Incredible reconstruction brings 15th-Century medieval home of the ‘Lord of the Isles’ back to life 


Incredible reconstruction brings the 15th-Century medieval home of the ‘Lord of the Isles’ back to life

  • Lords of the Isles is a title of Scottish nobility that precedes Kingdom of Scotland
  • Researchers say many locals do not know about the Lordship and how they lived
  • They’ll now get a chance to learn after University of St. Andrews staff ‘re-built’ it

The lost home of the Lord of the Isles has been virtually reconstructed by historians.  

The medieval site, which was located on the Isle of Islay in the Inner Hebrides, would’ve functioned as the primary base for the rulers, who – long before the first King of Scotland – governed parts of the Celtic country, plus Ulster and the Hebrides. 

The new, digitally-constructed vision, designed by staff at the University of St.Andrew, gives people a glimpse into how the lords lived in the fifteenth century.

Specifically, it represents Finlaggan – their small fortress constructed on two islands and connected by a causeway – at a time when it was the administrative and ceremonial centre.  

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As it were: The lost medieval property, located on the Isle of Islay, Inner Hebrides, has been virtually rebuilt by engineers at the University of St. Andrews

As it were: The lost medieval property, located on the Isle of Islay, Inner Hebrides, has been virtually rebuilt by engineers at the University of St. Andrews

WHAT IS THE LORD OF THE ISLES? 

During the Middle Ages, the Lords of the Isles ruled the Hebrides and parts of mainland Scotland and Ulster.

Traditionally the Lordship was held by the MacDonald family but following disputes in the fifteenth century, the Scottish kings sought to curtail the MacDonalds’ influence.

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And in the 1490s James IV sent a military expedition to sack Finlaggan.

Many of the buildings at Finlaggan were destroyed at this time, and over the centuries that followed the site sank into relative obscurity. 

The team behind the project says it shows the ‘relative comfort’ in which the Lords – John of Islay I, Domhnall of Islay, Alexander of Islay, Alexander of Islay, John of Islay II and Angus Óg – lived throughout their reign.  

In fact, it encapsulates its glory days – when Lords enjoyed music, imported wine and board games, historians say.

Archaeological discoveries made at Finlaggan in recent years helped to steer the reconstruction. 

In collaboration with the Finlaggan Trust, the reconstruction is based on discoveries made by the Finlaggan Archaeological Project, led by archaeologist Dr David Caldwell. 

Dr Bess Rhodes said: ‘Finlaggan was an amazing place to recreate digitally. 

‘Even today the islands of Eilean Mor and Eilean na Comhairle are beautiful places, and in the Middle Ages they were the site of a remarkable complex of buildings which blended local traditions with wider European trends.

The team behind the project says it shows the 'relative comfort' in which the Lords and their followers lived - when they enjoyed music, imported wine and board games, historians say

The team behind the project says it shows the ‘relative comfort’ in which the Lords and their followers lived – when they enjoyed music, imported wine and board games, historians say

Accurate: In collaboration with the Finlaggan Trust, the reconstruction is based on discoveries made by the Finlaggan Archaeological Project, led by archaeologist Dr David Caldwell

Accurate: In collaboration with the Finlaggan Trust, the reconstruction is based on discoveries made by the Finlaggan Archaeological Project, led by archaeologist Dr David Caldwell

‘The work by Dr David Caldwell and the Finlaggan Archaeological Project has transformed our understanding of this site – giving us a glimpse of the relative comfort in which the Lords of the Isles and their followers lived, pampering their dogs with decorative collars, and enjoying music, imported wine and board games.’

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Dr Ray Lafferty, Secretary of the Finlaggan Trust, said: ