Firth is a word in the Scots and English languages used to denote various coastal waters in Scotland and a strait. In the Northern Isles, it more refers to a smaller inlet, it is linguistically cognate to fjord. Bodies of water named "firths" tend to be more common on the east coast, or in the southwest of the country, although the Firth of Lorn is an exception to this; the Highland coast contains numerous estuaries and inlets of a similar kind, but not called "firth". Before about 1850, the spelling "Frith" was more common. A firth is the result of ice age glaciation and is often associated with a large river, where erosion caused by the tidal effects of incoming sea water passing upriver has widened the riverbed into an estuary. Demarcation can be rather vague; the Firth of Clyde is sometimes thought to include the estuary as far upriver as Dumbarton, but the Ordnance Survey map shows the change from river to firth occurring off Port Glasgow, while locally the change is held to be at the Tail of the Bank where the river crosses a sandbar off Greenock at the junction to the Gare Loch, or further west at Gourock point.
However, some firths are exceptions. The Cromarty Firth on the east coast of Scotland, for example, resembles a large loch with only a small outlet to the sea and the Solway Firth and the Moray Firth are more like large bays; the Pentland Firth is a strait rather than an inlet. Firth of Lorn (northernmost, connects with the Moray Firth via the Great Glen lochs, the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness at Inverness. Lochs adjoining the Firth: Loch Lochy, Loch Linnhe, Loch Leven, Loch Oich. Places: Oban, Fort William. Islands: Isle of Mull and Kerrera. Firth of Clyde Sea lochs adjoining the Firth of Clyde: Gare Loch, Loch Long, Holy Loch, Loch Striven, Loch Riddon off the Kyles of Bute, Loch Fyne and Campbeltown Loch. Places: Helensburgh, Port Glasgow, Gourock, Rothesay, Wemyss Bay, Brodick, Troon, Ayr and Campbeltown. Note that Glasgow is at the tidal limit of the River Clyde, Clydebank, the Erskine Bridge and Dumbarton are on the river estuary as it widens out towards Port Glasgow. Islands: Bute, Arran In Scottish Gaelic, the Firth of Clyde is treated as two bodies, with the landward end being called Linne Chluaidh, while the area around the south of Arran and Ayrshire/Galloway is An Linne Ghlas.
Solway Firth. The Firth is off the Solway Coast. Rough Firth Places: Carlisle, England on the River Eden and Gretna, both in Scotland. Luce Bay, Wigtown, St Bees, Aspatria These are connected to, or form part of, the North Sea. Dornoch Firth Places: Dornoch, Dornoch Bridge, Bonar Bridge, Kyle of Sutherland, Portmahomack on Tarbat Ness. Rivers: Oykel, Cassley and Carron Headland: Tarbat Ness. Cromarty Firth; the Firth runs out into the Moray Firth. Places: Cromarty, Invergordon. Rivers: Conon, Rusdale, Alness. Moray Firth and Beauly Firth connected with the Firth of Inverness; the Firth of Inverness is identified on modern maps, but forms a connection via the River Ness, Loch Ness and the other lochs of the Great Glen and stretches of the Caledonian Canal with the Firth of Lorne on the west coast of Scotland. Places on the Moray Firth: Inverness, Fortrose, Fort George. Headlands: Whiteness Head, Chanonry Point, Alturlie Point. Places on the Beauly Firth: Beauly. Firth of Tay. Places: Perth, Monifieth, Newport on Tay, Fife.
