macdonald of Dunyvaig)

RMS IV (800) 1553 (Machrihanish)

RMS IV (921) 1554 (Machrihanish)

RMS IV (953) 1554 (Killellan)

RMS IV (1272) 1558 (Similar to RMS III (3085) 1545)

RMS IV (2823) 1578-9 (St Ninian’s)

RMS V (41) 1580

RMS V (2207) 1592

RMS VI (554) 1597

RMS VI (610) 1574

RMS VI (784) 1598

RMS VI (870) 1599

RMS VI (1018) 1600 (Largie estate – 61m)

RMS VI (1240) 1601

RMS VI (1772) 1606 (Carradale)

RMS VI (1911) 1607 (James VI to Earl of Argyll – N & S Kintyre)

RMS VI (1966) 1607 (James VI to Earl of Argyll – 78½m in N & S Kintyre)

RMS VII (126) 1609 (St Ninian’s lands)

RMS VII (432) 1611 (Carradale)

RMS VII (760) 1612 (Saddell Abbey)

RMS VII (1243) 1615 (Saddell Abbey)

RMS VII (1361) 1615 (Arnicle & Ugadale)

RMS VIII (545) 1623 (Skeirchenzie)

RMS VIII (929) 1626 (as RMS VI (1911)

RMS VIII (2009) 1632 (St Ninian’s lands) – original 1614

RMS IX (334) Kilcolmkill – original 1622

RMS IX (2183) 1650 (Largie estate)

RMS XI (541) 1663 (Saddell, St Ninian’s, Skeirchenzie))

RMS XI (1105) 1667 (as RMS VI (1911)


RSS I (368) 1499 (Killellan)

RSS I (1549) 1507 (Achnaclach estate)

RSS I (2002) 1509-10 (Gortenafail)

RSS I (2306) 1511 (Killellan)

RSS II (3098) 1539 (Machrihanish)

RSS II (4600) 1542 (Machrihanish)

RSS IV (408) 1549 (North Kintyre)

RSS IV (1497) 1551-2 (Machrihanish)

RSS IV (1534) 1551-2 (Killellan)

RSS V, i (1112) 1562 (Tack to James Macdonald)

RSS V, i (1259) 1562-3 (Similar to RSS V, i (1112) 1562)

RSS V, i (1683) 1564

RSS V, i (1879) 1564 (Similar to RSS V, i (1112) 1562)

RSS VIII (1743) 1583-4 (Similar to RSS V, i (1112) 1562)


RRS V (239) 1323 (Glen Breackerie)


ER XII pp 352-366 (Account of Earl of Argyll, Chamberlain of Kintyre, from

1/8/1502 to 28/7/1505 ie 6 terms. Includes land-valuations).

ER XII p 363 1502-5 (40m to baillie as in RMS II (1480) 1481)

ER XII pp 576-587 (Account of Earl of Argyll, Chamberlain of Kintyre, from

28/7/1505 to 14/9/1507 ie 4 terms – less land-assessment detail).

ER XII pp 698-703 (Rental of Kintyre 7/7/1505)

ER XII pp 704-709 (Rental of Kintyre 6/6/1506)

ER XV p 163 (1521-5), p 431 (1525-8)

ER XVI pp 104-5 (1528-31)

ER XVII pp 625-33 (Tack & rental 25/6/1541)

ER XVII pp 649-50 (Summary rental >=1542)


AS I (110, 113, 120, 125) 1620, (216) 1622, (315) 1650, (341) 1651, (371-2) 1658, (424) 1632, (450-1) 1660, (487) 1673,  (531, 571, 577) 1674, (620, 660, 663) 1675

AS II (174) 1623, (198) 1626, (229) 1627, (296) 1629, (359) 1630, (374) 1631 (424) 1632, (452, 457-8) 1633, (499, 504) 1634, (644) 1639, (821) 1654, (882-3) 1655, (1090, 1109) 1663, (1495, 1498, 1525, 1527, 1531) 1669


Argyll Retours (8) 1605, (20, 21) 1619, (22) 1620, (25) 1621, (41) 1632, (87) 1683

Argyll Retours (29) 1627 Largie estate (61m)

Argyll Retours (89) 1685 & (95) 1696 refer to 3m Loggane or Loggan and 3m Daugaine or Dangayne in North Kintyre. The former is probably Laggan but I am unsure what the latter is supposed to be.

NAS GD 112/2/9/25 1673

Argyll & Bute Archives, FH31, Rental of South Kintyre 1543

Historical Manuscripts Commission, Fourth Report, p 475 No 33 (St Ninian’s 1669)

H Campbell, Genealogist Vol 36, p 122, MacNeill Inventory (8) 1542 (Machrihanish)

Registrum Monasterii de Passelet, Maitland Club, Paisley, 1877


HP III p 73 ff 1596 (List of lands in Kintyre)

HP III p 79 ff 1605 (List of lands in Kintyre)

HP IV pp 142-4, 146-9 (Saddell Abbey)

NLS MS 3367 1678 (Rental of Kintyre by parish)


Minutes of the Synod of Argyll 1639-1651, SHS, Edinburgh, 1943

Minutes of the Synod of Argyll 1652-1661, SHS, Edinburgh, 1944

AL Brown, The Cistercian Abbey of Saddell, Kintyre, Innes Review Vol XX, 2, 1969

JG Dunbar & AAM Duncan, Tarbert Castle, SHR (50) pp 16-17, 1971

Duncan, A.A.M., & Brown, A.L., Argyll and the Isles in the Earlier Middle Ages, PSAS pp 192-220, 1956-57

