Monday, 18 February 2013


The island of Luing, just six miles long and one and a half wide and lying at the mouth of Loch Melfort, is promoted as Argyll's best kept secret. The island, which is in the group of islands known as the Slate Islands, has a history dating back to at least the Bronze Age, with two hill forts one of which has yielded artefacts from that era. There are also remains of an early lake dwelling on the island. The ruined chapel of Kilchattan, dating from the 16th century, is surrounded by a graveyard with an interesting mix of graves and gravestones made of slate, the rock which makes up the bulk of the island's geology. The most notable individual buried in the graveyard is Alexander Campbell, a Covenanter - member of a Scottish Presbyterian movement - who performed an extraordinary DIY funeral service for himself, having not only dug his own grave, but also carved his own memorial stones, four of them in all. As well as a headstone and a stone over the grave, giving strict orders that no-one else be buried there after him, there are two stones on the outside of the graveyard, one of which promotes the Covenant to anyone passing by, the other threatening divine retribution to anyone who tampers with the stones.

The island can be reached by ferry from the southern tip of Seil. The largest of the island's villages, which grew up around slate quarrying, is Cullipool, which also has the island's only shop. The mainstay of the economy now is agriculture, including a particularly hardy breed of cattle named after the island, where the breed was developed. The hardiness of the Luing breed has proved to be a selling point for New Zealand and Canada, who are among the importers of the breed. Luing falls within the Firth of Lorn Marine Special Area of Conservation, and there is a wide variety of wildlife, from otters, hares, seals and porpoises, to buzzards, peregrines, hen harriers and eagles.

of the area.

© 2007 Eileen Henderson, via Wikimedia Commons

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