Rivers: Tay, Earn. Headland: Buddon Ness. Islands: Mugdrum Island Firth of Forth Places: Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy, Stirling, Rosyth, North Queensferry, South Queensferry, Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem, St Monans, Earlsferry, Aberlady, Dirleton, North Berwick, it is spanned by the Forth Road Bridge, 2,512 m long, the Forth Bridge, 2,498m long. Rivers: Forth, River Avon, Water of Leith, River Almond, River Esk, River Leven Islands: Bass Rock, Eyebroughy, Inchcolm, Inchkeith, Isle of May, The Lamb The Pentland Firth; this is a strait between the Scottish mainland and the Orkney Islands, forms a link between the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea. Places: John o' Groats, Gills Bay, Rattar Headlands: Brims Ness, Brough Ness, Duncansby Head, Dunnet Head Islands: Hoy, Pentland Skerries, South Ronaldsay, South Walls. In Shetland in particular, "firth" can refer to smaller inlets, although geo and wick are as common. In Orkney, "wick" is common. Orkney Islands Bay of Firth North Ronaldsay Firth Stronsay Firth Westray Firth Wide Firth Shetland Islands Lax Firth & Cat Firth near Nesting & Whiteness Collafirth/Colla Firth Firths Voe, Firth Gon Firth Olna Firth Olnes Firth Quey Firth Unie Firth Ura Firth Burra Firth/Burrafirth Effirth Shetland North Isles: Yell, Unst Whale Firth Burrafirth In the Scottish Gaelic language, linne is
The border between England and Scotland runs for 96 miles between Marshall Meadows Bay on the east coast and the Solway Firth in the west. It is Scotland's only land border with another country, one of England's two; the Firth of Forth was the border between the Picto-Gaelic Kingdom of Alba and the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria in the early 10th century. It became the first Anglo-Scottish border with the annexation of Northumbria by Anglo-Saxon England in the mid 10th century. In 973, King of Scots attended the English king, Edgar the Peaceful, at his council in Chester. After Kenneth had done homage, Edgar rewarded Kenneth by granting him Lothian. Despite this transaction, the control of Lothian was not settled and the region was taken by the Scots at the Battle of Carham in 1018 and the River Tweed became the de facto Anglo-Scottish border; the Solway–Tweed line was established in 1237 by the Treaty of York between England and Scotland. It remains the border today, with the exception of the Debatable Lands, north of Carlisle, a small area around Berwick-upon-Tweed, taken by England in 1482.
It is thus one of the oldest extant borders in the world, although Berwick was not annexed into England until 1746, by the Wales and Berwick Act 1746. For centuries until the Union of the Crowns the region on either side of the boundary was a lawless territory suffering from the repeated raids in each direction of the Border Reivers. Following the Treaty of Union 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united Scotland with England and Wales to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Border continues to form the boundary of two distinct legal jurisdictions as the treaty between the two countries guaranteed the continued separation of English law and Scots law; the age of legal capacity under Scots law is 16, while it was 18 under English law. The border settlements of Gretna Green to the west, Coldstream and Lamberton to the east, were convenient for elopers from England who wanted to marry under Scottish laws, marry without publicity; the marine boundary was adjusted by the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999 so that the boundary within the territorial waters is 0.09-kilometre north of the boundary for oil installations established by the Civil Jurisdiction Order 1987.
The border country known as the Scottish Marches, is the area either side of the Anglo-Scottish border including parts of the modern council areas of Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, parts of the English counties of Cumbria and Northumberland. It is a hilly area, with the Scottish Southern Uplands to the north, the Cheviot Hills forming the border between the two countries to the south. From the Norman conquest of England until the reign of James VI of Scotland, who in the course of his reign became James I of England while retaining the more northerly realm, border clashes were common and the monarchs of both countries relied on Scottish Earls of March and Lord Warden of the Marches to defend and control the frontier region. In 1333, during the Second War of Scottish Independence, Scotland was defeated at the Battle of Halidon Hill. Thereafter, Edward Balliol, the titular King of Scots, made formal his promises to the English king, Edward III and yielded a considerable portion of southern Scotland to England at the 1334 Treaty of Newcastle.