A McKerral, Kintyre in the Seventeenth Century, Edinburgh, 1948

Frank Forbes Mackay, MacNeill of Carskey – His Estate Journal, Edinburgh, 1955

DC MacTavish, The Commons of Argyll, Lochgilphead, 1935

ER Cregeen (ed.), Inhabitants of the Argyll Estate, 1779, Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 1963

AIB Stewart (ed.), List of Inhabitants upon the Duke of Argyle’s Property in Kintyre in 1792, Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 1991

C Burns (ed.), Papal Letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon 1378-1394, Scottish History Society, Edinburgh, 1976

KA Steer & JWM Bannerman, Late Medieval Monumental Sculpture in The West Highlands, RCAHMS, Edinburgh, 1977

Place-Names of the Parish of Campbeltown, Kintyre Antiquarian & Natural History Society, 2009

Place-Names of the Parish of Southend, Kintyre Antiquarian & Natural History Society, 2009



Cartographic sources


We have a lot of cartographic evidence for Kintyre. From the end of the sixteenth century we have the mass of data provided by Timothy Pont which passed into the Blaeu Atlas and the Gordon map of Kintyre. There are detailed descriptions in Macfarlane’s Geographical Collections Vol II, pp 186-8 & 526-7, which must also derive ultimately from Pont. From the middle of the eighteenth century we have coverage of Kintyre in the Roy military map and I have made use of Sheets 8, 29 & 53 from the Protracted Copy in the British Library. From the latter part of the eighteenth century we have an increasing number of estate plans and by 1850 much of Kintyre is covered. Many of these plans survive in the Colville and MacTaggart collections which are to be found in Argyll and Bute Archives, Lochgilphead. I have not listed them individually here but references to most of them will be found in the tables.


Particular mention should be made of the contribution of the Langlands family. George Langlands was employed extensively in Kintyre and he and his son Alexander were responsible for a number of important maps. George produced a map of the united parish of Killean and Kilchenzie dated December 1777 (RHP 4300). This gives details of all the merkland valuations of the farms and I have included his data in my table for North Kintyre. Unfortunately it is not always clear which farms are subdivisions of which and so I have been unable to fully match his data with that from earlier documentary sources. He also produced a plan of the Saddell estate in 1784 (RHP 3294) and in 1793 a map of Kintyre and South Knapdale (copy in National Library of Scotland). British Library MS 33632A is a manuscript draft which bears a close (but not exact) relationship to this last. In 1801 Langlands then published a map of Argyllshire in 4 sheets (copy in NLS) – one of which deals with Kintyre in great detail.


Plan of Carradale Estate by Lewis D Robertson, 1827

Argyll & Bute Archives, DR 3/3/9 1854

RHP 174 c. 1735

RHP 4300, Plan of Killean and Kilchinzie, G Langlands, 1777

RHP 3294, Plan of Saddell Glen, G Langlands, 1784

RHP 7176, Part of E Kilblaan, G Langlands, 1786

RHP 31882, Plan of Machrihanish, G Langlands, 1810

RHP 31883, Plan of Drumore Estate, 1828, cf Argyll & Bute Archives DR 4/9/116

NLS Map Library, A Map of the District of Kantyre in Argyllshire, G Langlands, 1793.

British Library MS 33632A

NLS Map Library, Map of Argyllshire, G Langlands, 1801.





The definition of Kintyre


The geography of Kintyre suggests that it begins at Tarbert and ends at the Mull. The circumstantial evidence we have from Norse times certainly endorses this definition. Magnus Bareleg had himself hauled across the isthmus in 1098 in order to claim it as an island. Bruce exorcised this ghost in 1315 by doing likewise. Kilcalmonell is described as being in Kintyre in 1247 (Paisley Register p 123) and 1261 (Paisley Register (pp 120-1). The problem is that during the high Middle Ages Kintyre north of Allt an t-Sionnaich was described as being in the lordship of Knapdale or, more simply, in Knapdale. (See, for instance, Munro, ALI No 58 of 1455). This persists into the Exchequer Rolls listings at the beginning of the sixteenth century which only reach as far north as Carnbeg on the west coast and Crossaig on the east coast. This long-lived ambiguity must be borne in mind in any summary of the land-assessment picture.



Early sources


Although the vast majority of our data for Kintyre comes from the period after 1480 there are some important early documents which we should try and interpret. I will only discuss those which have a bearing on land-assessment and I shall approach these in roughly chronological order.


In 1247 Pope Innocent IV issued a letter of protection to one Dugald (Duibgaldus in CPL I p 231; Dinbgaldo in Theiner No CXIX, p 46) who was Lord of Macherummel in Kintyre. In 1262 (NLS MS Adv. 29.4.2 II ff 27-28) Dugall, son of Sweyn, gave Walter Stewart, Earl of Menteith, all his land of Scyphynche ‘cum duabus ungnys MacCrunnel’. He also gave his whole land of ‘Kelessleth’ to the west of ‘Tarberth’ and his whole land of ‘Belelach’ in ‘Trolstyr’. It seems pretty certain that the same Dugall is being referred to in 1247 and 1262 and that his estate in Kintyre was called Macherummel or MacCrunnel. Scyphynche is Skipness (NR 9057) so can we locate any of the other places mentioned?


Unfortunately there are no places in North Kintyre which still contain the element ‘machair’. There are three in South Kintyre: Machrihanish at c. NR 6521; Macharioch in NR 7309 and Machrimore (& Beg) in NR 6909/6908/6808. However, given that Dugall specifically excludes the pennyland and church of Kilcalmonell (NR 7656), which he had already given to Paisley Abbey (Reg. Pass. pp 120-1), we might surmise that the two ‘ungnys’ (presumably tirungs) of MacCrunnel were in the Kilcalmonell/Skipness area.


