[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]
LUSS, a parish in Dumbartonshire; 8½ miles long from north to south, from 2½ to 5 miles broad, and about 33 square miles in superficial extent; bounded on the north by Arrochar; on the east by Loch-Lomond; on the south by Bonhill and Cardross; and on the west by Row and Loch-Long. Alpine mountains, some of them towering aloft to nearly 3,000 feet above the level of the sea, spread out their bases over much the larger part of the area. But the congeries of mountains, even where most compact, is cloven down into glens of such wild beauty and gorgeous picturesqueness, as quite to relieve the rugged aspect of the bold landscape. Along the northern boundary, and for a brief way in the interior, is Glen-Douglas, 4½ miles in length, traversed all the way by the little stream which gives it name, and opening at Inveruglas, or its mouth, upon the ferry across Loch-Lomond to Rowerdennan at the foot of Benlomond. Two and a quarter, and 3½ miles southward, are Glenmaachan and Glenmacurn, converging into the sylvan and joyous glen of Luss, and aggregately with the latter curving 6 miles south-eastward, and traversed by the two head-waters, and the united volume of the streamlet Luss to the village. Farther south, Glenfinlas, watered by its cognominal brook, stretches 3 miles south-eastward, and then runs, in a wooded dress, 1¼ mile eastward to Loch-Lomond, opposite Inchmurrin. Near the southern boundary the lower part of Glenfruin, noted as the scene of a sanguinary fight in 1603, between the clans of Macgregor and Colquhoun, goes 2½ miles eastward and north-eastward to a point 1½ mile south of the termination of the former glen. The only low-lying surface stretches along Loch-Lomond from the southern boundary to Ross-Dhu, the seat of Sir James Colquhoun, Bart., 2 miles south of the village; and is partly level, partly a waving plain, and partly a regular ascent, which soon rises up in acclivity, and becomes lost in the aspirings of the mountains. Many hundred acres, on the low grounds, up the sides and hollows of the glens, and along the whole brink of Loch-Lomond, are covered with wood, much of it natural, and very beautifully grouped. From the southern boundary to the village a series of fine little headlands run out into Loch-Lomond; and north of the village the surface rises up from the very margin of the lake, merely admits of a feathered belting of wood, and then soars away into mountain. The varied superficial outlines of the parish, its low grounds and its uplands, its woods and its glens, contribute largely and very gorgeously to the magnificent framework in which the pictured beauties of the most boasted of the Scottish lakes is set. Some of the loveliest baskets of shrubbery, too, which rest on the lake’s waters, are contributed by Luss; for INCHTAVANACH, INCHCONACHAN, INCHLONAIG, INCHGALBRAITH, and INCHFRIECHLAN, are all within its limits. See these articles. Two of the most admired views of the lake and of the scenery which environs it, are obtained from the highest grounds of Inchtavanach, and from Strone-hill in the vicinity of the village. Loch-Long touches the parish, or rather a protrusion of it, over a distance of only ¾ of a mile. Copious springs of excellent water are numerous. The extent of land in tillage is greatly narrowed – though highly to the advantage of the scenic attractions of the parish – by several hundreds of acres of the best arable grounds being disposed in lawn, pasture, and plantation around Ross-Dhu. The extensive hill pastures maintain numerous herds of Highland black cattle, and large flocks of blackfaced sheep. A freestone quarry supplies building material for local use; and quarries of greyish-blue and of dark-blue slate, at Camstraddon and Luss, yielding a large and enriching produce for exportation. On the Fruin are a saw-mill, a grain-mill, and a mill for paring down logwood; and on the Luss above the village are a saw-mill and a grain-mill. About 1¼ mile south of the village are the remains of a large cairn called Carn-na-Cheasoig, ‘the cairn of St. Kessog.’ This saint is said to have suffered martyrdom near the site of the cairn in the 6th century, and to have been buried on the site of the church; and he was anciently worshipped by the Romanists as the tutelary of the parish. Haco of Norway, during his invasion of 1263, spread bloodshed and devastation through Luss and its islands. Alwyn, the second Earl of Lennox, granted the lands of Luss to the dean of Lennox; and from the dean’s descendants the lands passed, in the 14th century, to the Colquhouns of Colquhoun. One of the Colquhouns, called Sir John, was, in 1474, made Lord-high-chamberlain of Scotland, became, in 1477, governor of Dumbarton-castle for life; and, in 1478, was killed in defending the fortress from besiegers. The celebrated Rev. John McLaurin, known generally in connection only with his subsequent ministry in Glasgow, and the recent distinguished scholar and Gaelic translator, Dr. John Stuart, were ministers of Luss. The beautiful and very picturesquely situated village of Luss stands on the margin of Loch-Lomond, distant 9 miles from Helensburgh, and 13 from Dumbarton. The place is a crowded resort of tasteful tourists during the balmy months of the year, and has a good inn. A fair is held in it for sheep and lambs on the 3d Tuesday of August. The population of the village is about 260. The turnpike from Dumbarton to the Highlands passes along the margin of the lake through the village, and two other turnpikes cut the southern division, the one coming northward from Helensburgh, and the other going westward up Glenfruin. Population, in 1801, 953; in 1831, 1,181. Houses 191. Assessed property, in 1815, £4,233. – Luss is in the presbytery of Dumbarton, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, Sir James Colquhoun, Bart. Stipend £219 13s. 3d.; glebe £17. The amount of unappropriated teinds cannot be ascertained. The church, with about 500 sittings, and excellent in its masonry, was built in 1771. The parish, previous to the Reformation, was a rectory, and between 1429 and that epoch was a prebend of the cathedral of Glasgow, and was served by the prebendary’s vicar pensioner. The ancient parish was greatly more extensive than the modern. In 1621, the forty pound lands of Buchanan, on the east side of Loch-Lomond, were detached from it, and incorporated with Inchcailliach, the modern Buchanan: in 1659, the lands of four proprietors, at the south end of the lake, were annexed to Bonhill; and, in 1658, all the extensive territory on the north, which now constitutes Arrochar, was made independent; but, on the contrary, the lands of Caldannach, Presstelloch, and Conglens, which anciently belonged to Inchcailliach, have, in modern times, been united to Luss; and the lands of Bannachrae, within the limits of Row, are attached to it quoad sacra. A chapel, subordinate to the parish-church, anciently stood on the lands of Buchanan. Besides the parochial school, there are a private school, a school for females, and supported by Lady Colquhoun, and a school maintained by the society in Scotland for propagating Christian knowledge. Parish schoolmaster’s salary £34, with from £9 to £12 fees. – Luss is remarkable for the salubriousness of its climate. Mr. Pennant, in 1769, specified six of its inhabitants whose united ages were 540; and the Rev. Dr. Stewart, in his Statistical Report of 1792, specified other six whose joint ages were 502.