Ardnamurchan Summary



Principal Sources


RMS I App II Index A No 56

RMS I App II, Index B, No 51

RMS II (2895) 1505

RMS IV (527) 1550

RMS VII (272) 1610, (2057) 1619 on original of 1615

RSS IV (908) 1550

AS I (344) 1651

AS II (188) 1625, (202), 1626, (720-1) 1643, (1042) 1662

ER XIII p218 1509

ER XVII pp622-4, 643-5 1541, Land-valuation and rental, see also p 650

C Fraser-Mackintosh, The Last Macdonalds of Isla, Glasgow, 1895.

Mackintosh Muniments No 97, 1568

NAS CS 46/1913/May No 6 pp 346-8, Charter by Earl of Argyll to Campbell of Lochnell of lands of Ardnamurchan, 1696.

Macfarlane’s Geographical Collections Vol II pp 167, 522

Sir William Purves, Revenue of the Scottish Crown, London, 1897

Sir Alexander Murray, The True Interest of Great Britain, London, 1740

Argyll Valuation Roll, 1751

GD 112/2/93/4, 1765

R Black, MacMhaighstir Alasdair – The Ardnamurchan Years, Society of West Highland & Island Historical Research, 1986


Alexander Bruce, Plan of Loch Sunart, 1733, in Murray, The True Interest of Great Britain. Also in RHP 41892 and BL Additional MSS 33632B. RHP 41892 is more finished and has some very minor changes eg to spellings.

RHP 3305 Plan of Ardnamurchan

RHP 3345 Particulars of Estate of Mingary for sale, 1885



Ardnamurchan has 80 merklands or 8 ouncelands with a conversion rate of 1 ounceland : 10 merks or 1d : ½m. In the ‘Rental of the Isles’ given by Sir William Purves (Revenue of the Scottish Crown p 182) ‘The Morargne’ (which I think is Ardnamurchan not Morvern) is given as 80m. (I think this rental dates to the end of the fifteenth century). In the 1541 Exchequer Rolls, which is a land valuation as well as a rental, the assessment shows 80m. It is reckoned as 80m in 1509 (ER XIII p 218), 1528-9 (ER XV p 676), 1550 (RSS IV 908; C Fraser-Mackintosh, The Last Macdonalds of Isla, p 18) and in the 1590s by Pont in his descriptions printed in Macfarlane’s Geographical Collections Vol II. The total number of pennylands is given as 154 in NAS CS 46/1913/May No 6 pp 346-8 of 1696, 152 in The True Interest of Great Britain (1723) and the Argyll Valuation Roll (1751), and 150d in GD 112/2/93/4 of 1765. (The total of 8 ouncelands is theoretically 160d. In 1798 Smith gives 220d for Ardnamurchan which will be 160d Ardnamurchan proper and 60d Sunart).


The only problem, which also occurs with Sunart, is with the precise correlation between individual merkland and pennyland valuations. They do not always match well. The merkland valuation of 1541 is suspiciously even and and regular, as it is in Sunart. Of the 38 separate units named in Ardnamurchan in 1541, 21 are quarterlands. This was the period during which the Argyll family was doing its best to acquire Ardnamurchan after the eclipse of the MacIains. Our earliest merkland assessments for this area have the smack of tidy arithmetic rather than a genuine feel for values on the ground. The pennyland data looks more convincing even if it is only preserved in late documents.


The border between Ardnamurchan and Sunart has been fluid over the last seven centuries. I have dealt with this in the table of assessment data.


Within Ardnamurchan there seem to have been four principal religious sites: Kilchoan, dedicated to St Comgan, where is found the parish church and two mediaeval grave-slabs; Cill Mhairi where is found a cross fragment and which was the church noted by Timothy Pont in the 1590s; Camus nan Geall where there is burial ground and a standing stone decorated with an Early Christian cross; and a site at Ardslignish where an ‘Old Burrying Ground’ was marked by Bald on his estate map in 1806. This last was associated with St Ciaran. In addition to these the 1541 rental gives ecclesiastical properties at Ormsaigbeg, Branalt, Glenborrodale and Grigadale. All of these may be former ritual and interment sites giving a potential total of 8 among 8 ouncelands.


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