Alternatively one might argue that since Kilcalmonell is described as ‘of Skipness’, both in this document and in Reg. Pass. pp 121-2, then the ‘ungs’ of MacCrunnel should be sought elsewhere. Since one of the witnesses was rector of Kilblaan, a parish in South Kintyre which contained Macharioch and was close to Machrimore, perhaps MacCrunnel was, after all, in South Kintyre. I don’t think we have enough evidence to come to a firm conclusion.


At the Kintyre rate of exchange where 1 pennyland was 4m these two ‘ungnys’ were worth 160m so must have covered a very substantial area. (There were only 8 ouncelands in the whole of Kintyre so this estate represented a quarter of the peninsula). In addition Dugall gave his lands of ‘Kelessleth’ to the west of ‘Tarberth’ which sounds like Caolisleat in South Knapdale which is indeed west of Tarbert. I do not know where ‘Belelach in Trolstyr’ is although I think it possible the latter name may represent Glassary. The MacSweens were certainly lords of much of Knapdale and North Kintyre while Castle Sween in Knapdale takes its name from them. By 1262 they were evidently being dispossessed by the Stewarts of Menteith who subsequently styled themselves ‘Lords of Arran and Knapdale’.


Secondly there is a letter from Alexander of the Isles to Edward 1 (Summer 1296) which is printed in an article on Tarbert castle by JG Dunbar & AAM Duncan (SHR 50 pp 16-17). Alexander lists the landholders of Kintyre (and their holdings) as follows:

John Comyn 100m

Himself (Alexander Macdonald) £40 (60m)

Abbot of Iona as much (ie £40 or 60m)

Bishop of Argyll as much or more (i.e. at least £40 or 60m)

Abbot of Saddell £30 and more (i.e. at least 45m).

There is reference to an unnamed castle of Kintyre which the Steward still has in his hands – but which Alexander could take from him. Alexander has also taken the Earl of Menteith’s lands in Argyll.


What sense can we make of these figures? I do not know what lands John Comyn held though it would seem logical to look for them in the charters granted by Bruce after his success in the Wars of Independence. (These are discussed below). I suspect they once also included the 4m of Cour and Sunadale which are later recorded as belonging to Ardchattan Priory. The Comyns and the Macdougalls (who founded Ardchattan) were close allies during Bruce’s reign and this 4m unit was probably given to Ardchattan between its foundation in 1230 or 1231 and whenever the Comyn’s lost their lands in Kintyre after defeat by Bruce. Alexander Macdonald’s holding of 60m happens to match with the later Macdonald estate of Largie (also notionally 60m) but the evidence is too tenuous to equate them.


We can be more concrete about Iona’s £40 land. In the list of churches belonging to Iona in 1203 (Book of Islay pp 5-8) there is listed ‘Chelcenneg’ which is probably Kilchenzie in Kintyre. (The parsonage of ‘Skeirkenze in Kintyre’ belonged to Iona in 1561 (CRA p 3)). The Skeirchenzie estate is not among those Iona lands listed in 1203 but is given as a 40m land (£26 13s 4d) in the Abbey’s possession in 1561 (CRA p 3). Given the evidence from 1296 I think that both the church of Kilchenzie and its associated parish of Skeirchenzie (literally ‘parish of Kenneth’) belonged to Iona in 1203. The other lands which we know were held by Iona were the 9m in upper Glencarradale consisting of the farms of Brackley, Barmollach, Craigmore and Auchinbreck. These are listed in AS II (174) & RMS VIII (545) of 1623, AS II (644) 1639, AS I (341) 1651, (372) 1658 and the 1678 rental. We know that these lands belonged to Iona at an early date because they are referred to obliquely in RMS I App 1 (105) which is dated in OPS II, II, p 819 to 1306-9. Grianan is there described as being between the lands of the Abbacy of Iona and Ardcarradale – which it is.


So far we have 49m for Iona (40m Skeirchenzie, 9m Upper Glencarradale). It may be that we should add the churchlands of Kilchenzie since the parsonage is listed separately in 1561. The parsonage of Keilcheirran in Kintyre is also listed in 1561 but if this is Kilkerran then it had earlier belonged to Paisley Abbey (Cowan p 101). Even if we add on a notional 1 pennyland (or 4m) for each of two parish churches we do not find more than 57m belonging to Iona in Kintyre so it looks as if its holding in 1296 was rounded up.


The Bishop of Argyll was supposed to have the same – £40 or 60m in Kintyre. At first sight this seems unlikely since we have no records from later times of farms held by the Bishopric. The only way I can make sense of this is to assume that the letter was including all the parish churches (and dependent chapels) of Kintyre. At this period I think parish churches were usually endowed with a pennyland (which was equivalent to 4m). Evidence from c. 1590 (Macfarlane’s Geographical Collections Vol II pp 186-8 & 526-7) states that there were then 10 parish churches in Kintyre plus Saddell. Going back 300 years to 1296 I suspect that there were then at least the same number of parishes and possibly a few more. From these we must deduct Kilcalmonell, Kilkerran and Kilchenzie which were all given to Paisley or Iona before the date of the letter. To reach a 60m estate for the bishopric we would have to assume 15 parishes (beyond the 3 mortified) at 4m each. Or we could suggest a mix of parish churches at 4m and dependent chapels at 2m or less. The table of Kintyre parishes shows that this is not unrealistic. Even if we exclude the estates of Iona, Saddell, Whithorn and Ardchattan the episcopal church could well have owned 60m in Kintyre.


Saddell Abbey at 45m is more tangible. I have set out Saddell Abbey’s properties in a separate table and in 1556 those in Kintyre were thought to come to 48m (actually 47⅛m). From these we should deduct (at least) 2m Knockhantybeg, ⅝m Kellipol and 2m Lesenmarg since these were not donated before 1296. (I am not sure when Eilean Davaar, worth either ⅜m or ½m, was given). We now end up with between 42 and 43 marks which is pretty close to the figure of 45m.


