Books about Argyll

Welcome to our website about books that are set in or contain facts about Argyll.  Here you can find a selection of history books,  tourist guides, fairy tales and novels that all focuses on Argyll and its rich history.

Recommended books

Argyll & the Islands (Landscapes in Stone) Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

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About Argyll

Argyll (archaically: Argyle) is an ancient shire of wester Scotland. The modern council area of Argyll and Bute is largely made up by the old Argyllshire + the island of Bute and the Helensburgh area. The Morvern and Ardnamurchan areas were included in the shire of Argyll but is now a part of the Highland council area.

Argyll is of ancient origin and has its roots in the ancient kingdom of Dál Riata. The name Argyll or Argyle comes from airer Goídel, which means “border region of the Gaels” or “coast of the Gaels” in Old Gaelic. During the medieval era, Argyll was a bishopric with its cathedral located at Lismor.

Argylls largest towns are Oban, Dunoon and Campbeltown. Inveraray has been the county town of Argyll and is still the seat of the Duke of Argyll. From the 19th century, Lochgilphead was the seat of local government for the county of Argyll.

Clans

Cambell castle
Cambell castle

Historically, the Campbell clan was the main clan in this part of Scotland. This is the clan which hosted the long line of the Duke of Argyll. It should be noted however that until the early 1600s, the Gregor clan held a lot of land too.

The Lamont clan was alternately allied with the Campbells and fighting the Campbells, until the Dunoon massacre of 1646. The Lamont clan existed even after the massacer, but only in small numbers. In the 1800s, the clan chief sold his lands and migrated to Australia.

The MacLean clan is associted with the Isle of Mull and the Duart Castle.

The Duntrune Castle on the banks of Loch Crinan is the seat of the Malcom clan (also known as MacCallum).

Surnames

At the United Kingdom Census of 1881, this was the ten most common surnames in Argyll.

  1. Campbell
  2. McDonald
  3. Cameron
  4. McLean
  5. McMillan
  6. McIntyre
  7. McDougall
  8. McCallum
  9. McKinnon
  10. McArthur

The famous Argyle pattern

An argyle pattern consists of diamonds or lozenges. Most argyle patterns contains layers of overlapping motifs, especially an overaly of intercrossing diagoncal lines on solid diamonds.

It is known as argyle due to its connection to the Clan Campbell, who traditionally wore kilts and plaids sporting this pattern.

Socks featuring a tartan pattern has been worn by Scottish Highlanders since at least the 17th century.

In the 1920s, argyle knitwear became trendy throughout Great Britain and its popularity quickly spread to the United States as well. In knitting patterns, the intarsia technique was typically employed to achieve the argyle pattern. A driving force in this trend was Pringle of Scotland, who marketed their caracteristic Pringle argyle design. The argyle pattern eventually became strongly associated with golf, partly thanks to the Duke of Windsor (in office 1937-1972) who wore jerseys and long socks sporting the pattern when on the golf course.

Examples of Argyll in fiction

Name Type Info
The Queen of Argyll Song Brough to fame by the band Silly Wizard, this song is about a beautiful woman from Argyll.
“The Mark of the Horse Lord” by Rosemary Sutcliff Novel Published in 1965, this novel is set in Earra Gael. In the novel, Dal Riada goes through both internal power struggles and external clashes with the rivaling Caledones.
From Russia with Love Movie In this famous 1963 Bond movie starring Sean Connery, the highlands above the village Lochgoilhead can be seen when Bond kills two villains in a helicopter.
Restless Natives Movie Lochgoilhead and some roads just outside the village can be seen in a chase scene in this Scottish movie from 1985.