Kilslevan deserted village

The remains of deserted houses and settlements are common throughout the whole of Scotland, Islay is no exception.

Kilslevan seems to have once been a township of at least eight longhouses, and several other buildings, enclosures and two corn-drying kilns although these are hard to discern under the grass and moss1Canmore.org.uk. (2022). Islay, Kilslevan | Canmore. [online] Available at: https://canmore.org.uk/site/38117/islay-kilslevan [Accessed 17 May 2022].. There are the ruins of a rudimentary chapel nearby2Canmore.org.uk. (2022). Islay, Kilslevan | Canmore. [online] Available at: https://canmore.org.uk/site/38122/islay-kilslevan [Accessed 17 May 2022].. Close by too, is an old lead mine, although it is not clear if this was related to the village3Canmore.org.uk. (2022). Islay, Carnbeg Mine | Canmore. [online] Available at: https://canmore.org.uk/site/79772/islay-carnbeg-mine [Accessed 17 May 2022].

Its Gaelic name is Cill Sléibleainn meaning St. Slevan’s Church4Google Books. (2013). Place-names of Scotland. [online] Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=bNr8DwAAQBAJ&pg=PT179&lpg=PT179&dq=kilslevan&source=bl&ots=CN584kxTPP&sig=ACfU3U2asBVIjHAxJA6kzYSu67BFOZ7T6Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjCte-tkuf3AhWKT8AKHQIRDew4MhDoAXoECAIQAw#v=onepage&q=kilslevan&f=false [Accessed 17 May 2022]..

The village was abandoned in the later half of 19th century. One local source refers to a claim that it was “a plague village”5Queen of the Hebrides. (2016). Kilslevan – The Abandoned Village. [online] Available at: https://queenofthehebrides.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/kilslevan-the-abandoned-settlement/ [Accessed 17 May 2022].. Perhaps not ‘the’ plague but an epidemic of some sort may well have reduced the population for it to become unsustainable

We are fortunate that the 1836 Islay Tenants Rental List has been transcribed and made available online6Rootsweb.com. (2022). 1836 Islay Tenants Rental List. [online] Available at: http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~steve/islay/rawdata/1836.htm [Accessed 17 May 2022]. Under Kilslevan, seven tenants are listed :—

      • Ronald McDougall
      • Alexander Campbell
      • Archibald Currie (Black)
      • Archibald Currie (fair)
      • Archibald McDougall
      • Alexander Currie
      • Hugh Currie

Another source gives the population as 67 in the 1841 census, and 55 in the 18517Autoren der Wikimedia-Projekte (2012). Kilslevan. [online] Translate.goog. Available at: https://de-m-wikipedia-org.translate.goog/wiki/Kilslevan?_x_tr_sl=de&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=sc#cite_ref-1 [Accessed 17 May 2022].. There must have been big multi-generational families in those days. Abandonment must have taken place sometime in the following decades.

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