Duncan and Brown argue that the unnamed castle in Kintyre was in fact Dunaverty and that Alexander’s letter implies that it was then the only castle in Kintyre. Where then were Tarbert and Skipness castles? (They reckon that Tarbert Castle was built before the middle of the thirteenth century and Skipness Castle is on record in 1261). They suggest that the Tarbert and Skipness area may then have lain in Knapdale with the Claonaig Water as a northern boundary to Kintyre. As we have seen, the northern boundary of Kintyre was set at different places in different times. In 1247 Kilcalmonell was said to be in Kintyre and the documents from the 1260s in the Paisley Register certainly imply that the parish of Kilcalmonell included Skipness. However at some stage thereafter the northernmost part of Kintyre (I think from Allt an t-Sionnaich to just south of Oragaig) came to be included in Knapdale. It may be that this took place between the 1260s and 1296.


Finally we have an unspecified quantity of lands belonging to the Earl of Menteith. These are said to have been in Argyll rather than Kintyre – but some of them may have lain in that part of Northern Kintyre by now regarded as Knapdale. On the basis of the 1262 charter quoted above we would expect these to include Skipness and the two ouncelands of MacCrunnel. This is partly confirmed by information contained in grants to Paisley Abbey recorded in the Paisley Register. In 1262 Walter Stewart, Earl of Menteith, confirmed a gift by Dougal, son of Sween, of the church of Kilcalmonell with its associated pennyland. This gift had been made by Dougal before he conveyed his land of Skipness to Walter. Now we do not know quite what the land of Skipness included but RMS II (2261) of 1495 details 36m – 24m on the eastern side of Kintyre, 12m in the west. If we assume that 1d (4m) of church land is not included then the total comes to 40m or 10d or half an ounceland. It is quite possible that this is the ‘land of Skipness’ referred to in 1262. We should also include the two ‘ungnys MacCrunnel’ discussed earlier. In theory these could amount to another 160m (80m each) – which might be extra to the 40m of Skipness. The Menteith estate in Kintyre could have been a minimum of 160m, a maximum of 200m. As we have already seen, it is also possible that the two ‘ungnys MacCrunnel’ may actually have lain in South Kintyre, perhaps in the vicinity of Dunaverty which is itself close to Machribeg, Machrimore and Kilblaan.


We do not need to interpret the details of the 1296 letter too violently for it to fit well with what we know of Kintyre’s land-assessment in later years. The total given by Alexander is at least 325m. If we assume another 200m for the Earl of Menteith we arrive at a total of about 525m. Nevertheless we should recognize that the 1296 letter, however we define Kintyre, could not have included every landowner. If we constrain Kintyre, by excluding what was later called Knapdale, then Kintyre may have consisted of only 7 ouncelands or 560m. Of this we can identify about 485m (525m – 40m Skipness). If we stretch Kintyre to include the northern section to Tarbert then the whole peninsula was probably 8 ouncelands or 640m and the named landowners plus the Earl of Menteith may have held 525m. As Duncan and Brown point out, Alexander’s letter makes no reference to the Macruaris which suggests they had indeed been expelled from the area, probably after 1221-2.



Bruce’s charters


The Wars of Independence brought great changes in land-ownership in Scotland and a number of Bruce’s charters deal with lands in Kintyre. Firstly there is a charter to James, son of Dunsleph, of 7½ ‘senemargis’ (‘seann’ + ‘marg’ or ‘old mark’) in Kintyre. (This is dated 1306-9 by OPS II, II p 819). I think that an ‘old mark’ was the same as a pennyland and that the total of 7½ is not accidental. (RMS I App 2 p 553 Index B No 15 or Robertson’s Index p 26 No 15 actually refer to them as a 7½d land). 7½d was worth £20 or 30m which was often reckoned as a knight’s fee. The lands are given in detail in RMS I App 1 (105). They comprise:


1¼ ‘senemargis’ of Ardayardill (Ard Carradale)

½ ‘senemargis’ of Ogildaill (Ugadale, of which the other half or 2m belonged to Saddell Abbey).

1 ‘senemargis’ of Ardinlochu (?Kildonald & ?Ballochgair)

1 ‘senemargis’ of Ardincross (Ardnacross)

1½ ‘senemargis’ of Kylcedene (Kilkeddan)

¾ ‘senemargis’ of Curtegredlene & Arngaffs (Gartgreillan & Ari-?)

⅜ ‘senemargis’ of Grenane (Grianan)

1 ‘senemargis’ of Penigninm[ir] (Peninver)

⅛ ‘senemargis’ of Lagan lying next to Penigninu[ir] (Laggan in Glen Lussa)


These farms stretch between Grianan and Peninver on the east coast of Kintyre. The reddendo was a 26-oared galley with men and provisions.


RMS I App 2 p 551 Index A No 607 refers to a charter by Bruce to Nigelli (Neill) M’Partane of the lands of Kildavy. (He is Neill M’parlan in the preamble on p 550). The matching item in Index B No 1 (or Robertson’s Index p 25 No 1) refers to a charter to Dowgall Macfarlane of the lands of Kindavie, Arynschauche etc. These farms are Kildavie in NR 7210 and what was presumably its associated sheiling ground at Arinascavach in NR 7213. As we shall see below Arinsacavach was possibly with Killellan in 1329 but this is not necessarily a major problem. Sheilings could and did change hands and from 1502-6 we find Arinascavach associated with Knockriochbeg. (For a possible connection with a graveslab in Saddell Abbey see Argyll I No 296 (12) p 144 and Steer & Bannerman No 95 pp 155-6).


