Top Historic Sights in Islay, United Kingdom

Explore the historic highlights of Islay

Bowmore Distillery

Bowmore distillery produces scotch whisky on the isle of Islay. It was established in 1779 by a local merchant, John P. Simpson, before passing into the ownership of the Mutter family, a family of German descent. James Mutter, head of the family, also had farming interests and was Vice Consul representing the Ottoman Empire, Portugal, and Brazil through their Glasgow consulates. There are no records that pinpoint the date ...
Founded: 1779 | Location: Islay, United Kingdom

Ardbeg Distillery

The Ardbeg distillery has been producing whisky since 1798, and began commercial production in 1815. Like most Scottish distilleries, for most of its history, its whisky was produced for use in blended whisky, rather than as a single malt. Production was halted in 1981, but resumed on a limited basis in 1989 and continued at a low level through late 1996. The distillery was bought and reopened by Glenmorangie plc (owned b ...
Founded: 1815 | Location: Islay, United Kingdom

Bruichladdich Distillery

Bruichladdich Distillery produces mainly single malt Scotch whisky, but has also offered artisanal gin. It is owned by Rémy Cointreau and is one of eight working distilleries on the island. Bruichladdich was built in 1881 by the Harvey brothers on the shore of Loch Indaal. The Harveys were a dynastic whisky family that had owned two Glasgow distilleries since 1770. Using an inheritance, the three brothers combined ...
Founded: 1881 | Location: Islay, United Kingdom

Bunnahabhain Distillery

The Bunnahabhain Distillery was founded in 1881 near Port Askaig on Islay. The village of Bunnahabhain was founded to house its workers. The Bunnahabhain is one of the milder single malt Islay whiskies available and its taste varies greatly from other spirits to be found on the island of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland.
Founded: 1881 | Location: Islay, United Kingdom

Kildalton Cross

The Kildalton Cross is a monolithic high cross in Celtic cross form in the churchyard of the former parish church of Kildalton. It was carved probably in the second half of the 8th century AD, and is closely related to crosses of similar date on Iona. It is often considered the finest surviving Celtic cross in Scotland, and is certainly one of the most perfect monuments of its date to survive on western Europe. A simpler ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Islay, United Kingdom

Finlaggan

Finlaggan is a historic site on Eilean Mòr in Loch Finlaggan. Loch, island, and Finlaggan Castle lie around two km to the northwest of Ballygrant on Islay. Finlaggan was the seat of the Lords of the Isles and of Clan Donald. Two of the three islands that lie in the expansive scenery surrounding Loch Finlaggan, Eilean Mor and Eilean na Comhairle, were the administrative centre of the Lordship of the Isles during the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Islay, United Kingdom

Dunyvaig Castle Ruins

Dunyvaig Castle was built on top of an ancient fort or dun in the 12th century. Forfeited in 1493, the castle passed to the MacIans of Ardnamurchan. Afterwards the castle was leased to the MacDonalds, then the Campbells and back to the MacDonalds. In the 17th century Dunyvaig was conquered several times by the English and Scottish armies. The castle was seized in 1647 by the Covenanters and passed into the hands of the C ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Islay, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar is one of Scotland’s most perfectly preserved castles. It began as a simple tower-house residence. Gradually, over time, it developed into a complex of structures and spaces, as subsequent owners attempted to improve its comfort and amenity. As a result, there are many nooks and crannies to explore.

The surrounding gardens and parkland were also important. The present-day Craigmillar Castle Park has fascinating reminders of the castle’s days as a rural retreat on the edge of Scotland’s capital city.

At the core lies the original, late-14th-century tower house, among the first of this form of castle built in Scotland. It stands 17m high to the battlements, has walls almost 3m thick, and holds a warren of rooms, including a fine great hall on the first floor.

‘Queen Mary’s Room’, also on the first floor, is where Mary is said to have slept when staying at Craigmillar. However, it is more likely she occupied a multi-roomed apartment elsewhere in the courtyard, probably in the east range.

Sir Simon Preston was a loyal supporter of Queen Mary, whom she appointed as Provost of Edinburgh. In this capacity, he was her host for her first night as a prisoner, at his townhouse in the High Street, on 15 June 1567. She was taken to Lochleven Castle the following day.

The west range was rebuilt after 1660 as a family residence for the Gilmour family.

The 15th-century courtyard wall is well preserved, complete with gunholes shaped like inverted keyholes. Ancillary buildings lie within it, including a private family chapel.