Little Cumbrae  Buteshire


In 1882-4, Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland described Little Cumbrae like this:

Cumbrae, Little, an island of Buteshire,* 1½ mile SSW of Millport, and about the same distance E of the southern extremity of Bute and W of the Ayrshire coast. Triangular in shape, with base to SW and apex to NNE, it has an utmost length and breadth of 1¾ mile and 7¾ furlongs, whilst its area is estimated at 700 acres. ...

The surface rises, in a series of terraces, to 409 feet above sea-level toward the middle of the island, and, with exception of a few patches of potatoes and ordinary garden produce, is all wild moorland, burrowed by rabbits, and grazed by scattered sheep. The geological formation is Secondary trap, resting on a substratum of Old Red sandstone. A circular lighthouse, 30 feet high, the earliest but one in Scotland, was built on the highest point about 1750, and commands a magnificent panoramic view; but has been superseded by another lighthouse on the western coast, which was built in 1826, raises its lantern 106 feet above high water, and shows a fixed light, visible at a distance of 15 miles. A strong old tower, on an islet off the E coast, believed to have been erected as a watch-post against the Scandinavian rovers, was surrounded by a rampart and a fosse, and accessible only by a drawbridge. It belonged to the Eglinton family, who still are proprietors of the island; gave refuge, in times of trouble, to that family's friends; was surprised and burned by the troops of Oliver Cromwell; and now is roofless and dilapidated. On the NE slope of the hill are the tomb and ruined chapel of St Vey. Valuation (1882) £308. Pop. (1831) 17, (1861) 20, (1871) 11, (1881) 23.

* Little Cumbrae is assigned in the census to West Kilbride, but to Ardrossan in the Ordnance maps and valuation rolls.

Little Cumbrae through time

Little Cumbrae is now part of North Ayrshire district. Click here for graphs and data of how North Ayrshire has changed over two centuries. For statistics about Little Cumbrae itself, go to Units and Statistics.

How to reference this page:

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Little Cumbrae, in North Ayrshire and Buteshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.


Date accessed: 21st June 2024

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