GLENORCHY & INISHAIL TIMELINE
||||||| 4,000 B.C.
First human habitation around Loch Awe.
||||||| 2500-800 B.C.
During the Bronze Age there was a hill fort or dun at Barachastlain – the remains of a circular stone building 15 metres in diameter suggests a pre-Christian settlement where the ruins of the old village now stand.
||||||| c500 BC – c.1500 AD.
There is evidence suggesting the existence of about twenty crannogs in Loch Awe.
||||||| 6th century
Christian missionaries arrived from Ireland and built places of worship on sites originally chosen by Neolithic people and used by the local population.
||||||| Late 7th century
St Conan arrived in the area (died 684). Legend has it that he blessed a well that he found near the River Orchy and it became a place of worship. For many centuries the waters were believed to have healing properties and attracted many pilgrims.
John of Glenorchy, a quo the MacGregors, married an English lady in the train of Queen Margaret and had two sons. As a reward for saving the king’s life during a boar hunt the eldest son was made Baron of Glen Strae and Kilchurn. The second son, Gregor, was a scholar and traveller and became Abbot of Dunkeld. He founded the family of MacNab (son of abbot).
||||||| 13th – 14th centuries
Glen Orchy was held by the Fletchers – traditionally, arrow-makers to the MacGregors. (Later, in the 16th century, they built their stronghold at Achallader on the shores of Loch Tulla.)
The Battle of the Pass of Brander – Robert the Bruce defeated the MacDougalls of Argyll, kinsmen of John Comyn.
The MacDougall land at the head of Loch Awe was granted to Colin, eldest son and heir of Sir Neil Campbell, Bruce’s great supporter. Taking advantage of the exile of the chief of the MacGregors, Sir Neil married his second son, John, to MacGregor’s daughter, Mariota, thereby securing the lands of Glen Strae for the Campbells.
John Campbell received a formal charter to his wife’s land from King David II. The Campbells were now free to occupy the ancient stronghold of the MacGregors, Kilchurn Castle.
The Campbells occupied the lands surrounding the eastern end of Loch Awe and the valley of the River Lochy as well as large areas of Argyll in Lorne and south towards Campbeltown.
Written evidence of a church only dates from this time but there were probably earlier buildings. The church at Dalmally, known as Clachan Dysart (saint’s retreat, possibly Saint Conan’s) stands on an islet between two branches of the River Orchy. Chiefs and warriors of the Clan Gregor were buried in the church and in the churchyard over the following century and a half.
The land surrounding Loch Tulla, including Achallader, formed part of a grant of land made to Sir Colin Campbell by his father, Sir Duncan. From then onwards, although the Fletchers still occupied the land by the loch, they were resentful tenants of the Campbells. At this time the MacGregors still held the land in Glen Strae. Their castle and attendant township was in Stronmilchan.
The superiority of Glen Orchy was passed to Colin Campbell by his father, Sir Duncan Campbell, later Lord Campbell. Glen Strae remained in the superiority of Lord Campbell, himself, and the MacGregors were retained as his tenants. While Sir Colin was away on crusade his wife, Mariota, was left in charge of re-building Kilchurn Castle. Traditionally, the MacNabs of Barachastlain are descended from a blacksmith summoned by Mariota to forge the ironwork at Kilchurn.
Sir Duncan Campbell was created Lord of Loch Awe and his successor became the first Earl of Argyll. The descendants of Sir Duncan’s younger son, Colin of Glen Orchy, became the Earls and Marquises of Breadalbane.
Sir Colin Campbell (“Grey Colin”) succeeded in buying the overlordship of Glen Strae and the ward and marriage of Gregor MacGregor from the Earl of Argyll. As a result the MacGregors lost the support of the senior branch of Clan Campbell. Sir Colin refused to enfeoff their young chief, Gregor Roy, and so henceforth the landless MacGregors were forced to live in any way they could on the wastes of Rannoch Moor.
Sir Duncan Campbell (“Black Duncan of the Cowl”) ordered the re-building of the medieval church in Dalmally and the construction of the bridge across the Orchy at Stronmilchan.
The Parish of Glenorchy (Glen Orchy, Glen Lochy and Glen Strae) was united with the Parish of Inishail (Cladich and Loch Awe).
Rob Roy MacGregor was captured and brought to trial. He was an eighteenth century “Robin Hood” figure as he had a reputation for stealing cattle from the rich and distributing money to the poor. At his trial he called upon the protection of his kinsman by marriage, the Duke of Argyll, and was spared the gallows. However, he was stripped of his lands and property and forced to leave Glen Strae. He spent the remainder of his life at Balquidder where he was buried.
