Arisaig Summary



Principal Sources


RMS I App I No 9 (c. 1309)

RMS II (2438) & (2439) 1498

RMS III (1131) 1531-2, (1396) 1534, (2242) 1540

RMS VII (264) 1610, (344) 1610

RSS II (2498) 1538, (3263) 1539-40

NRAS 2950/1/37 (1613)

NRAS 2950/1/38 (1616)

NRAS 2950/1/45 (1626)

NRAS 2950/1/46 (1626)

GD 201/1/362/3 Rental (1699)

GD 201/5/1257/2 Rental (1718)

GD 201/5/1156 (1762)

GD201/5/1200 1796

E 744/1/1 Rental (1748)

AS II(459, 464) 1633

Inverness Retours (24) 1612, (47) 1627


C Fraser-Mackintosh, Excerpta e Sasinarum Registris Vice-Comitatum de Inverness, Vol II, No 172, (1823), No 943, (1819); Vol V No 436 (1850)

Macfarlane’s Geographical Collections II, 167-8, 522


RHP 20921 Rough plan of part of Lochailort, 1919

RHP 44717


Our earliest charter of the area (c. 1309) refers to a ‘dimidiam davatam de Ayrsayk’ (a half davach of Arisaig) and goes on to specify 10 pennylands. Arisaig was once reckoned in terms of davachs and each davach was equivalent to 20d or one ounceland.


In later documents Arisaig is treated in three parts. The largest portion contained 24 or 25 merks against which was matched another of either 6 or 7 merks. A third part, consisting of a narrow sliver stretching from Ardnish in the west along Loch Eilt to Moy in the east, was usually dealt with separately and was initially worth 4 marks. Excluding Ardnish the value in merklands was normally between 30 and 32m. Similarly our various rentals give us totals of between 28½d and 32d. One merkland was evidently equivalent to one pennyland. The three Arisaig sections together come to a nominal total of between 34 and 36d. (RMS VII (344) and AS II No 464 give 37m while the former also mentions New Extent). I find 39¼d which suggests Arisaig was once two ouncelands or davachs. However, one or two of the names in my list which appear as separate units in 1613, 1616 and 1626 may actually refer to the same piece of land. For example Stronahunshin of 1613 may include Arieane of 1626. Curiously, the extent, (ie Old or New), is seldom mentioned; when it is, it is usually given as ‘Old’. I think RMS VII (344) is in error about New Extent.


Arisaig stretched down the south side of Loch Ailort to the burn at Alisary which was the march with Moidart. Then it stretched east along the watershed south of Loch Eilt to Essan which was the eastern march. The most valuable single unit was Borrodale which is Norse for borg-dalr or fort-dale and was presumably the local power-base for the Norse colony in the area.


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