RMS I App 2 Index A p 554 No 656 refers to a charter to Nigelli Oge (Young Neill) of the lands of Kilmychill. RMS I App 2 Index B p 554 No 27 (or Robertson’s Index p 26 No 27) expands the list of lands to Killmychill, Drondrayllen, Dunnor, Keyllpoll (or Kellypol) and Reythenan. Keyllpoll is now Calliburn (NR 7225), Reythenan is now Ranachan (NR 6924/7024), Dunnor is Drummore (NR 7022) while Kilmichael is at NR 6922. Drondrayllen is reminiscent of Blaeu’s ‘Tremneuling’ which is probably Ballywilline (NR 7122) but with druim (ridge) instead of baile (township) as the first element. Again this is a compact group of farms which, on the basis of evidence from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, was worth about 17m.


RRS V (239) 1323 is a charter to John of Menteith giving him ‘Glenbrecryth’ and ‘Aulesai’ in Kintyre in return for a 26-oared galley with men and provisions. ‘Aulesai’ is perhaps Ailsa Craig while ‘Glenbrecryth’ is Glen Breackerie in South Kintyre. Although Glen Breackerie is clear enough geographically it is difficult to know exactly what farms it comprised in 1323. I am unsure whether to include all the smaller glens which run off Glen Breackerie and whether to exclude Ormsary because that may already have belonged to Saddell. Nevertheless the grant could easily have been for lands with a total assessment of 20-30 merks. This makes it comparable to the charter of 7½d between Carradale and Peninver which was also for a 26-oared galley. It is tempting to assume that Glen Breackerie was part of John Comyn’s 100m holding in Kintyre.


Finally there is a charter to Gilchrist Mac Ymar Mac Ay dated 31 March 1329 and printed in RMS I App 1 (99). The lands are described as:


duas schanmarcatas terre in Kontyr, (Kentyr) videlicet

            denariatam terre de Arydermede (Arydermeile)

            denariatam terre de Ballostalfis

            denariatam terre de Kyllewllane (Kyllewlan) et

            denariatam terre de Seskamousky

(Variant readings from OPS II, II p 819 in brackets).


The Reddendo was the service of two archers in the king’s army.


Unfortunately we can only identify one of these four farms. Kyllewllane is likely to be Killellan in NR 6814/6815. The first element of Arydermede is likely to be airigh (sheiling) and the first element of Ballostalfis is likely to baile (township) but these names are now lost to the map. However we can estimate where they are likely to have been if we look at the later estate of Killellan which is recorded from 1499.


RSS I (368) 1499 gives details of a charter to Colin Makaucheren which included 2m Killeban, 2m Pennygogyn, 2m Gartloskin and 2m Ellarg & Arynaskawsach. Colin was a member of the important MacEachern family who acted as mairs in South Kintyre and this 8m estate can be traced through numerous other documents including the Exchequer Rolls listings. The farms were 2m Killellan, 2m Pennygown (NR 6914), 2m Gartloskan (NR 6913), 1m Elerick (c. NR 7014) and 1m Arinascavach (NR 7213). Since the Mackay family were also important local officers in Kintyre (albeit more often associated with North Kintyre) I think it entirely possible that this distinct 8m estate was exactly the same in 1329 as 1499. In that case Arydermede was probably Elerick & Arinascavach while Seskamousky could match with Gartloskan. Ballostalfis sounds like a Gaelic-Norse compound and would mean ‘township of the ?’. Pennygown means pennyland of the smith and since the two names are similar in construction it is easy to imagine one replacing the other.


One intractable problem remains however and this is one of valuation. The 1329 charter quite clearly says ‘2 old marks’ and then lists 4 pennylands. I have argued throughout that the exchange rate in Kintyre was 1d to 4m and that an ‘old mark’ was the same as a pennyland. This evidence directly contradicts that theory. I cannot explain this away or conjure what the document says is a pennyland into what I think it was – a half-pennyland. (One of the reasons why I think the document is wrong is that if the estate remained unchanged between 1329 & 1499 than 2 ‘old marks’ were indeed worth 8m. However one could argue against this by saying that the name Pennygown implies a pennyland, not a half-pennyland).


The other document which mentions ‘old marks’ is the one dealing with the lands between Carradale and Peninver. Nowhere does this make a direct comparison between ‘old marks’ and pennylands but the valuations do match quite well and we can derive some supporting evidence from the values given for Ugadale which was split with Saddell Abbey. Moreover, if we assume that 1 old mark was worth 2 pennylands (as implied on the Killellan estate) then 7½ ‘old marks’ would mean 15 pennylands. 15d (at 1d to 4 ‘new’ merks) would make 60 ‘new’ merks which is much more than the later valuations of these lands would lead us to believe.


We are left with a dilemma. Either the 1329 charter is an anomaly and the conversion rate throughout Kintyre was 1d to 4m. Or it is correct in which case we might conclude that the exchange rate differed between North and South Kintyre with 1d being 4m in North Kintyre (as in Cowal and Knapdale) and only 2m in South Kintyre (as in Lorn). I am firmly inclined to the former view since that is where most of the evidence leads us.


In 1325 Bruce also confirmed the gift by Patrick MacScilling, and his wife Finlach, of the church of Kilcolmkill to Whithorn Priory (RMS I App 1 No 20, RRS V No 275, RMS II (461) 1451).


