Subj: scarba.html
Date: 10/27/99 4:19:17 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: (Bob Brown)


I placed the following query on the usenet "alt.scottish clans" and received this great reply, thought you all might like to read it, afterwards let me know how you'd feel camping out alone on the island, especially around midnight!
Sure nice of David to answer!...... wrote in message ...

According to a map in, "Warriors & Priests" the island of
SCARBA is off the north end of Jura (SSE of Mull) and there's
a Kilmory labelled on it but they say it's probably not big
enough to appear on general atlases. There are several other
places with the same name, my question "why so many Kilmory's"?
Can anyone check old maps or help me with general info about the
island of Scarba and it's Kilmory, or knowledge of the family of
MacLaine's who lived there?

Scarba's an island of about 3640 acres which has been rather unkindlydescribed as a single mountain top which rises straight out of the sea to aheight of 1473 feet. It's separated from Jura (which lies to the south) by thenotorious Corryvreckan, a vicious tidal race where, in a strong westerly wind,a spectacular whirlpool can form. To the north there's the island of Lunga butagain you've got to pass over a dangerous tidal race to get there, this timethe Grey Dogs.
Scarba is currently owned by the family of Lord Duncan Sandys, one timeBritish Minister of State. At the end of the 18th century 50 people (14families) lived on the island, but by the end of the 19th century there wereonly 9 residents. In 1961 the population was 5, but they seem to have left soonafter then, since when the island has had no permanent human residents. It ishowever still farmed and sheep and cattle graze there, mixing with the nativered deer, wild goats and otters. There are also some ghosts - a group of evilsailors apparently walk the island's cliffs and there's a phantom Grey Dogwhich was drowned in the tidal race that now bears its name.
There used to be a village of sorts in the northern part of the island, butfew if any traces of that remain. On the northeast side of the island, wherethe land is better and there is some scattered oak and scrub woodland, isKilmory Lodge, which is apparently still occupied occasionally by members ofthe owning family. There's also a cottage on the south east coast which is usedevery year by school children on an "Outward Bound" course - it seems they haveto live off the land when on the island!
I can't find any reference to a family of MacLaines having lived on theisland, although there could of course well have been people of that name thereat one time. Certainly there is evidence of human habitation for many hundredsof years, with remains of Iron Age dwellings having been found. There's also anancient ruined chapel, Cille Mhoire an Caibel (Mary's Church of the FamilyGraveyard) and it was certainly there as long ago as the 14th century andprobably quite a bit earlier. No burials have taken place in the graveyardsince the mid 19th century.
There's no ferry to the island, but one can sometimes make arangements withlocal boatmen to get over there.
I hope this is of interest to you. I got most of the information from HamishHaswell-Smith's excellent book "The Scottish Islands".
David Thorpe

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