Finlaggan in landscape

This evening, I am focusing on Finlaggan, an important historical site located in the north of the island of Islay, a few miles west of Port Askaig. Islay forms part of a group of islands known as the Inner Hebrides which lie off Scotland’s West Coast.

This particular area of Islay appears to have been important in prehistory as evidenced by a standing stone (Neolithic) and evidence of crannogs (Iron-Age) From the 12th to 16th centuries, Finlaggan was the power base of the chiefs of Clan MacDonald, Lords of the Isles who controlled vast tracts of the west of Scotland. The progenitor of the clan was Somerled who established a ruling dynasty following his defeat of the Norse in a sea battle during 1156. Clan Currie have a long association with Clan Donald.

Finlaggan Site

Eilean Mor is the largest island. Here archaeologists have found evidence of fortifications, a great hall, extensive living quarters, a chapel and paved roads. These features collectively suggest a wealthy and sophisticated population.

Finlaggan site with Paps of Jura in distance. 

Eilean Na Comhairle translates as ‘council island’. This was where the Lords of the Isles held meetings of the Council of the Isles. Here have been found massive walls suggestive of a medieval castle or 13th century hall-house which appears to have been occupied up until the 15th century. Before the medieval structure there may have existed a dun or broch (defensive iron-age buildings). A Stone Age axe found on the site indicates occupation dating back about 5000 years.

Medieval Graveslab at Finlaggan, Islay.

Video clip of Finlaggan site.

There is a visitor centre and the site is open to the public.

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