Alongside Bruce’s charters it is worth drawing attention to one of David II’s which also deals with Kintyre. RMS I App 2 Index A No 1043 records a charter to Robert Cunynghame of the lands of Terbert. RMS I App 2 p 582 Index B No 7 expands this:


To Robert Cunninghame younger, of the lands of Garvard, the lands called 5 penney land, in vicecomitatu Argadie [Argyll]


I am not sure if Garvard is a mistranscription for Tarbert or was possibly a name for the surrounding area (garbh + Ard) which could certainly be described as rough and high. (There is a Sron Gharbh just east of Tarbert in NR 8768). 5 pennylands would be equivalent to 20m which might refer to the bordland dedicated to maintaining a garrison in Tarbert Castle.


It is worth reviewing just how consistent and long-lasting were the efforts made by the Scottish kings to gain control of Kintyre. One or more campaigns in Argyll in 1221/2 may have coincided with the expulsion of the Macruaris and their relocation to Uist and Garmoran. Before 1262 it seems that the lands of Dougall MacSween had passed to Walter Stewart, Earl of Menteith, who may well have been an agent of royal policy. The Exchequer Rolls record copious evidence of Robert I’s investment in Tarbert castle. As we have seen above, Bruce then gave several charters of lands of Kintyre to his loyal supporters. David II (1329-71) continued this policy with his charter (of Tarbert) to Robert Cunningham. In RMS II (163) of 1430 James I appointed Alexander Montgomery of Ardrossane and Robert Cunynghame of Kylmauris his ‘custodes’ in Kintyre and Knapdale – including the castles of Skipness and Sween. Royal influence also extended to castles at Airds (Carradale), Saddell, Kinloch (Campbeltown) and Dunaverty. The degree of effort in time, money and resources indicates how valuable Kintyre then was. We know Kintyre was important to the Norse since they regarded it as second only to the Isle of Man in value. The Scottish kings must have made a similar assessment. Fortunately we can quantify this value in terms of its known extent. Whether we think in terms of davachs or merklands (but, paradoxically, not ouncelands) Kintyre was rated more highly than any other comparable area on the west coast or in the Hebrides.


It is perhaps worth noting that there is a possible motte by Macharioch (the only one in Kintyre). (See Argyll I No 257).


There is one other comparison which is worth drawing between the picture revealed in the earliest charters for Kintyre and that displayed in the Exchequer Rolls of the early sixteenth century. This can only be tentative since we have scant evidence from the fourteenth century to compare with the pretty comprehensive data of the Exchequer Rolls. However the picture that emerges from the early fourteenth century is of compact little parcels of land, the farms adjacent to each other. The estates as revealed in the Exchequer Rolls are much more widely dispersed. One family might own a group of farms which were quite scattered – and not just because of their sheilings. This is not just the case for one or two families, it seems to be a pattern. For this to happen we must assume a fairly long period of peace. Society under the Lords of the Isles in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries must have been stable and ordered. Neighbours did not have to be fearful of neighbours. Only in such conditions could such estates have developed.



North and South Kintyre


Despite an occasional reference to Mid-Kintyre it is generally the case that Kintyre was divided into two parts – North and South. This division is repeated in the Exchequer Rolls, in the lists of 1596 & 1605, and in the 1678 rental. It was obviously long-standing and deeply engrained. The problem is that there are some ambiguities as to the precise dividing-line between the two. In general terms the division seems to have been at the Laggan or low-lying ground which stretches west from Campbeltown to Machrihanish. In earlier times Loch Sanish (now drained) would have formed a natural barrier. But was the boundary to the north of the Laggan or the south? Much of this low-lying ground was taken up by the Machrihanish estate which does not feature in the Exchequer Roll evidence. In the 1678 rental the farms on this estate appear as part of Kilmichael parish in North Kintyre. However in the Exchequer Roll evidence of the sixteeenth century the farms of Kilmichael, Craigs and Auchaleek consistently appear under South Kintyre.


At this distance I do not think it is ever going to be possible to be sure of what the situation was but we can suggest a likely pattern. Of the farms listed under Kilmichael parish in 1678 several were always in North Kintyre (Ballywilline, Askomill, Baraskomill etc). The southern boundary of Kilmichael parish seems to have been the Machrihanish Water. Moy was in Kilkerran parish while Aros was in Kilmichael so the eastern boundary was presumably between the two (ignoring for the moment the anomaly of Backs being in Skeirchenzie). The reason why the farms of Kilmichael, Craigs and Auchaleek were always listed under South Kintyre may be because they formed part of a 40m holding associated with the stewardship or bailliary of Kintyre and all the other farms on this holding were in South Kintyre. The estate is described in RMS II (1480) of 1481 when James III granted 40m to Tarlach MakAlexander as ‘senescallum’ (steward) of Kintyre. It recurs in ER XII p 363 of 1502-5 by which time it is occupied by Alexander MakAlexander who is described as ‘ballivum’ or baillie. The fact that scribes at the time were used to listing Kilmichael, Craigs and Auchaleek alongside farms in South Kintyre may explain the anomaly of these three appearing in the Exchequer Rolls as if they were geographically in South Kintyre.


RMS II (1480) of 1481 also offers another scrap of evidence in support of Machrihanish Water being the southern boundary of North Kintyre. In the preamble the charter describes the boundaries of Kintyre, ie the area within which Tarlach’s office of steward shall extend. It is ‘a Sannych versus occiden. et super aquam de Sanys ex occidentali parti ejusdem’. This phrase is slightly enigmatic and seems to say ‘from Sannych on the west and above the water of Sanys on the west’. Now the ‘Sannych’ was Allt an t-Sionnaich (Foxburn) in NR 7454 which formed the northern boundary of Kintyre in all the Exchequer Rolls listings. ‘Super aquam de Sanys’ means above (or north of) the water of Sanys which is probably now Machrihanish Water. The definition therefore seems to be ‘between Allt an t-Sionnaich and Machrihanish Water’ which, despite the lack of information about the east of Kintyre, is essentially what was known as North Kintyre. The situation is slightly anomalous in that Tarlach is somehow steward of Kintyre (actually only defined as North Kintyre) on the basis of a holding that was largely in South Kintyre. I am left with the impression that some detail has been omitted from this charter either through ignorance, confusion or mistranscription.


