Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape


Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Local Authority
Arisaig And Moidart
NM 65477 73073
165477, 773073

The modest garden and pinetum surrounding the mid 19th century house are set in a spectacular island landscape, making this an important and unique site.

Type of Site

A 19th century house and garden, with a pinetum planted from 1855 onwards.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Mid 19th century; 1930s

Artistic Interest

Level of interest

The landscape design and elements of the island are of some value as a Work of Art.


Level of interest

The island was part of an important estate, associated with the Macdonalds and Castle Tioram. Together with the development of the pinetum by Swinburne and the work of Lorimer this gives the site some Historical value.


Level of interest

The pinetum collection is of outstanding Horticultural value.


Level of interest

Eilean Shona House and the associated estate and island buildings are of some Architectural interest.


Level of interest

There are archaeological sites giving the site some Archaeological value.


Level of interest

Eilean Shona is situated in the highly Scenic Moidart area, with lochside views to Castle Tioram.

Nature Conservation

Level of interest

The site contains a range of habitats including tidal waters, pasture, woodland and specimen trees. It has high Nature Conservation value.

Location and Setting

The island of Eilean Shona, 600ha in extent, is situated at the mouth of Loch Moidart, near Moidart's western tip. It is reached by a short boat ride from the mainland (Dorlin Pier 4km (2.5 miles) north of Acharacle) across sheltered waters, which can be crossed in most conditions. Views of the sea and smaller off-shore islands are an important aspect of the landscape character.

Eilean Shona House is situated adjacent to the island's only pier, in the south-east corner of the island, with spectacular views across South Channel to the ruins of Castle Tioram. From the tops of the island's hills are long-distance views to Rum, Eigg and Skye in the west and to Ben Nevis in the east.

The gardens of Eilean Shona House are c 2ha (5 acres). The boundaries are as those of the mid 19th century. Adjacent to the garden is the pinetum of around 4ha (10 acres), with commercial coniferous plantations beyond covering the eastern sector of the island.

Site History

Eilean Shona was until 1811 part of the Macdonald's of Clanranald lands which included Castle Tioram. Alexander Macdonald of Glenaladale bought Eilean Shona in 1811, and subsequently bequeathed it to Archibald Macdonald of Rhu who then sold it to Captain Swinburne in 1853.

By the mid 19th century, there was a late 18th/early 19th century house in the south-east corner of the island. Swinburne enlarged it, and he may have first established the garden with its spectacular views to Castle Tioram and the South Channel of Loch Moidart.

Swinburne certainly established the pinetum, which he planted with many newly-introduced conifers. Spencer Thompson bought the property in 1878. He extended the house during the 1880s and commissioned Sir Robert Lorimer to remodel some of the interiors in 1891.

Although the site has had five owners since 1898, there has been little landscape change. The most significant was the extension to the pinetum in the 1930s by Lord Howard de Walden.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Eilean Shona House dates from the mid 19th century with extensions of c 1880 (architect unknown) and some internal remodelling by Robert Lorimer of 1891. The south-facing two-storey house is harl pointed rubble with tooled ashlar dressings, with an irregular four-bay front and an off-centre gabled entrance. There are various outbuildings and estate cottages, including the Old Schoolhouse, Sawmill Cottage, Bothy Cottage and Shepherd's Cottage. There is also a modest aviary and contemporary greenhouse, and a stone-lined reservoir.

Drives & Approaches

From the pier a single track runs north to Eilean Shona House, and then onwards to Barramore on the island's north shore. A network of narrow footpaths leads uphill from Eilean Shona House, through coniferous plantations, to Beann a' Bhàillidh the high point of the island, from where there are panoramic views back across the South Channel.


A coniferous plantation approximately 400m wide clothes the eastern side of the island, formerly enclosed by a deer fence. Eilean Shona House and most of the cottages are situated within its south-east corner. The woodland roughly covers the same extent as it did in the mid 19th century (1873, OS 6").

The Gardens

The House's location, set on high ground above the gardens, has views over to the South Channel and Castle Tioram. The garden falls steeply southwards to the shoreline and is divided by a small burn. To the east are lawns set with ornamental specimen trees, including maples, Tulip trees, copper beech, Podocarpus and Wellingtonia. The area west of the burn is primarily a paddock.

North of Eilean Shona House is a small, fenced vegetable garden beside the main track crossing the island.


The pinetum was planted from 1855 onwards. Thomas W. Dalgleish compiled an Eilean Shona 'Pinetum Book' in 1933, which records additions to the collection since then. Exotic specimens in the collection include Abies cephalonica var. apollinis, Picea bicolour, Podocarpus totara, Tsuga dumosa.



Maps, Plans and Archives

1747-55 General Roy's Military Survey, 1747-1755

1873 survey, 1st edition OS 1:10560 (6"), published 1876

1899 survey, 2nd edition OS 1:10560 (6"), published 1901


Printed Sources

Eilean Shona, Acharacle, Argyll. Sales Particulars

Historic Scotland on Behalf of the Scottish Ministers, The List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest

Howard de Walden, M.Pages from my Life (1965) pp.266-274

Miers, M. The Western Seaboard: An illustrated architectural guide (2002)

Scottish Natural Heritage, Lochaber, landscape character assessment (1998)

Savage, P. Lorimer and the Edinburgh Craft Designers (1980) p.171

Tree Register of the British Isles (TROBI) Trees at Eilean Shona Survey (1989)

Wood, W. Moidart and Morar (1950)

Wordsworth and Wordsworth, J and J. 'Arean Township, Eilean Shona (Arisaig and Moidart Parish)'

Discovery and excavation, Scotland vol. 42 (1992)

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

The inventory is a list of Scotland's most important gardens and designed landscapes. We maintain the inventory under the terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We add sites of national importance to the inventory using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

The information in the inventory record gives an indication of the national importance of the site(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the site(s). The format of records has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries about development proposals, such as those requiring planning permission, on or around inventory sites should be made to the planning authority. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications of this type.

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Printed: 22/04/2024 01:43