Bute History and Archeology

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Bute Garden
July 14, 2017
Bute History and Archeology cover
Bute’s heritage is unsurpassed. Thousands of years of history await your arrival on Bute where people have lived for over 8,000 years. Standing stones, cists, Iron Age forts, grand mansions, a 13th century castle and memorabilia from Bute’s importance as a submarine base during WWII are all here to be discovered. Below is a list of some of the best places to go if exploring Bute’s history, although, there are many others.
Winter Garden

When arriving in Rothesay the Discovery Centre should perhaps be your first port of call. Stepping off the ferry, turning right and walking a short distance up Victoria Street you will be met with a grand cast iron and glass structure that build in 1924. This picturesque building now houses the Discovery Center, which is Bute’s tourist information point. Here you will find one of Scotland’s most innovative and exciting visitor center as well as a shop and 90 seat cinema showing the latest Hollywood blockbusters and also accommodating the Bute Film Club who screen art house cinema over the winter season on a Sunday night.

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Bute Museum

The museum is an independently run museum where visitors can explore the natural and historical heritage of the Isle of Bute. The History & Archaeology Gallery has displays covering aspects of Bute’s history from Mesolithic and Neolithic times through to the closing years of the 20th century. The Natural History Gallery allows visitors to explore the geology, plants, animals and birds of the island.  The Museum offers a chance to glimpse many of the treasures excavated from archaeological sites on Bute over the decades, and is a great source for leaflets and guides to the island. This wealth of sites is reflected in the Bute Museum collection, which is one of the finest in the country for a museum of its size.

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Rothesay Castle

Rothesay Castle is the closest piece of Bute’s heritage to the start of your journey. Just a short walk off the ferry and the unusual circular castle with links to Robert the Bruce will come into view. Rothesay Castle is remarkably well preserved. It dates back to the early 13th century where it was built as a fortification against the Norwegians. It went on to become a royal residence before falling into disrepair in the 17th century. Following on from the 2nd Marquess, the 3rd Marquess of Bute continued a series of restorations with his long-time architect, William Burges. The castle now stands proudly in the center of town and is open for visits all year round in the care of Historic Scotland. Highlights include the great hall and the moat where you can admire the outer stone curtain wall.

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Rothesay Victorian Toilet

Commissioned by Rothesay Harbour Trust in 1899 during Rothesay’s heyday as a holiday resort, the gents lavatory, a most unusual survivor of the Victorian era, was always intended to impress. The interior is magnificent with walls entirely clad in decorative ceramic tiles, ornately patterned in rows. The floors are designed with ceramic mosaic, with the crest of the Royal Burgh of Rothesay at the entrance. The complex is run on behalf of Argyll & Bute Council by Bute Victoriana Ltd., a Community Business with charitable status formed under the auspices of Bute Enterprises Ltd. Nowadays they are not only an important public facility, but are a major element among the facilities at the harbour attracting yachts people and other leisure sailors to Rothesay.

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Mount Stuart House

This is Britain’s most amazing Victorian gothic mansion. Home to the Stuarts of Bute, descendants of the Royal House of Stuart, this magnificent house sits proudly on the Isle of Bute, ancient stronghold of Scottish kings. The flamboyant house and its 300 acres of gardens reflect the artistic, religious and astrological interests of the 3rd Marquess of Bute. Although still a family home, they provide a spectacular private venue for luxury weddings, exclusive parties and corporate events. Mount Stuart is a shining example of the grand domestic architecture that came out of Britain’s 19th Century Gothic Revival. It stands, cathedral-like, as a monument to an obsession with the medieval past.

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St Blane’s Chapel

This lovely ruined church sits nestled in a valley at the southern end of the Isle of Bute and boasts views that stretch as far as the Isle of Arran and the Holy Isle. A trip to the south end leads to the remains of the monastery of St Blane. The monastery was originally founded in the 6th century and was possibly the forerunner to the better known monastery of St Columba of Iona. An enclosure wall surrounds the monastic site of St Blane’s, inside of which stands a 12th century chapel with a romanesque chancel arch. St Blane’s was the parish church of Kingarth for many centuries.

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