The Island of Arran is the largest of the three main islands that make up Bute or Buteshire.
Arran or the Isle of Arran (Scots Gaelic: Eilean Arainn) is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. With an area of 432 square kilometres (167 sq mi) it is the seventh largest Scottish island. Since 1996 it has been in the unitary council area of North Ayrshire. In the 2001 census (latest available in 2012), it had a resident population of 5,058. Although it is culturally and physically similar to the Hebrides, it is separated from them by the Kintyre peninsula. Arran is mountainous and has been described as a "geologist's paradise".
Arran has been continuously inhabited since the early Neolithic period, and numerous prehistoric remains have been found. From the 6th century onwards, Goidelic-speaking peoples from Ireland colonised the island and it became a centre of religious activity. During the troubled Viking Age, Arran became the property of the Norwegian crown before becoming formally absorbed by the kingdom of Scotland in the 13th century. The 19th century "clearances" led to significant depopulation and the end of the Gaelic language and way of life.
The economy and population have recovered in recent years, the main industry now being tourism. There is diversity of wildlife, including three species of tree endemic to the area.
Arran is sometimes referred to as "Scotland in miniature", as it is divided into "Highland" and "Lowland" areas by the Highland Boundary Fault which runs northeast to southwest across Scotland.
Parishes, Villages and Hamlets
Villages and Hamlets
Arran's villages are mainly situated around the shoreline. Brodick is the site of the terminal for the ferry from Ardrossan on the mainland, several hotels, and the majority of shops. Brodick Castle is a seat of the Dukes of Hamilton. But Lamlash is the largest village on the island and in 2001 had a population of 1,010 compared to 621 for Brodick. [Latest census figures available in 2012.] Other villages include Lochranza and Catacol in the north, Corrie in the north east, Lagg, Blackwaterfoot and Shiskine in the south west, Kildonan in the south and Whiting Bay in the south east. Population is sparse on the west side of the island. Other hamlets are Sannox, Cladach, Machrie, Pirnmill, Sliddery and Whitefarland.
Arran has three smaller satellite islands: Holy Isle lies to the east opposite Lamlash, Pladda is located off Arran's south coast and tiny Hamilton Isle lies just off Clauchlands Point 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) north of Holy Isle. Eilean na h-Àirde Bàine off the south west of Arran at Corriecravie is a small rocky island connected to Arran at low tide.
The medieval era (1000-1500AD)
In the 11th century Arran became part of the Sodor (Old Norse: 'Suðr-eyjar'), or South Isles of the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles, but on the death of Godred Crovan in 1095 all the isles came under the direct rule of Magnus III of Norway. Lagman (1103–1104) restored local rule which was made over to Somerled, a military and political leader of the Scottish Isles in the 12th century. After the death of Somerled, Arran and Bute were ruled by his son Angus.
In 1237, the Scottish isles broke away completely from the Isle of Man and became an independent kingdom, before being ceded to the Scottish crown in 1266 by the Treaty of Perth. A substantial Viking grave has been discovered near King's Cross south of Lamlash, containing whalebone, iron rivets and nails, fragments of bronze and a 9th century bronze coin, and another grave of similar date nearby yielded a sword and shield. Arran was also part of the medieval Bishopric of Sodor and Man.
On the opposite side of the island near Blackwaterfoot is the King's Cave where Robert the Bruce is said to have taken shelter in 1306. Bruce returned to the island in 1326, having earlier granted lands to Fergus MacLouis for assistance rendered during his time of concealment there. Brodick Castle played a prominent part in the island's medieval history. Probably dating from the 13th century, it was captured by English forces during the first Wars of Independence (1296–1328) before being taken back by Scottish troops in 1307. It was badly damaged by action from English ships in 1406 and sustained an attack by John of Islay, the Lord of the Isles in 1455. Originally a seat of the Clan Stewart of Menteith it passed to the Boyd family in the 15th century. For a short time during the reign of King James V in the 16th century the Isle of Arran was under the regency of Robert Maxwell, 5th Lord Maxwell.
Modern era (from 1500)
At the commencement of the Early modern period James, 2nd Lord Hamilton became a privy counsellor to his first cousin, James IV of Scotland and helped to arrange his marriage to Princess Margaret Tudor of England. As a reward he was created Earl of Arran in 1503.
The local economy for much of the period 1500-1900 was based on the run rig system, the basic crops being oats, barley and potatoes. The population slowly grew to about 6,500.
In the early 19th century Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton (1767–1852) embarked on a programme of clearances that had a devastating effect on the island's population. These "improvements" typically led to land that had been rented out to as many as 27 families being converted into a single farm. In some cases, land was promised in Canada for each adult emigrant male. In April 1829, for example, 86 islanders boarded the brig Caledonia for the two-month journey, half their fares being paid for by the Duke. However, on arrival in Quebec only 100 acres was immediately made available to the heads of extended families. The lands granted were in the Québec county of Mégantic, south of Québec City. A memorial to this has been constructed on the shore at Lamlash, paid for by a Canadian descendant of the emigrants. Online articles in Electric Scotland and the Waymarking.com series on Ghost Towns expand these details.
The Wikipedia article also has sections on the local Gaelic and on the modern Economy.