A 16th-century Act of the Scottish Parliament talks about the chiefs of the border clans, a late 17th-century statement by the Lord Advocate uses the terms "clan" and "family" interchangeably. Although Lowland aristocrats may have liked to refer to themselves as "families", the idea that the term "clan" should be used of Highland families alone is a 19th-century convention. Historic Border clans include the following: Armstrong, Bannatyne, Briar, Elliot, Hedley of Redesdale, Home or Hume, Jardine, Kerr, Moffat, Ogilvy, Routledge, Tweedie. During late medieval and early modern eras—from the late 13th century, with the creation by Edward I of England of the first Lord Warden of the Marches to the early 17th century and the creation of the Middle Shires, promulgated after the personal union of England and Scotland under James VI of Scotland —the area around the border was known as the Scottish Marches. For centuries the Marches on either side of the boundary was an area of mixed allegiances, where families or clans switched which country or side they supported as suited their family interests at that time, lawlessness abounded.
Before the personal union of the two kingdoms under James, the border clans would switch allegiance between the Scottish and English crowns depending on what was most favourable for the members of the clan. For a time a powerful local clan dominated a region on the border between Scotland, it was known as the Debatable Lands and neither monarch's writ was heeded. Following the 1603 Union of the Crowns, King James VI & I decreed that the Borders should be renamed'the Middle Shires'. In the same year the King placed George Home, 1st Earl of Dunbar in charge of pacification of the borders. Courts were known reivers were arrested; the more troublesome and lower classes were executed without trial. Mass hanging soon became a common occurrence. In 1605 he established a joint commission of ten members, drawn from Scotland and England, to bring law and order to the region; this was aided by statutes in 1606 and 1609, first to repeal hostile laws on both sides of the border, an
The Irish Sea separates the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. Anglesey, Wales, is the largest island in the Irish Sea; the second in size is the Isle of Man and the sea may but be referred to as the Manx Sea. The Irish Sea is of significant economic importance to regional trade and transport, power generation in the form of wind power and nuclear power plants. Annual traffic between Great Britain and Ireland amounts to over 12 million passengers and 17 million tonnes of traded goods; the Irish Sea is connected to the North Atlantic at both its southern ends. To the north, the connection is through the North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Malin Sea; the southern end is linked to the Atlantic through the St George's Channel between Ireland and Pembrokeshire, the Celtic Sea. It is composed of a deeper channel about 190 miles long and 20–30 miles wide on its western side and shallower bays to the east; the western channel's depth ranges from 80 metres up to 275 m in the Beaufort's Dyke in the North Channel.
Cardigan Bay in the south, the waters to the east of the Isle of Man, are less than 50 m deep. With a total water volume of 2,430 km3 and a surface area of 47,000 km2, 80% is to the west of the Isle of Man; the largest sandbanks are the Bahama and King William Banks to the east and north of the Isle of Man and the Kish Bank, Codling Bank, Arklow Bank and Blackwater Bank near the coast of Ireland. The Irish Sea, at its greatest width, narrows to 47 miles; the International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Irish Sea as follows, On the North. The Southern limit of the Inner Seas off the West Coast of Scotland, defined as a line joining the South extreme of the Mull of Galloway in Scotland and Ballyquintin Point in Northern Ireland. On the South. A line joining St. David's Head in Wales to Carnsore Point in Ireland; the Irish Sea has undergone a series of dramatic changes over the last 20,000 years as the last glacial period ended and was replaced by warmer conditions. At the height of the glaciation, the central part of the modern sea was a long freshwater lake.
As the ice retreated 10,000 years ago, the lake reconnected to the sea. Ireland has no bridge connection to Great Britain. Northern Ireland ports handle 10 million tonnes of goods trade with the rest of the United Kingdom annually; the Port of Liverpool handles 734 thousand passengers a year. Holyhead port handles most of the passenger traffic from Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ports, as well as 3.3 million tonnes of freight. Ports in the Republic handle 3,600,000 travellers crossing the sea each year, amounting to 92% of all Irish Sea travel. Ferry connections from Wales to Ireland across the Irish Sea include Fishguard Harbour and Pembroke to Rosslare, Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire and Holyhead to Dublin. From Scotland, Cairnryan connects with both Larne. There is a connection between Liverpool and Belfast via the Isle of Man or direct from Birkenhead; the world's largest car ferry, Ulysses, is operated by Irish Ferries on the Dublin Port–Holyhead route. "Irish Sea" is the name of one of the BBC's Shipping Forecast areas defined by the coordinates: 54°50′N 05°05′W 54°45′N 05°45′W 52°30′N 06°15′W 52°00′N 05°05′WTransport for Wales Rail, Iarnród Éireann, Irish Ferries, Stena Line, Northern Ireland Railways, Stena Line and Abellio ScotRail promote SailRail with through rail tickets for the train and the ferry.
