Isle of Arran


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The Isle of Arran (Scots Gaelic: Eilean Arainn) is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland, with an area of 430 km² (167 square miles). It is in the unitary council area of North Ayrshire. In the 2001 census it had a resident population of 5,058.

Arran is the seventh largest Scottish island and the ninth largest island surrounding Great Britain (excluding Ireland).

Arran is commonly associated with the Hebrides, with which it shares many cultural and physical similarities, but in actual fact, the Hebrides start off the west coast of Kintyre.

The island lies in the Firth of Clyde between Ayr and Kintyre. The main village on the island is Brodick (Old Norse: broad bay) to which the main ferry to the mainland connects. Brodick Castle is a seat of the Dukes of Hamilton. Arran has many mountains in the north. The highest of these is Goat Fell at 874 metres (2,867 feet). The north of the island has many raised beaches and tall sea cliffs. The island is sometimes referred to as "Scotland in miniature", as it is divided into "Highland" and "Lowland" areas by the Highland Boundary Fault which runs northeast to southwest across Scotland. The island is a popular destination for geologists, who come to see intrusive igneous landforms such as sills and dykes as well as sedimentary and metasedimentary rocks ranging in age from Precambrian to Mesozoic. Most of the interior of the northern half of the island is taken up by a large granite batholith.

There are three main roads on the island; the coast road circumnavigates the island, while the String and the Ross both cut across the hilly interior at different points.

King's Cave is an example of an emergent landform. This cave is exposed above the present day sea level due to isostasy.

There are many stone circles and standing stones dating from neolithic times, including the standing stones on Machrie Moor and the Giant's Graves above Whiting Bay. St. Molio's Cave has wall carvings which are evidence of a rare Pictish script.

It is likely that along with Bute, Arran was once the home of a Brythonic speaking people. However, the Gaels spread to the island from their adjacent kingdom of Dál Riata and replaced the older language with their Goidelic tongue. Later the island, along with the vast majority of the Scottish islands, became the property of the Norwegian crown. As a result, many current place names on Arran are of Viking origin. Haakon IV of Norway visited the island in 1263 en route to the Battle of Largs.

St. Columba and St. Ninian are said to have stayed on Arran, and there are other Irish connections, e.g. a stone circle named Fingal's Cauldron. Nearby is the 34 metres deep King's Cave where Robert the Bruce is said to have taken shelter.

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