Sunart Summary



Principal Sources


RMS I (520) 1346 x 1372/3, Clan Donald I pp 502-3, cf Munro, ALI pp10-11

RMS III (3085) 1545

RMS IV (1272) 1558

RMS VII (272) 1610

ER XII p709 1506

ER XIII p218 1509

ER XVII pp624-5, 648-50, 1541

AS I (344) 1651

AS II (902) 1655, (1301) 1666

E747/1/1 & 747/1/2, Rental 1748

Argyll Valuation Roll 1751

Book of Islay p 28 1499

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

Macfarlane’s Geographical Collections II pp 167, 521

Murray, The True Interest of Great Britain, Plate VI, 1723

GD 112/2/93/4, 1765

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

Alexander Bruce, Map of Ardnamurchan and Sunart, in Murray (Plate IX) or RHP 41892; also in British Library Additional MSS 33632B

RHP 3305 Plan of Ardnamurchan

RHP 11627 Surveyed by Wm Cuming 1804

RHP 44852 Map of boundaries round Loch Doilet, Polloch & Loch Shiel



Sunart consisted of 30 merklands or 3 ouncelands with a conversion ratio of 1 ounceland : 10 merklands or 1d : ½m. We have a number of documents which confirm this. In the ‘Rental of the Isles’ given by Sir William Purves (Revenue of the Scottish Crown p 182) ‘Swonartis’ is given as £20. (The rental must have been drawn up at the end of the fifteenth century). The total is given as 30m 4d in ER XIII p 218 of 1509, £20 (30m) in ER XV p 676 of 1528-9, 29¾m in the 1541 rental (ER XVII pp 624-5) and in AS I (344) of 1651. It is stated as 30m in RMS III (3085) of 1545 and also by Pont in Macfarlane’s Geographical Collection II in the 1590s. It is given as 3 ouncelands in a grant by John of Islay to Reginald his son (1346 x 1372/3) and as 60d by David Bruce in his rental of 1748 (E747/1/1). In 1723 The True Interest of Great Britain gives 59 or 60d whilst the Argyll Valuation Roll of 1751 gives 58½d and GD 112/2/93/4 of 1765 gives 59½d. The main issue is not with the overall reckoning but with matching the individual pennyland valuations to their merkland equivalents. Exactly the same problem occurs in Ardnamurchan. It is also striking how, of the 13 separate units named in Sunart in 1541, 10 are quarterlands.


In the earliest grant of Sunart (RMS I 520) the text reads: ‘de tribus unciatis terre de Swynwort et de Lettirlochetle’ (3 ouncelands of Sunart and Lettirlochetle). Lettirlochetle means ‘the slopes of Loch Etle’ but the name is obviously a corruption. In later times Sunart was held to stretch all the way up the south bank of Loch Shiel and it seems likely that this was also the case in the fourteenth century. Alexander Bruce shows the boundary in BL ADD MSS 33632B and it is also shown in RHP 747/1 of the Ardgour estate in 1858. However these properties did not belong to Sunart throughout the intervening period. From c.1541-c.1696 the farms of Lettir Loch Sheil were reckoned as part of Ardnamurchan. In 1723 they were with Sunart whilst the lands of Tarbert, Camastorsa and Camasinas, (all previously in Sunart), had gone to Ardnamurchan. In 1765 Letter Loch Shiel was back with Ardnamurchan while Tarbert, Camastorsa and Camasinas were once more in Sunart.

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