Glenshiel & Kintail – Summary Text

Glenshiel & Kintail


Principal Sources


Glenshiel OSA Vol 7 No 9

Kintail OSA Vol 6 No 29


RMS II (3313) 1508-9

RMS III (2903) 1543

RMS IV (2063) 1572

RRS VI No 485 1342 or APS XII Supplement pp 6-7


ER XX p 418 1571


GD90/1/272 1680

GD128/23/1/3 1594

GD305/1/20/6 1561, GD305/1/51/5 1708, GD305/1/166/7 1508


RS36/2/198v 1607


Gordon (15)

RHP 3565 1812


Retours (Ross) (6) 1574, (79) 1633


Highland Papers II p 326 ff Rental of Seaforth Estates c. 1726


Macfarlane’s Geographical Collections II, pp 541-4



In the mid eighteenth century Kintail was divided into two parishes: Kintail (7 davachs) and Glenshiel (3 davachs). For the purposes of this study I am going to treat them as the single earlier unit of Kintail. We are fortunate in that we have a nice tidy figure, given in 1342, for the total number of davachs of Kintail. RRS VI No 485 (or APS XII Supplement pp 6-7) is a 1343 inspection of a 1342 charter which refers to 10 davachs of Kintail in North Argyll.


RMS II (3313) 1508-9 lists these 10 davachs or 40m in Kintail in geographical order so the first davach-name must be on the Northern shore of the Glenelg peninsula near the western border with Glenelg proper. 10 davachs = 40m so 1 davach = 4m which is an Old Extent valuation common to the Northern Hebrides (Lewis, Harris & Skye) and the mainland of Glenelg. Unfortunately we have no detailed breakdown below davach level. We know the names of many of the constituent farms (as indicated in RMS III (2903) 1543 & RMS IV (2063) 1572) but we do not have individual valuations. There is further evidence in the maps of Pont, Gordon and Blaeu.


Highland Papers II pp 326-330 c. 1726 gives us an even more detailed breakdown of the farms as they appear in the rental books but contains virtually no valuations. It is very tempting to use rents and casualties as a guide to assessments but I have largely resisted this. However we have two entries for Innershall (Invershiel) where the arithmetic tells us it must have been a 5 pennyland or quarter-davach unit. Using this as our base-line we can surmise the pennyland and davach valuations of a number of other farms. In the table I have entered these in brackets and plain text since they are derived values and not included in any totals.


The Old Statistical Account for Kintail in 1793 (after Glenshiel had become a separate parish) states that ‘the land is divided into oxen-gates, pennies and farthings. In the first, there is room for 6 bolls sowing.’ It further states that there are 162 pennylands in the parish or 54 oxengates and that every pennyland will bear a souming of 32 cattle. These figures allow us to make some observations on the different systems of land-assessment. In this part of the west coast a davach was the same as an ounceland which in turn comprised 20 pennylands. 162 pennylands is just over 8 ouncelands (or davachs) for Kintail – which is slightly more than the 7 davachs suggested by my table. At 8 oxgates to the davach 54 oxgates equals 6¾ davachs which is just shy of the 7 davachs expected. Since an oxgate was regarded as ground sufficient for sowing 6 bolls of grain then a davach would be 48 bolls sowing.


(Kintail had 10 davachs in the fourteeenth century and 162 pennylands in the eighteenth century. Davachs and ouncelands were probably equivalent – unlike the far north where there were 3 davachs of 6d to the ounceland. It is possible that Kintail had 10 davachs or ouncelands at 18d each but I think this is less likely than 10 ouncelands at 20d).


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