We can compare this definition with one that occurs in many documents which described the toiseachdeorship of Kintyre – long held by the MacNeills of Gigha. This went with the 16m Machrihanish estate and is given in RSS II (3098) of 1539, MacNeill Inventory (8) of 1542, RSS IV (1497) of 1551-2, RMS IV (921) of 1554 etc. In these the definition of Kintyre is from the Mull to Allt an t-Sionnaich – ie it is comprehensive of both North and South Kintyre. In conclusion therefore I think North Kintyre extended as far south as Machrihanish Water in the West. In the East it extended to the northern boundary of Moy and Kinloch (at the head of Campbeltown Loch).




What conclusions can we draw from the land-assessment data? Firstly we have certain summary figures from early times:


In Purves, Revenue of the Scottish Crown, 1681, p 182 there is a Rental of the Isles which must, in its original form, date back to before the final forfeiture of the Lordship in 1493. Kintyre is given as 480m old extent. This would be 6 ouncelands at 1 ounceland to 80m. It is likely that Kintyre here did not include Kilcalmonell parish (92m E & W) which was then regarded as Knapdale. However we would have to deduct a further 68m to bring it down to Purves’s total.


ER XII pp 365-6 (1502-5) gives a summary of the holdings in North Kintyre (ie not including Kilcalmonell):

£100 (150m) of North Kintyre occupied by Angus of the Isles

£40 (60m) occupied by Donald Macranaldbane

26m (Carradale) occupied by Adam Reide

3m occupied by MacMurche poet

(4m) to the maor for his fee

Total c 243m.


In ER XVII p 649, which was compiled c. 1542, there is a summary to the effect that North Kintyre contains 149½m and South Kintyre contains 206m 1s 8d. Again North Kintyre would not include Kilcalmonell parish.


In Smith, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Argyll, 1798, there is a table between pp 304 & 305 which shows the number of merklands in the various parishes of Kintyre. By this time the parishes had ben revamped so his figures are:

Southend – 89, Campbelton – 195, Killean & Kilchenzie – 130, Sadale & Skipness – 94 (Total = 508). I have excluded the figure for Kilcalmonell (115m) because it was then lumped with Kilberry in Knapdale but if we allow 63m for that part of Kilcalmonell parish which was in NW Kintyre then the grand total for Kintyre is c. 571m in 1798).


My own totals are 221¾m for South Kintyre and 398m for North Kintyre making a grand total of 619¾m. After allowing for some attrition over the centuries it looks as if the whole of Kintyre was 8 ouncelands or 640m (240m in S Kintyre, 400m in North Kintyre). I am convinced the exchange rate in Kintyre was 1d to 4m or 1 ounceland to 80 merks. This matches well with the data from Glassary, Knapdale and Western Cowal and suggests that the whole area was brought within the Scottish fiscal system at the same time – quite possibly just after Alexander II’s campaign(s) in the area in 1221-2.


There is no doubt that Kintyre was composed of pennylands. Not only do we have the data from Bruce’s reign quoted above but we also have 7 or 8 place-names which include the element peighinn (penny). These are Corphein, Pennygown, Pendlachna, Pennyseorach, Dippen (twice) Peninver and possibly Coalfin. We have 6 further half-pennyland names: Lephinbeg (twice), Lepeyn Cawferay, Lepeyn Stra, Lephincorrach & Lephinmore. We also have at least three names which include feoirlinn (farthingland): Feorlan, Garfeorling and Feorlinmollach.


What of the pre-Norse situation? We have either 6 or 8 names which begin with the word ceathramh or quarter: Kerremeanach (twice) Kerafuar, Kirnasche, Kirnacreg, Kerref Callyn – plus possibly Kerranbeg & Kerranmore. Seven of these seem to have been worth 1m, the eighth 1½m. This suggests that a quarterland in Kintyre was worth 1 merk or 1 farthing (since 1d = 4m).The evidence for eighthlands is too slight to take into account. We are probably only talking about one place (Ochtoran) which I think was worth a merk but might possibly have been only half a merk.


If quarterlands were worth 1m then we would expect a davach (the name for the whole unit) to be 4m. What evidence do we have for davachs in Kintyre given that, traditionally, they have been thought to be absent from Argyll?


We have only a single piece of evidence for davachs in Kintyre and that is the place-name Dachnaachlysk (davach of the church) which is recorded in 3 different documents in the years 1502-6. From 1541 the first element dach- is replaced by dal- (field) and is now probably Dalmore. From 1502-6 Dachnaachlysk was one of 3 farms making up a 4-merkland unit and it is not until 1596 that we come across individual valuations. Then Dalnahanslek has a valuation of 2m while Killequhattan (Kilchattan) and Cristilloch (Christlach) were worth 1m each. However I think that Dachnaachlysk is the primary name within the group and that the other two places represent subdivisions.


Independently of this I had formed the conclusion that the predominant unit in Kintyre was of  four merklands. There are no less than 32 four-merkland units in North Kintyre accounting for 128m out of 400m. The unit is not so obvious in South Kintyre were there are only 8 such units accounting for 32m out of 240m. (In general terms there seems to have been more subdivision in South Kintyre). It makes sense therefore to regard the davach as the 4 merkland unit with quarterlands being 1 merkland subdivisions.


