May 16, 2024

Something About Eigg

As I begin to sort through and edit the photos from my recent trip to Scotland I am drawn to the Isle of Eigg in the Inner Hebrides.  It is south of the Isle of Skye and north of the Ardnamurchan peninsula, both areas figuring prominently in the territory of the Lords of the Isles.  It sits close to the Isle of Rum but there are few similarities between these two.  The island has been inhabited for thousands of years and was formed from basalt lava flows and intrusions all which took place around 60 million years ago. Its most recognizable feature is An Sgurr (sgurr – conical hill) a huge sugarloaf crag which dominates the island. It has the distinction of being the largest residual mass of columnar pitchstone lava in Britain.  The area around the Bay of Laig will hold one spellbound with it’s stark beauty and rich colors.

St. Donan set up a sizable monastery on Eigg but was murdered together with 52 of his monks in 617 according to the Irish annals.  The island, like most of the others, was part of the Norse empire but was seized by the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles.  Robert the Bruce granted official title to Macdonald of Clanranald in 1309.  Some sources report that the staff of the Lordship of Clanranald was presented to one who was nominated Macdonnall and Donald of Islay at Kildonan. While Finlaggan on Islay was the headquarters for the Lords of the Isles it’s possible that the earliest recorded meeting of island chiefs took place on Eigg.