Island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland; area 120 sq km/46 sq mi. The chief town and resort is Rothesay; population (2001) 7,200. Bute lies 8 km/5 mi from the north Ayrshire coast and 10 km/6 mi from Arran. The coast is rocky, and in the interior are several small lochs, including Fad, Ascog, and Quien. The soil is light and contains gravel, but produces good crops, especially oats. Cattle and sheep are reared, and dairying is important. Soft red sandstone, slate, whinstone, and grey granite are found. Farming and tourism are the principal industries. The island is separated from the mainland in the north by a winding channel, the Kyles of Bute. With Arran and the Cumbraes it comprised the former county of Bute. In 1975 Bute merged into the district of Argyll and Bute in Strathclyde region, and is now part of the western Scottish Argyll and Bute unitary authority.
The island contains the foundations of St Ninian's Chapel dating from the 6th century and the remains of St Mary's Chapel, a medieval church. St Blane's Chapel, a ruined 12th century chapel was built on the site of a monastery founded by St Blane in the 8th century. Rothesay contains the ruins of a 13th-century castle of enclosure with 16th-century forework. Prior to the popularization of international travel in the 1970s, Rothesay was the most popular holiday venue for the people of Glasgow. Mount Stuart House, 6 km/4 mi south of Rothesay, dating from the late 19th century, is a seat of the Marquis of Bute. Prince Charles is the current title holder of the Duke of Rothesay.
Daily ferry services for vehicles and passengers operate between Rothesay and Wemyss Bay, and across the Kyles of Bute between Rhubodach and Colintraive. Seasonal car ferry services connect Rothesay and the Isle of Arran. Features of interest in Rothesay include the award-winning Victorian toilets at the Winter Gardens and the Victorian Fern House and Gardens, which contain a sunken Victorian fernery.