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Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey

Cradled within Scotland’s west coast lies the historic region of Argyll.  The natural beauty of the area forms the backdrop to everything, from lush verdant forests to white sandy beaches and endless stretches of rugged coastal wilderness.

Argyll’s history runs deep, rich with stories and legends, and is notably marked by being the final resting place of 48 ancient Scottish monarchs. Let’s explore its fascinating past, tracing the origins of Argyll to its vibrant present.

The History of Argyll: A Land Shaped by Time

Argyll’s story begins in the mists of antiquity, with evidence suggesting it was one of Scotland’s most inhabited pre-historic locations. During the early medieval period, it would have been ruled by Dál Riata, a Gaelic kingdom that existed in western Scotland and northeastern Ireland.

The Dál Riata was inhabited by the Scotti, a Gaelic-speaking people who migrated from Ireland to Scotland and played a significant role in the region’s history, serving as a centre of Gaelic culture and influencing the development of early Scottish society.

In the 8th century, the Vikings launched invasions and settled in numerous areas of Argyll, shaping the region for centuries and earning it the moniker ‘Scandinavian Scotland’.

The strategic location on Scotland’s western seaboard made it a gateway for the Celts and Picts, who left their mark on the landscape with ancient forts, burial sites, and standing stones. Many regard Argyll as a profoundly spiritual place, exemplified by the presence of Iona Abbey.

Throughout the ages, the region evolved into a vibrant fusion of cultures and societies, influenced by migrations, invasions, and trade routes.

The 18th century saw significant development in Argyll, with coastal areas turning into thriving seaside resorts. The 19th and 20th centuries witnessed a surge in tourism, as individuals sought solace by the beach, especially during challenging economic periods.

Where in Scotland is Argyll and Bute?

Extending from the shores of Loch Lomond in the east to the islands of Mull, Islay, and Jura in the west, Argyll and Bute is home to vast mountains, lochs, and coastal plains. Its rugged terrain offers incredible outdoor adventures and exploration, much of which has been captured on film over the years.

The sweeping, dramatic landscapes have graced screens in various productions, from independent films to global blockbusters. Spot familiar sights, like the rolling hills featured in James Bond’s “From Russia with Love” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” as well as receiving nods in the Wings’ hit song, “Mull of Kintyre.”

Argyll Islands: Jewels of the West Coast

The islands scattered off Scotland’s west coast form an archipelago. From Mull to Islay and Jura, each island presents its own unique blend of rugged cliffs, sandy shores, and lush woodlands.

Rich in history and natural beauty, they’re home to ancient ruins, quaint villages, and abundant wildlife. Islay is famed for its whisky distilleries, and Mull enchants with its towering peaks, colourful houses, and boat access to the mystical Fingal’s Cave. Jura’s untamed wilderness beckons adventurers and Tiree is a haven for windsurfing enthusiasts.  With such diversity, there really is something for everyone to enjoy!

What clan is from Argyll Scotland?

Argyll is home to several prominent clans, each with its own storied history and traditions. Among the most notable is Clan Campbell, one of Scotland’s largest and most powerful clans. With ancestral lands stretching across the region and strongholds like Inveraray Castle, home to the Duke of Argyll – Chief of the Clan Campbell, who played a central role in shaping the history of Argyll.

Clan MacLachlan has notable ties to Argyll. The ruined 13-century Castle Lachlan lies on the eastern shore of Loch Fyne in Cowal. Mount Stuart, a neo-Gothic house on the Isle of Bute is the ancestral home to the Clan Stuart of Bute.

Dunollie Castle, overlooking Oban Bay is the seat and ancestral home of Clan MacDougall. For more than 1000 years, the Clan Chiefs and Lords of Lorn ruled large areas of Argyll and the Isles from Dunollie.

Duart Castle, the Clan MacLean ancestral home is located on the Isle of Mull. The castle dates back to the 13th century and is open to visitors. Explore the keep and dungeons and magnificent banqueting hall.

What does the name Argyll mean?

The name “Argyll” is derived from the Gaelic word “Earra-Ghàidheal,” which translates to “Coast of the Gaels.” It reflects the region’s Gaelic heritage and its historical importance as a stronghold of Gaelic culture and language.

Argyll’s Whisky Legacy

Argyll has long been associated with the production of Scotland’s finest whiskies, and no exploration of the region would be complete without delving into its whisky heritage.

Islay, known as the “Queen of the Hebrides,” is home to nine distilleries, and some of Scotland’s most famous peaty whiskies including Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg.

Meanwhile, Campbeltown, once known as the “whisky capital of the world,” offers a rich whisky-making tradition that dates back centuries, where craftsmanship and innovation come together to create liquid gold.

If whisky is your special interest or you’re curious to learn more, see our blog about the Whisky Trail in Argyll.

As we journey through the history of Argyll, we’re reminded of the region’s rich cultural heritage, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re drawn to its historic castles, idyllic islands, or world-renowned whisky distilleries, there is so much magic to discover on Scotland’s west coast.

Kickstart your exploration at the Kilmartin Museum and Standing Stones, just a short 20-minute drive from Loch Melfort hotel. Our location is an ideal base to start your intrepid journey into Argyll and the Isles! Find out more about our Special Offers.