NR3868 : Finlaggan - Council Isle (Eilean na Comhairle)

taken 8 years ago, near to Ballygrant, Argyll And Bute, Great Britain

Finlaggan - Council Isle (Eilean na Comhairle)
Finlaggan - Council Isle (Eilean na Comhairle)
A view of the little circular "Council Isle" - Eilean na Comhairle in Gaelic - which lies a few dozen yards to the southwest of the main Eilean Mr of the Finlaggan complex. It is thought that this island was where the Lords of the Isles presided over council meetings to decide important matters. There is evidence of human occupation of this tiny island to at least as far back as the Iron Age, with the remains of a dun or perhaps a broch having been discovered. Later a small castle was built over the top of this ancient fort, and later still this was replaced by buildings which included the "council chamber". It is thought that this little island may at one time have been linked to the main island by a stone causeway.

The ancient historical site of Finlaggan lies towards the north of the isle of Islay, the remains of the buildings are clustered on a little islet called Eilean Mr ("Big island" despite its size) with a tiny circular islet, Eilean na Comhairle "council isle" a few dozen yards to its southwest - according to a sign board on the site "The Council Island, reached from here by a stone causeway, was the meeting place for the Council of the Isles. Recent excavations have revealed the ruins of an Iron Age stronghold - a dun or broch - on the island. And at a later date, perhaps in the C13th a castle was built over the ruins of this fort. The castle was dismantled and replaced by buildings occupied in the 1400s, one of which is thought to have been the Council Chamber."
A third island, Eilean Mhuireill lies much further away off the southern end of the eastern coast of the loch. It is a Crannog LinkExternal link and may have once been used by the Clan Donald as a prison island.
Eilean Mr is now linked to mainland Islay by a wooden causeway, but until recently access was only by small boat. Council isle remains detached, as does Eilean Mhuireill.
This group of islands in Loch Finlaggan was the clan headquarters of the Clan Donald, Lords of the Isles, and though the OS map labels the site as a "Castle" it is better thought of as an ancient palace.
Most of the ruined buildings now visible date from the 14th to 16th centuries, but the site dates back much further into antiquity, with its period of greatest importance being in the reign of John, First Lord of the Isles (1329-80), while its history stretches back to at least the Iron Age.
The main identified areas on Eilean Mr consist of:
The Great Hall
The Lord's Residence
C14th Chapel
Food Preparation Area
Cross Plinth in Burial Ground
C16th/17th Dwelling
C16th/17th Barn
There is a good overview of the site here LinkExternal link
The relevant Canmore pages (with details, photos etc.) are:
The Castle / Palace: LinkExternal link
Council Isle: LinkExternal link
Standing Stone: LinkExternal link
Eilean Mhuireill: LinkExternal link

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Rob Farrow and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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NR3868, 70 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Thursday, 10 April, 2014   (more nearby)
Tuesday, 13 May, 2014
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Lakes, Wetland, Bog  Islands 
Island (from Tags)
Place (from Tags)
Primary Subject of Photo
Ancient Site 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NR 3877 6801 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:50.0630N 6:10.4119W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NR 3880 6807
View Direction
South-southwest (about 202 degrees)
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Image classification(about): Geograph
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