Ancient Monuments

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Finlaggan, settlement, burial ground and assembly site, Islay

A Scheduled Monument in Kintyre and the Islands, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 55.836 / 55°50'9"N

Longitude: -6.1729 / 6°10'22"W

OS Eastings: 138821

OS Northings: 668191

OS Grid: NR388681

Mapcode National: GBR CF49.3B6

Mapcode Global: WGZHT.4KSW

Entry Name: Finlaggan, settlement, burial ground and assembly site, Islay

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1963

Last Amended: 3 March 1999

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2325

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: tombstone; Ecclesiastical: chapel; Prehistoric domestic and defensive: du

Location: Killarow and Kilmeny

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Kintyre and the Islands

Traditional County: Argyllshire


This monument consists of the remains of the "centre" of the Lordship of the Isles. As such it served as a residence and inauguration site for the Lords of the Isles and as a meeting place for the Council of the Isles. It occupies two islands in Loch Finlaggan, Eilean Mor and Eilean na Comhairle (the Council Isle). There are also associated remains on the shore. Parts of the monument are already scheduled (under three different titles). This rescheduling extends and consolidates the protected area into a single scheduling.

This site differs from most medieval places of power in Western Scotland in that it is not strongly defended, relying for defence on its siting on islands and its location deep within the homelands of the Lords of the Isles. In terms of its function, Finlaggan appears to have had much in common with what might be thought of as a palace complex.

Recent excavations have greatly added to our knowledge about this unique site. Eilean na Comhairle shows at least three phases of activity with a dun being superseded by a stone castle which was then replaced by the structures of which the remains are still visible. These appear to be the remains of the buildings used for Council meetings. Eilean na Comhairle appears to have been connected to Eilean Mor by a causeway. Eilean Mor is the site of a far more complex settlement. Originally defended by a palisade the buildings on the island continued to develop throughout the middle ages. Along with a large number of ancillary buildings, both a hall and a great hall together with kitchens and a chapel have been identified. In addition there are fine Iona School grave slabs from the burial ground to the south of the chapel and a large area of rig and furrow.

On the shore there are numerous other remains which appear to be associated with the settlement, including two buildings roughly opposite the jetty on the north-west side of Eilean Mor, a second burial ground and an area of cultivation. Extensive spreads of midden material have been located below the water line around the two islands.

The area to be scheduled is defined to the east and south by a burn which runs down to the loch from the north-east and by a line 30m out from the edge of the islands. To the west the area is defined by the burn which discharges opposite Eilean na Comhairle and a line 10m beyond the centre line of the old track which runs down the west side of the loch. To the north the area is defined by a line 10m beyond the relict field boundary. The area, of which a substantial proportion consists of the bed of Loch Finlaggan, measures approximately 550m SW-NE by 220m and is marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland


No Bibliography entries for this designation

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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