The Caernarfon Bay basin contains up to 7 cubic kilometres of Permian and Triassic syn-rift sediments in an asymmetrical graben, bounded to the north and south by Lower Paleozoic massifs. Only two exploration wells have been drilled so far, there remain numerous undrilled targets in tilted fault block plays; as in the East Irish Sea Basin, the principal target reservoir is the Lower Triassic, Sherwood Sandstone, top-sealed by younger Triassic mudstones and evaporites. Wells in the Irish Sector to the west have demonstrated that pre-rift, Westphalian coal measures are excellent hydrocarbon source rocks, are at peak maturity for gas generation. Seismic profiles image these strata continuing beneath a basal Permian unconformity into at least the western part of the Caernarfon Bay Basin; the timing of gas generation presents the greatest exploration risk. Maximum burial of, primary gas migration from, the source rocks could have terminated as early as the Jurassic, whereas many of the tilted fault blocks were reactivated or created during Paleogene inversion of the basin.
However, it is possible that a secondary gas charge occurred during regional heating associated with intrusion of Paleogene dykes, such as those that crop out nearby on the coastline of north Wales. (Floodpage et al
Flora of Scotland
The flora of Scotland is an assemblage of native plant species including over 1,600 vascular plants, more than 1,500 lichens and nearly 1,000 bryophytes. The total number of vascular species is low by world standard but lichens and bryophytes are abundant and the latter form a population of global importance. Various populations of rare fern exist, although the impact of 19th-century collectors threatened the existence of several species; the flora is typical of the north west European part of the Palearctic ecozone and prominent features of the Scottish flora include boreal Caledonian forest, heather moorland and coastal machair. In addition to the native varieties of vascular plants there are numerous non-native introductions, now believed to make up some 43% of the species in the country. There are a variety of specimens; the Arran Whitebeams, Shetland Mouse-ear and Scottish Primrose are endemic flowering plants and there are a variety of endemic mosses and lichens. Conservation of the natural environment is well developed and various organisations play an important role in the stewardship of the country's flora.
Numerous references to the country's flora appear in folklore and poetry. Scotland enjoys a diversity of temperate ecologies, incorporating both deciduous and coniferous woodlands, moorland, estuarine, freshwater and tundra landscapes. 14% of Scotland is wooded, much of it forestry plantations, but prior to human clearing there would have been much larger areas of boreal Caledonian and broad-leaved forest. Although much reduced, significant remnants of the native Scots Pine woodlands can be found in places. Seventeen percent of Scotland is covered by heather peatland. Caithness and Sutherland have some of the largest and most intact areas of blanket bog in the world, supporting a distinctive wildlife community. Seventy-five percent of Scotland's land is classed as agricultural with urban areas accounting for around 3% of the total; the number of islands with terrestrial vegetation is nearly 800, about 600 of them lying off the west coast. Scotland has more than 90% of the volume and 70% of the total surface area of fresh water in the United Kingdom.
