Ailsa Craig and Bass Rock

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"As you will see looking around my exhibition, a fixation I have for Ailsa Craig (off the West coast) and Bass Rock (off the East coast). 

 

These ancient volcanic islands rise like great puddings from the sea and stop me in my tracks every time I set eyes on them!

They are so iconic and make the ideal focal point in a painting"

Gordon Wilson

Ailsa Craig

 

Ailsa Craig is a now uninhabited island, 10 miles west of mainland Scotland in the outer Firth of Clyde, formed from the volcanic plug of an extinct volcano.   Covering an area of 240 acres, Alisa Craig is 2.5 miles in circumference and rises to a height of 1,120 ft.

 

The granite on Ailsa Craig has an unusual crystalline composition that has a distinctive appearance but a uniform hardness which has made the island's rock a favourite material for curling stones.

Bass Rock - Did you know?

Ailsa, Haze and Haar Oil 51x51cm  81x81c

The island, colloquially known as 'Paddy's milestone',was a haven for Catholics during the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century but is today a bird sanctuary, providing a home for huge numbers of gannets and an increasing number of puffins.  

 

The only surviving buildings on the island are the lighthouse on its east coast facing the Scottish mainland, a ruined towerhouse, that was built by Clan Hamilton to protect the area from Philip II of Spain in the 16th century and the old quarry manager's house that is used by the RSPB.

The Bass Rock

The Bass Rock, is an uninhabited island in the outer part of the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland.

 

Approximately 1 mile offshore, and 3 miles north-east of North Berwick, it is a steep-sided volcanic rock, 351 feet at its highest point. There are related volcanic formations within nearby Edinburgh, namely Arthur's SeatCalton Hill and Castle Rock.

Currently home to approximately 150,000 northern gannets, the world's largest colony of the species, historically the Bass Rock has been settled by an early Christian hermit and later was the site of an important castle, which after the Commonwealth period was used as a prison.

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Sunbathed Bass Rock Oil 22x25cm  67x77cm

 

The Bass Rock Lighthouse was constructed on the rock in 1902, and the remains of an ancient chapel survive.

The Bass Rock features in many works of fiction, including Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Catriona.'

The soil is fertile and supports a wide variety of plants, including the Bass mallow which is otherwise only found on a few other islands, including Ailsa Craig.

'It was an unco place by night, unco by day; and there were unco sounds; of the calling of the solans [gannets], and the plash [splash] of the sea, and the rock echoes that hung continually in our ears. It was chiefly so in moderate weather.  When the waves were anyway great they roared about the rock like thunder and the drums of armies, dreadful, but merry to hear, and it was in the calm days when a man could daunt himself with listening; so many still, hollow noises haunted and reverberated in the porches of the rock.'

Robert Louis Stevenson

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