Panoramic photograph of the Finlaggan site in spring
The Centre of the Lordship of the Isles

A few miles to the south-west of Port Askaig on the island of Islay lies Loch Finlaggan, a place of great importance in Scottish history, In the loch are three islands, two of which lie close to the north shore. These are Eilean Mor (large island) and Eilean na Comhairle (council isle) which contain fragmentary remains of buildings. Here the installation of the Lords of the Isles took place. The Macdonald Lords of the Isles were descended from Somerled, a 12th century prince, and these lords, the chiefs of Clan Donald, chose Finlaggan as their home and the centre of their lordship, so that Islay is often referred to as the Cradle of Clan Donald.

The Lords of the Isles ruled the islands and part of the west coast of Scotland, from Kintyre to Lewis, virtually independent of royal control. The heir to a strong Gaelic and Norse tradition, the Lord of the Isles -ill Innse Gall -was one of the most powerful figures in the country with the small islands in Loch Finlaggan a centre of symbolic and administrative importance.

Once confirmed in his island Lordship, the Lord of the Isles, in company with his privy councillors, would retire to the neighbouring Eilean na Comhairle to discuss the great questions concerning the government of the Lordship. Here he issued land charters, of which two survive to the present day, and delivered his judgement on legal matters.