There are 6,600 river systems. Below the tree line there are several zones of climax forest. Birch dominates to the west and north, Scots Pine with Birch and oak in the eastern Highlands and oak with Birch in the Central Lowlands and Borders. Much of the Scottish coastline consists of machair, a fertile dune pasture land formed as sea levels subsided after the last ice age. Machairs have received considerable ecological and conservational attention, chiefly because of their unique ecosystems; the total number of vascular species is low by world standards due to the effects of Pleistocene glaciations and the subsequent creation of the North Sea. Nonetheless, there are a variety of important assemblages. Heather moor containing Ling, Bell Heather, Cross-leaved Heath, Bog Myrtle and fescues is abundant and contains various smaller flowering species such as Cloudberry and Alpine Ladies-mantle. Cliffs and mountains host a diversity of arctic and alpine plants including Alpine Pearlwort, Mossy Cyphal, Mountain Avens and Fir Clubmoss.
On the Hebridean islands of the west coast, there are plantago pastures, which grow well in locations exposed to sea spray and include Red Fescue, Sea Plantain and Sea Pink. The machair landscapes include rare species such as Irish Lady's Tresses, Yellow Rattle and numerous orchids along with more common species such as Marram and Buttercup, Bird's-foot Trefoil and Ribwort Plantain. Scots Lovage, first recorded in 1684 by Robert Sibbald, the Oyster Plant are common plants of the coasts. Bogbean and Water Lobelia are common plants of moorland lochans; the Least and White Water-lilies are widespread. Pipewort has generated some botanical controversy regarding its discovery and distribution, it was found growing on Skye in the 18th century, although there was subsequent confusion as to both the discoverer and the correct scientific name – now agreed to be Eriocaulon aquaticum. The European range of this plant is confined to Scotland and western Ireland and it is one of only a small number of species, common in North America, but restricted in Europe.
There are a few localised examples of the Rigid Hornwort. Grasses and sedges are common everywhere except stony mountain tops and plateaux; the total number of species is large, 84 have been recorded on the verges of a single road in West Lothian. Smooth Meadow-grass and Broad-leaved Meadow-grass are widespread in damp lowland conditions, Wood Sedge in woodlands, Oval Sedge and Early Hair-grass on upland moors. In damp conditions Phragmites reeds and several species of Juncus are found abundantly including Jointed Rush, Soft Rush and Toad Rush, less the introduced species Slender Rush. Common Cottongrass is a familiar site on marshy land, but Saltmarsh Sedge was only discovered for the first time in 2004 at the head of Loch Duich. Shetland Mouse-ear is an endemic plant found in Shetland, it was first recorded in 1837 by Shetland botanist Thomas Edmondston. Although reported from two other sites in the 19th century, it grows only on tw
The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area, it separates the "Old World" from the "New World". The Atlantic Ocean occupies an elongated, S-shaped basin extending longitudinally between Europe and Africa to the east, the Americas to the west; as one component of the interconnected global ocean, it is connected in the north to the Arctic Ocean, to the Pacific Ocean in the southwest, the Indian Ocean in the southeast, the Southern Ocean in the south. The Equatorial Counter Current subdivides it into the North Atlantic Ocean and the South Atlantic Ocean at about 8°N. Scientific explorations of the Atlantic include the Challenger expedition, the German Meteor expedition, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the United States Navy Hydrographic Office; the oldest known mentions of an "Atlantic" sea come from Stesichorus around mid-sixth century BC: Atlantikoi pelágei and in The Histories of Herodotus around 450 BC: Atlantis thalassa where the name refers to "the sea beyond the pillars of Heracles", said to be part of the sea that surrounds all land.
Thus, on one hand, the name refers to Atlas, the Titan in Greek mythology, who supported the heavens and who appeared as a frontispiece in Medieval maps and lent his name to modern atlases. On the other hand, to early Greek sailors and in Ancient Greek mythological literature such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, this all-encompassing ocean was instead known as Oceanus, the gigantic river that encircled the world. In contrast, the term "Atlantic" referred to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and the sea off the Strait of Gibraltar and the North African coast; the Greek word thalassa has been reused by scientists for the huge Panthalassa ocean that surrounded the supercontinent Pangaea hundreds of millions of years ago. The term "Aethiopian Ocean", derived from Ancient Ethiopia, was applied to the Southern Atlantic as late as the mid-19th century. During the Age of Discovery, the Atlantic was known to English cartographers as the Great Western Ocean; the term The Pond is used by British and American speakers in context to the Atlantic Ocean, as a form of meiosis, or sarcastic understatement.
