Islands of the Clyde

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The Islands of the Firth of Clyde are the fifth of the major Scottish island groups after the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland. The islands are situated in the Firth of Clyde between Ayrshire and Argyll. There are about forty islands and skerries, of which only six are inhabited and only nine larger than 40 hectares (99 acres). The largest and most populous are Arran and Bute, and Great Cumbrae and Holy Isle are also served by dedicated ferry routes.[2][3]

The definition of an island used is that it is land that is surrounded by seawater on a daily basis, but not necessarily at all stages of the tide, excluding human devices such as bridges and causeways.[Note 1] Unlike the four larger Scottish archipelagos, none of the isles in this group are connected by bridges.

The geology and geomorphology of the area is complex and the islands and the surrounding sea lochs each have their own features.

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 then absorbed into the kingdom of Kenneth I of Scotland. They experienced Norse incursions during the early Middle Ages and were then absorbed into the Kingdom of Scotland in the 13th century.

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Geology and geography

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.[6] 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 widely in age.[7] 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.[8][9] 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.[10]

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