A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Rosneath, a village and a parish of W Dumbartonshire. The village lies near the western shore of the Gare Loch, where a small triangular promontory projects to within 3 furlongs of the opposite point of Row, 5 5/8 miles S by E of Garelochhead, 2 5/8 W by N of Helensburgh, and 5 NNW of Greenock. A little place, serving rather as a centre of communication to the sprinkling of residences over miles in the neighbourhood, than as a seat of trade or of any considerable population, it adjoins a convenient quay, where steamers call many times a day; and it has an inn and a post office under Helensburgh, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments.

The parish, containing also the police burgh of Cove and Kilcreggan and the hamlet of Coulport, forms a peninsula, bounded N by Row, E by the Gare Loch, S by the Firth of Clyde, and W and NW by Loch Long. Its utmost length, from N to S, is 7 miles; its breadth varies between 11/8 and 3 ¼ miles; and its area is 13 4/5 square miles or 8829 ¼ acres, of which 321 are foreshore, and 37 ½ water. The main part of its surface is a continuous ridge, which, rising immediately from the shores of the Gare Loch and Loch Long, and extending from the isthmus to within 1 mile of the Firth of Clyde, attains 717 feet at Tamnahara or Cnoc na h-Airidhe, 645 to the E of Peaton, 651 at Clach Mackenny, and 414 at the Gallowhill. The greater part of the ridge is a tableland, waste or pastoral, with swells commanding gorgeous views of the hill-flanks of the Clyde, together with the northern screen of the Gare Loch and the Duke of Argyll's Bowling Green. The southern extremity of the parish is on the whole low, but beautifully variegated, comprising a dingle from side to side, some fine swells and level fields, and the richly wooded grounds of Rosneath Castle, and terminating in a beautiful small point which projects south-eastward into the Firth of Clyde. The coast is partly sandy, partly rocky. The skirts of the slopes along the Gare Loch, and the parts which look southward down the Clyde, are so studded with villas and cottages ornæes, as to wear a brilliant and embellished aspect. Numerous brooks run down the sides of the ridge, swollen in rainy weather into impetuous torrents, and showing in the lower parts of their course many fine cascades. Campsail or Rosneath Bay in the lower part of the Gare Loch has very beautiful shores, and affords one of the best-sheltered anchorages on the W coast of Scotland. Clay, passing sometimes into chlorite slate or mica slate, is the prevailing rock; but Old Red Sandstone or its conglomerate occurs in the SE. The soil had long a factitious fame for fatality to rats. Nearly 2500 acres are arable ground or artificial pasture; some 1600 acres are under natural or planted wood; and most of the rest is uncultivated moorland. An ancient castle stood near the shore of Campsail Bay, and seems to have served for centuries merely as a place of strength, but was fitted up about the year 1630 by the Marquis of Argyll as a subsidiary residence to the castle of Inveraray. It underwent great changes, and was eventually destroyed by fire in 1802. A new mansion, on a. spot at a little distance from the old site, was erected in 1803-5 according to a splendid design by J. Bononi of London. This is the present ducal palace of Rosneath, and forms along with its park a conspicuous feature of the parish, or rather of the general landscape in which the southern part of the parish lies. The edifice, which has never been finished, is in the modern Italian style, with combinations of Greek. One principal front looks to the N, and is adorned with a magnificent portico, which resembles in its style the Roman Ionic, and projects so far as to admit of a carriage-way within it. Another principal front looks to the S, but is less marked in feature. A circular tower rises in the centre of the edifice, and is crowned by a balustrade, which commands a brilliant panoramic view. Blind Harry and tradition associate the name of the patriot Wallace with Rosneath, but in tales too legendary to admit of discrimination between fact and fiction. A precipitous rock to the N of Rosneath Castle bears the name of Wallace's Leap. Many of the persecuted Covenanters, in the days of the Stuarts, found shelter in the parish under the protection of the friendly Argyll. Respecting even the noted Balfour of Burley, the late Mr Story writes in the New Statistical Account that ` there are strong presumptions that he found an asylum in the same peninsula, and that, having assumed the name of Salter, his descendants continued here for several generations.' Among the ministers of Rosneath have been the mathematician, Prof. Matthew Stewart (1717-84), the father of Dugald Stewart; Robert Story (1790-1859); and his son, Robert Herbert Story, D.D. (b. 1835), a leader of the Moderate party. John Anderson, F.R.S. (1726-96), the founder of Anderson's College, Glasgow, was the son of another minister. It may also be noted that the ` picturesque island of Rosneath' is the scene of the closing chapters of the Heart of Midlothian. Much has been written as to the etymology of the name Rosneath, or Rosnevyth according to the old orthography. The first part is clearly the Celtic ros, `a promontory;' and, as to the second, Dr Skene opines that it probably preserves the name of Nevydd, an early bishop in the North, who was slain by the Saxons and Picts. The ancient parish comprehended, besides the peninsula, all the territory which now constitutes Row, the latter having been disjoined in 1635. In the 12th century its church, St Modan's, was a free parsonage, under the patronage of the Earl of Lennox; but, in 1225, it was given, with its pertinents, in perpetual alms to the monks of Paisley; and it continued to be maintained by them as a curacy till the Reformation. The peninsula and the adjacent but disjoined district of the ancient parish, together with a portion of land beyond, formed the country of Nevydd, which was granted at a very early date to the noble family of Lennox, and continued in their possession till the latter part of the 15th century. Part of Nevydd, including most of the peninsula, was, in 1489, bestowed as a royal gift upon Colin, the first Earl of Argyll, and introduced his powerful family by territorial connection to an influence on the western Lowlands. The Duke of Argyll is the chief of 3 heritors. Giving off all the quoad sacra parish of Craigrownie and a portion of that of Garelochhead, Rosneath is in the presbytery of Dumbarton and the synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the living, including the value of manse and glebe, is worth about £330. The parish church, built in 1853, is a good Gothic edifice, with nave, chancel, porch, and bell-cote. There is also a Free church of Rosneath; and two public schools, Kilcreggan and Rosneath, with respective accommodation for 176 and 153 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 109 and 90, and grants of £.125, 17s. 6d. and £85, 1s. Valuation (1860) £12, 221, (1885) £22,044, 17s. 4d. Pop. (1801) 632, (1831) 825, (1861) 1626, (1871) 1780, (1881) 1994, of whom 775 were in the ecclesiastical parish.—Ord. Sur., shs. 30, 29, 37, 38, 1866-76.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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