Am Baile/Highland Libraries

Location: Islay

Finlaggan and the Lordship of the Isles

When Islay was the seat of the Lordship of the isles, its boundaries stretched from the Butt of Lewis to the Mull of Kintyre, eventually incorporating the Earldom of Ross which extended as far east as the Black Isle. The semi-independent maritime kingdom created by Somerled out of territories conquered from the Norse, the lordship endured for 400 years.

Loch Finlaggan was named after Saint Findluggan and with its two islands, it occupied the centre of the Lordship power. The larger island, which can nowadays be reached by a wooden causeway, is known as Eilean Mòr (the great island). The lordship’s Great Hall was situated there together with the buildings for the lord, his family and his retainers. The smaller island was Eilean na Comhairle (the Council Isle). It was the meeting place for the Council or Parliament of the Isles from which the Lordship was governed. It was also where the inauguration of the Lords of the Isles took place, placing their foot on a special stone which bore the imprint of a foot, signifying that they would walk in the footprint of their ancestors.

Archaeologists have now shown how the council building was actually built over an Iron Age fort as is explained at the Finlaggan Trust Centre, which looks after this important site, showing its continuity in time.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.