Farming

Farming has always been an important part of Ardchattan economy

In the early years after the last mini Ice Age around 8,000 year ago, the land would have been stripped of all the soils, but as we were the last area to have an Ice Age in the UK, there was plenty of materials to recolonise quickly - by air and by sea, and then by land as the ecology stabilised and habitats formed.

Early Man would have entered the area once there were resources to feed themselves, likely once deer were established in the area. We have plenty of traces of their ancient lives, and ones that tell us this area was rich for them, and important. The multitude of Ancient Monuments : Chambered cairns, Crannogs, Standing Stones, all show that there was the resources to build such structures and the people that the community felt important enough to make these immense efforts.

There are quite a few Dun's - hill forts or community dwellings atop the high ground, where people lived together while developing from hunter gatherer to a more pastural way of managing the land and their food.

When the Norse (Vikings and Scandanvian communities) came and settled in the area (we have a longbarrow at North Connel) they brought their superior skills of agriculture and land management to our communities.

Subsistence farming was the main activity of the area for centuries - people surviving, most years, on meagre crops of barley, oats, cattle for milk, and sheep for wool to clothe themselves. The ground is not rich, much of it wet, or mountainous. Only a lucky few got the richer alluvial ground.

It was common practise to take the livestock to the hills in the summer to protect the newly sown crops. Women, children and the elderly men would spend their time, either in one site, or moving from area to area, living in temporary shelters, that could have stone bases, but thatched roofs. There are plenty of these Sheilings around the parish, but likely plenty more to find and map yet. One in Glensalach is a pretty sustainable collection of foundations.

The practice of taking cattle to summer pasture goes far back. At a Baron Court sitting at Kenmore, 21st April, 1623, inter alia "it was statute and ordanit that every tennent sail put out thair heall ky hors, nolt and scheip outwith thair heid dykes fra the first of Maii and remane quhill the aucht day of Junii yearly, and fra the 8 day of Junii to pass to scheillingis and remane quhill the fyftene day of Julii yeirly… ." (Black Book of Taymouth, p. 364)1

As the "Improvements" came in through the latter parts of the 1700's, with greater knowledge of agricultural practises, and the need by the heritors (Campbell of Lochnell, Campbell of Barcaldine, Campbell of Inverawe etc) for cash, more land was enclosed.
It is common that the burial cairns of ancient times were used for walling materials, as there is scarcely many rocks here otherwise.. Drainage was started on suitable ground and increased yields of crops saw the establishment of more corn mills : like the one at Kintaline, by Lochnell, which was a pre-industrial milling community (Barwoulyn in 1654 Blaeu map. The Barcaldine Mill at Rhugarbh is likely to already be in existance, as per a court record of 1712.

The establishment of Crofts created a different sort of community organisation, when exactly did these appear ?

  • Keil Crofts
  • The Crofts of Kinloch, Achnamoine, and Moss
  • Black Crofts
  • White Crofts
  • Achnacree Crofts
  • ANY OTHERS ?

Crops

Boll & other weights
In Scotland, 14th – 19th centuries, a unit of capacity, = 64 pecks. chart symbol The Assize of 1618 created two distinct bolls, one for wheat, pease, beans, rye and white salt, and a larger one for barley, oats and malt.
Like other Scottish measures, the boll was abolished in the Act of Union, 1707. In fact, however, it continued in use until the establishment of imperial measure. The equivalents given in 18th and 19th century international traders' handbooks are remarkably uniform, (all have been converted to liters):More details https://www.sizes.com/units/boll.htm

The definition of a BOLL, 1847
More details of Boll weights etc
*www.scan.org.uk/measures/capacity.asp
*www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/boll
*www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/firlot

Mills

Publications on Agriculture
General View of the Agriculture in the County of Argyll James Robson 1794
[https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=rKVFI6V6OyUC
Report of the state of sheep-farming Scotland, some of Internal Highlands 1791]
General View of Agriculture in Argyll 1798
Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland - On the Agriculture of the County of Argyll
1881 Grazing Cattle and Sheep together Duncan Clerk Oban - Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, Vol. 13
[http://www.bahs.org.uk/AGHR/ARTICLES/13n2a1.pdf Scottish Agriculture before the
Improvers—an Exploration By T. C. SMOUT and ALEXANDER FENTON]

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