Welcome to Luss
Luss is a designated Conservation Village at the eastern end of Glen Luss on the western shores of Loch Lomond, Britain’s largest inland waterway. This setting is famed for its natural beauty and as a haven for wildlife. The history of the area stretches back millennia evidenced by the remains of hilltop forts, Neolithic burial chambers and crannogs (artificial islands created as loch dwellings from around 5000 BC) that dot the landscape. Luss itself is a village of ancient origins with a history full of character.
Mist over Loch Lomond
At the dawn of the Christian Age Loch Lomond became an awe inspiring setting for the early missionaries who brought the religion of the book to Scotland. One of Loch Lomond’s earliest missionaries was St Kessog, son of the King of Munster, who arrived on the Loch’s shores around 510 AD. At this time Luss may have existed as a settlement for many hundreds of years. Setting up a church on Loch Lomond’s Inchtavannach, the ‘monk's island’ opposite Luss, St Kessog spent the next 20 years preaching to the locals until he was murdered by mercenaries, although we do not know in whose pay they were. The site of St Kessogs martyrdom was at Bandry, a stone’s throw south of Luss. Here a cairn was built to mark the spot. In the 18th century, when a road was being built, the cairn was destroyed and an effigy believed to depict the Saint was found inside. The effigy is held in Church of MacKessog in Luss, a village that the famed Saint would certainly have visited.
The earliest recorded name for the village is Clachan Dubh, the ‘dark village’. While the name may be associated with the dark act of murder which happened nearby, it is more probable it was the result of the settlement’s mountain setting which gives it up to two hours less sunlight in the evenings. When, in the 13th century, a band of Vikings, en route to the Battle of Largs, laid waste to the settlements of Loch Lomond the dark village had another reason to bear such an ominous name. However, in the following century the village would be renamed as a consequence of the village’s second great legend.
Baroness MacAuslin was born in Clachan Dubh in the early fourteenth century. Marrying a French soldier she left for France during the Hundred Years War against England. Alas, the Baroness died while her husband was fighting in the Siege of Tournay, in 1330. Her body was sent back to Clachan Dubh covered in flowers, in particular the Fleur de Lys. The flower took root and has grown there ever since. It was even given credit for warding off the plague when it came to Loch Lomond shortly afterwards. According to this legend the village came to be known by the miraculous flower she brought back; Fleur de Lys was shortened to Luss.
A large part of the development of today’s Luss owes much to the Colquhoun family, powerful local landowners based, since the early Middle Ages, at nearby Rossdhu Castle (rebuilt in the 18th century as Rossdhu House). In the 1800 they sponsored much of the development of Luss, largely to provide homes for those working in the nearby Slate Quarries. At this time the pretty little cottages which make Luss such an attractive village came into being. The attractive Luss Parish church, with its ancient and fascinating graveyard, was also built by the Colquhoun family, in 1875.
This attractive village, with its glorious setting, was bound to benefit greatly from the growth of tourism in the Loch Lomond area which has taken place during the last two centuries. Of course, tourism has also benefited from various film and television which have used Luss as a backdrop, most notably the long running soap opera Take the High Road. Perhaps the focal point for Luss as a tourist location is its long wooden pier. Stretching out into Loch Lomond, its tip affords some of the most spectacular views out across the Loch and over to Ben Lomond as well as back at the village from which it extends: one of Loch Lomond’s gems