Cattle trade on Mull

The cattle trade on Mull existed as early as the 16th century.

The records of Mary, Queen of Scots' Council included complaints from the people of Argyll about the theft of their cattle. They believed the thieves sold their cattle in the Lowland markets.

CnocnamDubhLeitre cattle trade


There was plenty of rich grassland on Mull and its neighbouring islands, Coll and Tiree. While most farmers needed cattle to provide milk and meat for themselves, they could also keep extra cattle to sell.


By the time of the Mull fairs in the 18th century, the transport of cattle from the Highlands south to the Lowlands and England was a thriving business. The cattle were transported by boat and foot. This was called droving and the men who did it were called drovers.

The fairground at Cnoc nam Dubh Leitre is one of the places where drovers came to buy cattle.

From here, local tradition tells us that they shipped the cattle from Grass Point, at the mouth of Loch Don, to the Bay of Barr nam Boc on the small island of Kerrera.

The drovers then made the cattle swim across the narrow channel of water to the mainland and Oban. This was only the start of their long journey south.