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The History of Cumbrae

"In night the fairest prospects sink
where Cumbrae's isles with verdant link
close the fair entrance of the Clyde."
Sir Walter Scott

Around 500AD the Cumbrae isles were part of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. In the Annals of Ulster in 714 AD they were referred to as 'The Isles of the Virgins'.

The isles were ceded to the King of Norway in 1093 and were disputed until the Battle of Largs in 1263. Haco used a camp near Tormont End at the north of the island. After their defeat, the dead Vikings were taken to Cumbrae and buried at various parts with their weapons. The Treaty of Perth in 1266 settled claims over Cumbrae and the Isles were held in trust for King Alexander III.

Millport was the base for Customs policing the Clyde in the 19th century and the Royal George Excise cutter sailed from here. The captain's mansion is the built a Garrison building built in 18th century and later was home to the Glasgow family.

By the 1850's Greater Cumbrae was owned on the East by the Earl of Glasgow and on the West by the Marquis of Bute.

The 6th Lord Glasgow paid for a theological college in Millport comprising a church, college buildings and cloisters. In 1876 it was given Cathedral status. The Cathedral of the Isles is the smallest in Europe. The interior is splendid with rich colours and motifs of local wild flowers.

In the 20th century, with the growth of tourism Millport became a popular stop for Clyde steamers and families going 'Doon the Water for the Fair' (Glasgow Fair holidays). Today most visitors cross over from Largs for a day of leisure on this most accessible island.