History & Heritage

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Islay has rich heritage reaching back as far as 12,000 years. Whether you are a history buff, or simply intrigued by the mysteries of the past, there is much for you to explore and discover during your stay at the Machrie Hotel on Islay.

Museum of Islay Life and more…

The Museum of Islay Life/Taigh-Tasgaidh Muinntir Ìle

The museum is located in the village of Port Charlotte in the former Kilchoman Free Church. It opened in 1977 and holds a fascinating collection representing life in Islay over the past 12,000 years. The Gordon Booth library is also available for research on request, and holds a collection of books and papers relating to Islay. The museum is open seasonally from April until October. Group visits out with these times can be requested and we will accommodate where possible.

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Kilnave Chapel and Cross

Kilnave Cross and ruined chapel are located on the Ardnave road on the west side of Loch Guinart, a mile up the road from the RSPB nature reserve. The chapel played an important role in the Battle of Gruinart in 1598 between the MacDonalds of Islay and the MacLeans on Mull. The graveyard has a beautiful cross and offers stunning views over the loch.

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American Monument on the Oa peninsula

The American Monument High on the Oa at Upper Killeyan and overlooking the sea in which 266 Americans died when the HMS Tuscania was torpedoed on February 5 1918. The monument is shaped like a lighthouse and was built by the Government of The United States on the 400ft cliffs, seven miles from where the ship went down.

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Kilchoman Cross and Military Cemetery

Kilchoman Cross is a very detailed high cross which dates back to the 1300s. It can be found in the graveyard of the now ruined Kilchoman Church. Half a mile from the church to the west is the Kilchoman Military Cemetery with graves of soldiers who died in the Otranto tragedy.

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Kildalton Cross

The Kildalton Cross is a monolithic high cross in Celtic cross form in the churchyard of the former parish church of Kildalton, “Church of the Foster Son”. 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. The cross and the adjacent roofless medieval parish church are in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.

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‘Round Church’

Kilarrow Church is a Church of Scotland parish church, overlooking Bowmore. The “Round Church”, as it is often known, was built in 1767. It has a highly unusual circular design, copied by some churches built in the 1960s. It has been suggested that the circular design was intended to ensure that there were no corners in which the devil could hide.

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Islay Woollen Mill

The Islay Woollen Mill was founded in 1883. The family business produces fine woven Tweeds for shooting estates, Savile Row and other international tailors and the film industry. If you’ve watched Braveheart, Forrest Gump, Rob Roy or various other blockbusters you’ll have seen designs made in the back rooms of the Mill.

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Finlaggan is a historic site to the north of the island and was the seat of the Lords of the Isles and of Clan Donald during the 13th – 15th centuries In 1493 the lordship of the Isles fell to James IV of Scotland, who administered the territory via a tenant-in-chief. The Finlaggan Trust maintains the site and also refurbished a derelict cottage that has been converted into a comprehensive museum.

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