The term dates to as early as 1640, first appearing in print in pamphlet released during the reign of Charles I, reproduced in 1869 in Nehemiah Wallington's Historical Notices of Events Occurring Chiefly in The Reign of Charles I, where "great Pond" is used in reference to the Atlantic Ocean by Francis Windebank, Charles I's Secretary of State. The International Hydrographic Organization defined the limits of the oceans and seas in 1953, but some of these definitions have been revised since and some are not used by various authorities and countries, see for example the CIA World Factbook. Correspondingly, the extent and number of oceans and seas varies; the Atlantic Ocean is bounded on the west by South America. It connects to the Arctic Ocean through the Denmark Strait, Greenland Sea, Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea. To the east, the boundaries of the ocean proper are Europe: the Strait of Africa. In the southeast, the Atlantic merges into the Indian Ocean; the 20° East meridian, running south from Cape Agulhas to Antarctica defines its border.
In the 1953 definition it extends south to Antarctica, while in maps it is bounded at the 60° parallel by the Southern Ocean. The Atlantic has irregular coasts indented by numerous bays and seas; these include the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caribbean Sea, Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, part of the Drake Passage, Gulf of Mexico, Labrador Sea, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea all of the Scotia Sea, other tributary water bodies. Including these marginal seas the coast line of the Atlantic measures 111,866 km compared to 135,663 km for the Pacific. Including its marginal seas, the Atlantic covers an area of 106,460,000 km2 or 23.5% of the global ocean and has a volume of 310,410,900 km3 or 23.3% of the total volume of the earth's oceans. Excluding its marginal seas, the Atlantic covers 81,760,000 km2 and has a volume of 305,811,900 km3; the North Atlantic covers 41,490,000 km2 and the South Atlantic 40,270,000 km2. The average depth is 3,646 m and the maximum depth, the Milwaukee Deep in the Puerto Rico Trench, is 8,486 m.
The bathymetry of the Atlantic is dominated by a submarine mountain range called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It runs from 87°N or 300 km south of the North Pole to the subantarctic Bouvet Island at 42°S; the MAR divides the Atlantic longitudinally into two halves, in each of which a series of basins are delimited by secondary, transverse ridges. The MAR reaches above 2,000 m along most of its length, but is interrupted by larger transform faults at two places: the Romanche Trench near the Equator and the Gibbs Fracture Zone at 53°N; the MAR is a barrier for bottom water, but at these two transform faults deep water currents can pass from one side to the othe
Islands of the Clyde
The Islands of the Firth of Clyde are the fifth largest of the major Scottish island groups after the Inner and Outer Hebrides and Shetland. They are situated in the Firth of Clyde between Argyll and Bute. There are about forty islands and skerries, of which only four are inhabited and only nine larger than 40 hectares; the largest and most populous are Arran and Bute, Great Cumbrae and Holy Isle are served by dedicated ferry routes. Unlike the four larger Scottish archipelagos, none of the isles in this group are connected to one another or to the mainland by bridges; the geology and geomorphology of the area is complex and the islands and the surrounding sea lochs each have distinctive features. The influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the North Atlantic Drift create a mild, damp oceanic climate; the larger islands have been continuously inhabited since Neolithic times, were influenced by the emergence of the kingdom of Dál Riata from 500 AD and absorbed into the emerging Kingdom of Alba under Kenneth MacAlpin.
They experienced Viking incursions during the Early Middle Ages and became part of the Kingdom of Scotland in the 13th century. There is a diversity including three species of rare endemic tree; the Highland Boundary Fault runs past Bute and through the northern part of Arran, so from a geological perspective some of the islands are in the Highlands and some in the Central Lowlands. As a result, Arran is sometimes referred to as "Scotland in miniature" and 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. Visiting in 1787, the geologist James Hutton found his first example of an unconformity there and this spot is one of the most famous places in the study of geology. A group of weakly metamorphosed rocks that form the Highland Border Complex lie discontinuously along the Highland Boundary Fault. One of the most prominent exposures is along Loch Fad on Bute. Ailsa Craig, which lies some 25 kilometres south of Arran, has been quarried for a rare type of micro-granite containing riebeckite known as "Ailsite", used by Kays of Scotland to make curling stones.
