Oban is the capital of the ancient district of Lorne. Once labelled the "Charing Cross of the Highlands" because of the range of steamer connections with the islands and Argyll coast, Oban is still a busy port for ferries, cruise liners, fishing boats and pleasure craft.
The district may have taken its name from Loarn mac Eirc, a brother of Fergus Mór Mac Earca who, around the year 500 AD became ruler of the Scottish Kingdom of Dál Riata. Loarn created his own dynasty in the new kingdom, in the district of Argyll to which he gave his name.
From 1470, the Lordship of Lorne was held as a subsidiary title of the earldom and later the dukedom of Argyll. The coat of arms of the Lordship features a black galley on a silver field, which the Duke quarters with the family arms of Campbell.
At some point in the Middle Ages the district was combined with Argyll and parts of Lochaber to form the shire or sheriffdom of Argyll. The Medieval shire boundaries remained more or less unchanged until the passing of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 which abolished shires as a unit of local government, to be replaced by regions and districts, and later "council areas". Lorne is now part of the council area of Argyll and Bute, which was formed out of the pre-1974 shires of Bute and Argyll.
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