Cladich and its surrounding lands have been occupied since earliest times. Bronze age settlers (2000 to 600 BC) left tombs and mysterious 'cup-marked' rocks. Later, during the Iron Age, Celtic warrior tribes reached Argyll. Reckoning their wealth in cattle, as the African Matebele tribe do to this day, they built islands of stone and timber, known as crannogs, to protect their herds at night. The crannogs were connected by causeways to the shore and cattle, driven across to the mainland to graze by day, were herded back to safety at night. Good examples can be seen in Loch Awe, offshore from Cladich.
Cladich was held by succeeding chiefs of Clan Campbell, latterly Dukes of Argyll, from 1309 until 1775, when it was sold to Campbell of Monzie. It then passed by succession to the Fellowes family, from whom we purchased the estate in 2001. We are only the fourth family to own the estate since 1309.
In the seventeenth century Cladich (gaelic: 'at the shore') was surrounded by the populous farming townships of Barrandryan, Drumuirk and Keppochan. The peace of the place was not continuous and the inhabitants were often caught up in the battles of their clan superiors. Vengeance was wreaked after the rebellions of 1685, 1715 and 1745. In 1685 the parish was ravaged by Perthshire Athollmen, and according to an account of the time, the 'robberies and depradations included the seizure of cows, horses, furniture and oats.' The men of Cladich however learnt to defend themselves and the Militia List of 1803-04 records 29 'fencible men' in Cladich and the surrounding townships. Among them were shepherds, blacksmiths, labourers, a carpenter, a change keeper, a wright, a shoemaker, two tailors and six weavers
The weavers of Cladich, mostly McIntyres, were famous for their garters and hose. The 'Cladich Garter', distinctive in red and white, measuring a yard in length and finished with a knot was particularly prized by pipers. This was a flat woven product and not knitted as garters are today. The wool was woven at the mill at Cladich where the looms, the remains of which can still be seen, were driven by water.
Later, iron smelting and the demands of the local tanneries encouraged the local people to coppice oak and charcoal burning hearths abounded. Steamers on Loch Awe, as well as taking produce away, also brought the outside world to Cladich and there was a gradual depopulation as people were drawn to opportunities further afield. The 1851 census showed occupants as a post-boy, inn-keeper, scholars, dairymaids, a barmaid, a gamekeeper and an Australian sheep farmer who was staying at the inn at Cladich.
Cladich and the surrounding hamlets have had a long history of farming and rural industry. In its small way the Cladich Fold of Highland cattle continues this tradition on land that has been farmed and occupied for hundreds, probably thousands of years.