Ten things you (probably) didn't know about...
If you have been on one of our shorter adventures based around the head of Loch Sunart, then you may well already know some of these stories/facts about Strontian already. If you haven't yet joined us, then there is loads more still to discover about our small village nested amongst the hills of Morvern and Sunart.
- There used to be a hat factory in the village! That’s right, they made hats for the miners to wear in the lead mines, but it was not really a factory as it was in one of the larger houses. Women and children were employed to plait two hats of different sizes out of straw and fill the gap between them with clay that was then baked in the sun.
- One of the bigger hotels burned down on Hogmanay 1998. Standing next door to the current Strontian Hotel was the Loch Sunart Hotel - you can still see the steps up from the front carriage area up to where the hotel stood. This is a private garden, so please observe from outside the fence.
- The Ariundle Oakwoods is one of only 10 core sites where the Chequered skipper butterfly resides. At one point it was thought that this was the ONLY place they lived after dying out in England. Head into the woods in late May into June for the best chance of seeing one.
- Lead was discovered above Strontian in 1722 and was mined on and off across five sites from 1725 until the 1870s when lead prices crashed globally. During their hay day in the 1730’s it is said that ‘over a thousand men worked the mines’.
- As well as lead, silver and zinc were also extracted from the mines and a rare, new carbonate mineral was discovered there. This was given the name ‘Strontianite’, after the village.
- Strontian sits at the head of Loch Sunart, a tidal loch. At 18 miles long it is the longest sea loch in the Highland region. It has also been previously identified as one of the otter ‘hotspots’ in Scotland.
- Strontian’s Gaelic name is Sròn an t-Sìthein. This translates as ‘the nose (or point) of the fairy. It is said that the fairies ('sidhe' - pronounced 'she') live under the ‘knoll’ in an invisible world that coexists with humans. The walk up Tom an t-Sithein to look for them is a wonderful family adventure.
- Until 1975, Strontian was in Argyllshire. Following a local government reorganisation that year, the county of Argyll ceased to exist and Strontian was amalgamated with the Highland Council region.
- Strontian had the first floating church in the UK that was moored in Ardnastang bay west of the village. It was towed up the West Coast from a shipyard on the Clyde arriving in 1846. Strontian also has one of the ‘Telford Churches’ designed by Thomas Telford for the Highlands and Islands.
- And finally, Strontian is the only village (not place) in the world to have had an element named after it. A new metal element, later named Strontium, was extracted from the Strontianite in 1808. Look out for the road sign as you enter the village.