Major Caulfeild (General Wade’s successor) constructed the military road linking Inveraray, Dalmally and Tyndrum.
The Dalmally to Bonawe road was opened.
The Inveraray-Dalmally-Tyndrum road was opened.
Thomas Pennant published “A Tour in Scotland” which included references to Glen Orchy and, in particular, to the old gravestones in the churchyard.
Samuel Johnson wrote about his travels in the area (“Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland”).
Dalmally Bridge over the Orchy was built at a cost of £650.
Ludovic Picard built a three-storey, three–bay hotel on the site of the present-day Dalmally Hotel. (The original Dalmally Drovers’ Inn stood on the site of the present auction mart). Later (1841- 44) the hotel was extended with the addition of a west wing.
The 4th Earl of Breadalbane ordered the township of Stronmilchan to be divided into crofts. The adoption of more modern agricultural practices meant that landlords moved away from a system of multi-tenancies to single tenancies.
In the First Statistical Account of Scotland the Reverend McIntyre commented – “There are few under fifty or sixty years of age in the parish who cannot read”. The original school which was beside the lime kiln at Auchtermally had a good reputation and apart from local children also had children from the West Indies. (There was a strong trade of roof slate from Easdale to the West Indies which may have accounted for the presence of these children in Glenorchy).
The 4th Earl of Breadalbane completed the re-building of the church in Dalmally.
Death of Duncan Ban MacIntyre, the Gaelic poet. His memorial stands on Dunnock Hill where the old military road climbs south west from Dalmally to Inveraray.
Opening of the granite quarry on Ben Cruachan to provide stone for road building. Roads in the area were extended when the railway came through.
Public and private steam boats entered Loch Awe.
Dorothy Wordsworth’s “Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland AD 1803” was published. This included a description of her visit to Glenorchy with her brother, William.
Dalmally Station opened. At this time it was the end of the Callander-Oban Railway Line.
The Callander-Oban Railway Line was completed.
The Loch Awe was built as a railway hotel.
Walter Campbell’s first design for St Conan’s Kirk was completed.
The Tower of Glenstrae was built.
||||||| Early 1900’s
The Earl of Breadalbane began selling off parcels of Glen Orchy land to nouveau riche industrialists. This led to the removal of crofters from hill pastures and fertile lower slopes. By way of compensation the Earl offered the crofters the alluvial plain on both sides of the river – land prone to flooding. Some crofters took up the offer but others left the area. Without intensive grazing the land quickly became covered in gorse and bracken.
The Marchioness of Breadalbane gifted the mechanism for the church tower clock.
The Glenorchy War Memorial records the names of twenty-six local men who lost their lives fighting for their country during World War I.
St Conan’s Kirk was dedicated for worship.
The A819 road was built along the east side of Loch Awe.
||||||| 1937- 45
The Bridge over the Orchy (“The Yellow Bridge”) was completed.
The Glenorchy War Memorial records the names of five local men who lost their lives fighting for their country in World War II.
Glenview Estate was built jointly by the Forestry Commission and the County Council.
After a history of 500 years the Portsonachan to Taycreggan ferry ceased to operate.
The Cruachan Power Station (“The Hollow Mountain”) was opened by the Queen.
The Craig Estate in Glen Orchy was sold to the Forestry Commission.
The Dalmally Village bypass was opened.
The old Dalmally School was closed and the children were transferred to their new building in Glenview.
The Dalmally Golf Course was opened. The Golf Club bought the land in 1991.
A new surgery, pharmacy and post office were opened close to Glenview.
The Church celebrated its bi-centennial anniversary and the Dalmally Community Centre replaced the old village hall.
The Church of Scotland granted a long lease on the glebe beside the river and the planting of the Community Orchard and Woodland Garden was begun.
“A History of Clan Campbell” (Vo. I & II) by A. Campbell of Airds, (2000 – 2002)
“Kilchurn & the Campbells of Glenorchy” by M. McGrigor (2016)
“Glenorchy Parish Church” pub.by the church (2012)
“Villages of North Argyll” by M. Withall (2004 )
“The Statistical Accounts of the Parish of Glenorchy & Inishail” (1st – Dr J MacIntyre,1792; 2nd– Rev. D MacLean,1843; 3rd – Brigadier J.C.Martin,1953)
“Ferry Tales of Argyll & the Isles” by W Weyndling (1996)
“The Creation of the Military Roads” www.scotshistoryonline.co.uk
“Callander & Oban Railway” by J. Thomas (1966)
“West Highland Steamers” by Duckworth & Langmuir (1967)