Scheduled Monument

Finlaggan, settlement, burial ground and assembly site, IslaySM2325

Status: Designated


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


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Crosses and carved stones: tombstone, Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard; chapel, Prehistoric domestic and defensive: dun, Secular: castle; settlement, including deserted and depopulated and townships
Local Authority
Argyll And Bute
Killarow And Kilmeny
NR 38821 68191
138821, 668191


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 Eilean na Comhairle shows at least three phases of activity with a dun being superseded by a stone castle which was then replaced by the structures of which the remains are still visible.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.



No Bibliography entries for this designation

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to Finlaggan, settlement, burial ground and assembly site, Islay

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 22/03/2019 18:19