As of 2004, 60 to 70% of all curling stones in use were made from granite from the island. In common with the rest of Scotland the Firth of Clyde was covered by ice sheets during the Pleistocene ice ages and the landscape is much affected by glaciation. Arran's highest peaks may have been nunataks at this time. After the last retreat of the ice sea level changes and the isostatic rise of land makes charting post glacial coastlines a complex task but the resultant clifflines behind raised beaches are a prominent feature of the entire coastline; the soils of the islands reflect the diverse geology. Bute has the most productive land, a pattern of deposits, typical of the southwest of Scotland. There is a mixture of boulder clay and other glacial deposits in the eroded valleys, raised beach and marine deposits elsewhere to the south and west which result in a machair landscape in places, inland from the sandy bays, such as Stravanan; the Firth of Clyde, in which these island lie, is north of the Irish Sea and has numerous branching inlets, some of them substantial features in their own right.
These include Loch Long, Gare Loch, Loch Fyne and the estuary of the River Clyde. In places the effect of glaciation on the seabed is pronounced. For example, the Firth is 320 metres deep between Arran and Bute, although they are only 8 kilometres apart; the islands are all exposed to wind and tide and various lighthouses, such as those on Ailsa Craig and Davaar act as an aid to navigation. The Firth of Clyde lies between 55 and 56 degrees north, at the same latitude as Labrador in Canada and north of the Aleutian Islands, but the influence of the North Atlantic Drift—the northern extension of the Gulf Stream—ameliorates the winter weather and the area enjoys a mild, damp oceanic climate. Temperatures are cool, averaging about 6 °C in January and 14 °C in July at sea level. Snow lies at sea level and frosts are less frequent than the mainland. In common with most islands of the west coast of Scotland, rainfall is high at between 1,300 mm per annum on Bute, the Cumbraes and in the south of Arran and 1,900 mm per annum in the north of Arran.
The Arran mountains are wetter still with the summits receiving over 2,550 mm annually. May and July are the sunniest months, with upwards of 200 hours of bright sunshine being recorded on average, southern Bute benefiting from a high level of sunny days. Mesolithic humans arrived in the Firth of the Clyde during the fourth millennium BC from Ireland; this was followed by a wave of Neolithic peoples using the same route and there is some evidence that the Firth of Clyde was a significant route via which mainland Scotland was colonised at this time. A particular style of megalithic structure developed in Argyll, the Clyde estuary and elsewhere in western Scotland that has become known as the Clyde cairn, they are rectangular or trapezoidal in shape with a small enclosing chamber faced with large slabs of stone set on end and sometimes subdivided into smaller compartments. A forecourt area may have been used for displays or rituals associated with the interment of the dead, who were placed inside the chambers.
They are concentrated in Arran and Kintyre and it is that the Clyde cairns were the earliest forms of Neolithic monument constructed by incoming settlers although few of the 100 or so examples have been given a radiocarbon dating. An example at Monamore on Arran has been dated to 3160 BC, although it was alm
Islands of the Forth
The Islands of the Forth are a group of small islands located in the Firth of Forth and in the estuary of the River Forth on the east coast of Scotland. Most of the group lie in the open waters of the firth, between the Lothians and Fife, with the majority to the east of the city of Edinburgh. Two islands lie further west in the river estuary; the islands have a varied geology and history and several have both ecclesiastical connections and were involved in military occupations throughout the centuries of recorded history. Various lighthouses and other aids to navigation have been erected on the islands and skerries, one dating to the 17th century, but only one of the islands is still permanently inhabited; the area has a diversity of bird and sea life and the scientific name for the northern gannet is derived from this bird's connection with the Bass Rock. There are few islands off eastern Scotland and most of any size are in this group. Furthest east is the Isle of May, off the coast of Fife south of Crail.