How do pennylands fit into this scheme? When the Norse arrived they must have decided to value the land at the rate of 20 davachs to the ounceland or 1 davach to 1 pennyland. (It is perfectly possible that davachs were converted to ouncelands first and only became equivalent to pennylands after the adoption of a Hiberno-Norse coinage system c. 995 AD). What is impossible to know is whether or not the 20-davach unit had local importance prior to the arrival of the Norse. Are we seeing here a Dalriadic 20-house unit? (It is perhaps significant that Skeirchenzie, probably possessed by Iona before 1203, would make a 10-davach unit).


Although I know of no other davach-names in Argyll that have a specific land-assessment context the 4 merkland unit is found throughout Kintyre, Western Cowal, Knapdale and Glassary and is similarly regarded as equivalent to 1 pennyland. Accordingly I suspect that the Norse system of ouncelands and pennylands was matched to the Pictish system of davachs in the same way throughout this whole area. Whilst this is a large claim to found on a single davach-name the framework in each of these districts is the same and therefore the whole structure has a certain integrity. The pattern is consistent and the data is mutually reinforcing.


What were ‘senemargis’ or ‘old merks’? There are two possible answers to this. The term ‘old merk’ does imply a Scottish perspective since it was the Scottish realm which introduced merklands to the west. On the one hand we can say that when the Scots first imposed their system after c. 1221-2 the previous system of pennylands was highly visible and that the Scots simply meant that an ‘old merk’ was a Norse silver penny. In favour of this argument would be the fact that both merks and pennies were systems of currency. Alternatively it may be that the pennyland layer was fairly transparent and that the underlying system of davachs was obvious – a system moreover that the Scots would have plenty of experience of in other parts of the realm. In this case the phrase ‘old merk’ might simply be a term employed when referring to davachs. I think it will be difficult to reach a definitive answer on this point.


There are two place-names which probably had to do with ‘old merks’. One is Margmonagach which was worth 4m – not 1m as the name seems to imply. I think the ‘marg’ in Margmonagach must be an ‘old mark’ (or pennyland or davach) which would indeed be worth 4m. Analogous with this is Lesenmarg which I think was ‘half-an-old-mark’ (or ½d or half-a-davach) – worth 2 merks Scots.


What then of the picture across the whole of Kintyre? If we look only at ouncelands and merklands then Kintyre was worth 8 ouncelands or 640 merklands from Tarbert to Sanda. In ounceland terms, 8 ouncelands is a low number when compared with the situation north of Ardnamurchan. 8 ouncelands is the same as Coll, less than one-third the value of Tiree and only about one-seventh of the value of Skye. If the Norse thought Kintyre second only to Man in value how are we to explain this?


The explanation lies in the davachs. Kintyre may only have been 8 ouncelands but it was 160 davachs (140 x 4 = 640). In davach terms this is a substantially greater number than anywhere else on the mainland west coast or throughout the Hebrides. (Even Skye was only about 55-60 davachs). However the question which then emerges is why there was such a radically-different exchange rate between davachs and ouncelands north and south of Ardnamurchan.


Finally it is worth reinforcing that the land-assessment systems of the west coast were remarkably pervasive and long-lived. This was the case even in Kintyre which was more open than most areas of the Highlands to influences from elsewhere. Writing in 1793 Rev G MacLiesh has this to say about merklands:


The origin of this denomination of lands is, by some, referred to a very distant era … It is now of little consequence, being neither uniform nor universal. I know nothing regulated by it, except perhaps, cess, teinds, and some other public burdens. The rent is fixed by a surer rule, the number of bolls sowing, and soums of cattle of all kinds it will maintain.


The irony is that, despite his somewhat dismissive remarks, Rev MacLiesh demonstrates the tenacity and longevity of the merkland system and, by implication, the pennyland and davach systems on which it was based. (The 1678 rental makes clear that some rents in kind, as well as teinds, were reckoned by the merkland and that there was an expectation of ‘ane pressand [present] upon ilk four merkland’ [or pennyland or davach]). I do not believe there was a new extent taken in the thirteenth century. It is much more likely that there was a simple arithmetic exchange rate fixed upon to convert pennylands or davachs into merklands. This was then applied uniformly to Western Cowal, Glassary, Knapdale and Kintyre when they were absorbed into the Scottish fiscal system sometime after about 1221-2. Evidence from elsewhere suggests that rentals often had a going rate per pennyland as late as the eighteenth century – even though that aspect may have died out earlier in Kintyre. Pennylands (and then merklands) underwrote much of the administrative fabric of rural life (both lay and religious) from the eleventh until the eighteenth century. By mapping these to an underlying system of davachs we reach back centuries further. Rev MacLiesh’s comments about ‘bolls sowing’ allows us to make comparisons with Moray and Ross where this was a common method of reckoning.


MacLiesh’s reference to soums also allows us to put King Hakon of Norway’s tax on Kintyre in 1263 into some sort of context. The Old Statistical Accounts for Campbeltown in 1791 and Saddell & Skipness in 1793 give us figures for the number of soums per merkland in these parishes (39½ & 24 respectively). The eastern coast of Kintyre is less favourable to agriculture than either the west or the south so if we pitch on an average of 25 soums per merkland throughout Kintyre we are not being overly optimistic. Since Kintyre was probably 640 merklands that means the whole peninsula could theoretically maintain 16000 cattle. (In practice horses and sheep would also be stocked – so reducing the number of cattle). In 1263 Hakon taxed Kintyre to the tune of 1000 cattle (Anderson, Early Source II p 618). Whilst a heavy burden this was by no mean insupportable.


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2 comments on “Kintyre Sources
  1. Nancy Roberts says:

    Your site is still the best!!!! I have used it before, then needed it again to try to find and understandThe Bruce’s Charters in Kintyre. Thanks so very Much

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