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Bute- A Mesmerizing Island


The Isle of Bute, in the Firth of Clyde, is a small island in Scotland that measures just fifteen miles in length and is three miles wide. Famous for its quiet beaches, beautiful greenery, and fine architectural monuments, Bute is a magnet for tourists. Bute was previously part of the county of Buteshire, but it now falls under the council area of Argyll and Bute.

Brief History

People who spoke the Brythonic language, which is similar to what we today commonly know as Welsh, inhabited this small island. The island later came to be known as Rothesay, and the main town of the island was called Bute. This name can be traced back to the Viking period. However, the names had to be swapped later on due to their long term and popular misuse, and hence the island was officially named Bute.

After the Viking period was over the Lord of the Isles did not receive the island of Bute as a grant, even though most of the western islands we granted to the Lord of Isles. The Scottish monarchy made Bute its personal property.

The human occupation of Bute can be traced back over 5,500 years. Archeologists have discovered the presence of Iron Age defense systems, standing stones, cists, cup markings, and other artifacts in Bute as evidence of its age. St. Blane’s Chapel dates back to the 12th century and is one of the impressive archeological specimens of the early Christian era. Mount Stuart House is considered one of the most magnificent neo-Gothic mansions and attracts those who study architecture.  The third Marquess residing in this mansion was passionate about mystic art, astrology, and spirituality. The art collection and furnishings of the house reflect the same. The Pavilion built during the 1930s includes a concert hall, a café, and some workshops and also flaunts noteworthy design and architecture. 

Bute is the ancestral homeland of The Stuart Kings of Scotland. Rothesay Castle, which was constructed over 800 years ago, boasts of being the most unique and intriguing monument in Scotland. The hereditary High Steward of Scotland, named Stuart, built it. Rothesay Castle, popular for its circular design, is believed to have withstood many attacks by invaders including a Viking onslaught. The castle was captured by the English during the Wars of Independence.  In 1311 Robert the Bruce retook it. Unfortunately, the troops of Cromwell partially destroyed this grand castle, and it was afterwards burned and sacked in 1685 by the Duke of Argyll. Over the past 120 years, significant work has been done to restore the integrity of the castle.

Bute also played an important role in housing a large camp of officers and Polish military people during World War II.  It was unofficially also believed to be a place where Wladyslaw Sirkorski’s political enemies were kept as prisoners.

The island, though now sparsely populated, has tourists visiting it year round due to its serene beaches and architectural remains of monuments such as St. Catan, St. Blane, St. Ninian’s Point and many others that reflect the heritage of Bute.