Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Islay is an island located off the west coast of Scotland, as the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides archipelago, and is situated in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Arthur is credited by Geoffrey with conquering Iceland, but N.L. Goodrich and P.F.J. Turner feel Islay was the true site of his conquest.

Islay | 0 to the 9th century AD

Prehistoric Period
Islay has evidence of human occupation dating back to prehistoric times. Archaeological sites on the island include ancient burial cairns, standing stones, and remnants of early settlements. These indicate that people have lived on Islay for thousands of years.

Celtic and Roman Influence
Islay, like much of Scotland and the surrounding islands, was inhabited by Celtic peoples during this period. These Celtic tribes lived in small communities and engaged in agriculture, fishing, and trade with neighboring regions.

While the Romans had a presence in southern Britain (England) during the Roman period, there is limited evidence of direct Roman influence on Islay itself. Roman artifacts and coins have been found in various parts of Scotland, suggesting some level of interaction.

Early Christian Period
By the early Christian period, Islay became part of the broader monastic network that characterized early medieval Scotland, with Christian missionaries reaching the island in the sixth and seventh centuries. Monastic communities, often associated with Celtic Christianity (Celtic Church), established themselves on the island. Ancient crosses and religious sites, such as the Kildalton Cross, are remnants of this period.

Viking Age | 8th – 11th centuries
The Viking Age, roughly from the late eighth to eleventh centuries, saw Norse influence and settlement in various parts of Scotland, including the Hebrides. The Vikings, known for their seafaring prowess, targeted coastal communities in search of riches and resources. While there is evidence of Norse presence on nearby islands, Islay’s specific history during this period is not as well-documented. The Norse influence likely left an impact on local culture and place names.

Kingdom of the Isles
By the late medieval period, the Lords of the Isles, a Norse-Gaelic dynasty, held sway over the Hebrides, including Islay. The MacDonalds, as the Lords of the Isles, played a significant role in the island’s history, establishing Finlaggan as their political center. The MacDougalls also held influence.

Medieval Clans and Conflicts
Islay, like other parts of the Hebrides, experienced the complex interplay of medieval Scottish clans and their rivalries. The island was not immune to conflicts and power struggles that characterized medieval Scottish history.

Influence of the Church
The Christian Church continued to play a central role in Islay’s history. Monastic sites and later medieval churches reflect the religious and cultural importance of Christianity on the island.

Islay is pronounced “eye-luh.”