To the south in the outer Firth there is a group of islands off East Lothian near North Berwick and Gullane. A second group lie in the inner Firth of Forth. Inchkeith and Inchcolm are off Kinghorn and Aberdour on the north shore, Inchgarvie lies midway between North and South Queensferry, Inchmickery and Cramond Island are nearer to Edinburgh on the south shore. Alloa Inch and Tullibody Inch are furthest west in the estuarine waters of the River Forth. Only one of these islands, has had a resident population in recent years, although there have been monasteries, hermitages and fortifications on most of them in the past. In the late 19th century the Isle of May had a population of over 20. Many of the island names have the first element, "Inch-". Geologically, most of the islands are the remnants of igneous intrusions; the Isle of May's rock is "fine grained basalt of a dark-grey colour with tinges of green and greenstone". Fidra is largely basalt and The Bass is a phonolite volcanic plug. Craigleith is a laccolith made up of essexite, popular for making curling stones and Cramond island is made up of dolerite.
Inchmickery and Inchgarvie are of igneous origin and the latter is made up of picrite. Studies of the landscape beneath the waters of the firth have revealed that the visible surface of Inchgarvie is only the top of a larger crag and tail structure similar in structure to Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile created by glacial action; the tidal islet of Eyebroughy is about 1.5 kilometres to the west of Fidra. Its component rock is Lower Carboniferous in origin. Most of Inchkeith is of volcanic origin but there are sections of sandstone, coal and shale, the last named containing numerous fossils. There are several springs on the island. Inchcolm is varied, consisting of greenstone, sandstone and limestone; the Firth is an important area for nature conservation and has a range of habitats including extensive mudflats, shingle shorelines and saltmarsh. The last named, well developed on Alloa Inch, is dominated by saltmarsh rush, sea club-rush, sea aster and common saltmarsh-grass; the inner Firth is important for nationally and internationally important numbers of wintering wildfowl and wading birds and hosts populations of shelduck, redshank, great crested grebe and goldeneye.
The outer islands support significant numbers of nesting seabirds. The Bass Rock has more than 150,000 nesting northern gannets and is the largest single rock gannetry in the world; when viewed from the mainland much of the rock looks white due to the sheer number of birds. The scientific names for this gannet, Sula bassana and Morus bassanus, are derived from the rock; the bird was traditionally known locally as the solan goose, its eggs and meat were considered delicacies. It is estimated that in 1850 2000 birds were harvested from the rock. Other bird species on the rock include guillemot, cormorant, eider duck and numerous gulls. Craigleith lies close to North Berwick's harbour and was used as a rabbit warren; the rabbits were bred for food but they were wiped out by myxomatosis in the 1950s. The Atlantic puffin colony on Craigleith, once one of the largest in Britain with 28,000 pairs, became endangered from 1999 onwards, due to an invasion of the non-endemic plant tree mallow, which choked the puffins' burrows, preventing them from rearing their chicks, or "pufflings".
A five-year project, SOS Puffin, led by the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick, was launched early in 2007. Since hundreds of volunteers have been working hard to rid the island of the problem, ferried out by boat from the Seabird Centre during the winter months, when the puffins are at sea. There are signs. Fidra and Eyebroughy are RSPB reserves, the last being noted for its cormorants. Over 240 species of bird and 60 varieties of seaweed have been recorded on the Isle of May. Several of the islands contain pre-historic remains created by cultures, they have been affected by the successive influences of Celtic and English-speaking peoples during the historic period and this is reflected in their names. The islands came under attack from Vikings during the early Historic period. During the reign of King James IV Inchkeith was the site of an extraordinary experiment. According to the historian Robert Lyndsay of Pitscottie, in 1493 James directed that a dumb woman and two infants be transported to the islan