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Colonsay and Oransay

ColonsayColonsay (St Columba's isle) & Oronsay (St Oran's isle, a disciple of St Columba, or 'tidal island'). Colonsay is just over eight miles from north to south, with a maximum width of three miles. Oronsay lies immediately to the south of Colonsay is three miles long and two miles wide, and joined to Colonsay by a tidal causeway.

 

 

The islands are rich in archaeological and historical remains, from the standing stones known as Fingal's Limpet Hammers to the burial cairns at Scalasaig and Milbuie. Dun Eibhinn is an Iron Age fort which was occupied by the MacDuffies in medieval times, as was a stronghold on Loch an Sgoltaire. There are several interesting carved stones on the islands, and Viking burials have been discovered here.

St Oran and St Columba are said to have stopped here on their way to finally settling on Iona: there is a well called Tobar Oran at Colonsay House. The island passed from the MacDuffies to the MacDonalds in the 17th century, then to the Campbell Duke of Argyll, then to the MacNeils in 1701. They removed to Colonsay House, built in 1722 and enlarged in the 19th century, which has fine gardens.

Oronsay has Mesolithic shell mounds, dating from before 4000 BC. Dun Domhnuill is a fine Iron Age fort. The island is also the site of a ruinous Augustinian priory, of which substantial remains survive. It was founded by the Lords of the isles, and produced carved grave slabs and stone crosses until 1500. The fine Oronsay Cross survives, a late medieval cross which is 12-feet high, as do the remains of another cross and about 30 carved grave slabs.

 

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