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In pre-history, Lorn and Lochaber had many more islands as the sea level was about 1.4 metres higher - note the raised beaches at Port Appin, Portnacroish and Cuil Bay, as well as the hole in the rock at Clach Thoull

(pictured right).

About 1300 BC the weather in the Highlands changed dramatically, with temperatures dropping and rainfall levels doubling within 10 years, causing the whole population to move to the Central Belt. Gradually, the climate improved and the Picts returned to this area, building brochs between 100 and 600 AD, one of the best examples being at Tirefour on Lismore.

Until 1300 AD a gentle climate made the seas the main communication route and Christians arrived from Ireland - St Moluag to Lismore in 563 AD, St Columba to Iona in 564 AD and thereafter one of his followers, St Veralmus, consecrated the first holy ground in Appin. The name Appin arose at this time from the Gaelic Apuin - Abbey Lands - of the Lismore Abbey founded by St Moluag. There is no history of violence in the arrival of Christianity and the Gaels, although boundaries of territory with the Norsemen across from Scandinavia was disputed and eventually agreed. they held South Argyll from Tarbert southwards and the northern part of the Western Isles until the Battle of Largs in 1263, when King Halkan was defeated and sailed back to Norway, never to return, as the weather again deteriorated with lower temperatures and higher winds which made the journey hazardous.

With the Vikings removed, the Gaels seemed to become more aggresive and protective castles appeared throughout the area - Maiden's Castle at Glensanda, Castle Coeffin and Achaduin on Lismore, Dunollie, Dunstaffnage, the Black Castle at Barcaldine and, of course, Castle Stalker.

After Culloden, Appin saw mass emigration and the population reduced as poverty became widespread in the Highlands. The Episcopal Church at Portnacroish was an important buffer against poverty prior to the disruption in 1843, when the Free Church was formed, Appin's Parish Church being built in 1890. Things did not improve until the social legislation of the 19th Century and the Crofting Legislation of the 1880s, following the Napier Commission.

Education spread to the Highlands. Medical care became organised after the Dewar Report, prompting the Highlands and Islands Medical Service which became a prototype for the National Health Service.

Gradually the economic and social fabric of Appin has improved as new inhabitants have moved into the area from all round the world, bringing new ideas to accompany the traditional way of life which has survived many centuries.

This article, by Iain McNicol, is from "Appin & District - A Visitor's Guide",                       published by Appin Historical Society

Appin's History

Castle stalker.jpg
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