Inchmarnock

Infobox Scottish island |
latitude=55.79
longitude=-05.16
GridReference=NS020598
celtic name=Innis Mhearnaig
norse name=
meaning of name=Island of St Marnock
area=266 ha
area rank=94
highest elevation=60 m
Population=0
population rank=
main settlement=
island group=Islands of the Clyde
local authority=Argyll and Bute
references= [2001 UK Census per List of islands of Scotland] [ [http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/ Ordnance Survey] ] Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004) "The Scottish Islands". Edinburgh. Canongate.]

Inchmarnock (Scottish Gaelic: "Innis Mheàrnaig") is an island at the northern end of the Sound of Bute on the west coast of Scotland.

The island belongs to the traditional county of Bute and the modern unitary authority of Argyll and Bute. It is not to be confused with Inchmarnock in Aberdeenshire.Wilson, Rev. John "The Gazetteer of Scotland" (Edinburgh, 1882) Published by W. & A.K. Johnstone]

Geography

Around 3.5 km long and rising to a height of 60 metres, Inchmarnock lies to the west of Bute. The island consists mainly of a single ridge running from north to the south. It is partially wooded and has sea caves at the north and the south and two tiny lochans inland. The island is divided into three farms, Southpark, Midpark and Northpark although only the latter is currently inhabited. A short reef of drying rocks, Tràigh na h-Uil, skirts the island's west coast.

The island lends its name to the Inchmarnock Water, the body of water that lies between the island's western shore and the Kintyre peninsula. Inchmarnock Water connects the Sound of Bute and the Kilbrannan Sound in the south to Loch Fyne and the Kyles of Bute in the north.

History

The island's name is an anglicisation of the Gaelic "Innis Mheàrnaig" meaning "Island of Saint Marnock". Marnock, (Old Irish "M'Ernóc", 'My [ie. 'Saint'] Little Ernán) was a holy man who lived on the island for a time in the 7th century and established a monastery here. He has also lent his name to a number of other locations:
*Kilmarnock, a town on the Scottish mainland
*Portmarnock, a town on the eastern coast of Ireland
*Dalmarnock, an area in the east end of Glasgow

The remains of Saint Marnock's chapel can still be seen near Midpark.

At the northern end of the island a Bronze Age cist contains the remains of a female skeleton, the "Queen of the Inch". The remains were removed for carbon dating and are now displayed behind a pane of glass in their original position.

Local legend has it that in the 19th century drunks from Rothesay were left on Inchmarnock to dry out by means of "isolation and deprivation".

During World War II the islanders were evacuated and the island was used for commando training.

Today, Inchmarnock is privately owned and run as an organic farm. The owner, Sir Robert Haldane Smith, has introduced a population of organic Highland Cattle, employed Headland Archaeology (UK) Ltd to survey the island and has had a new ferry, MV "Marnock", built locally (at Ardmaleish on Bute) to provide a service to the island.

Headland Archaeology conducted several seasons of excavation at the site of St. Marnock's monastery in recent years, discovering one of the most important assemblages of early Christian material in Scotland, notably slates on which the pupils at the monastic scholl had learned to write Latin and ogham letters. The excavation report was published in autumn 2008.

References


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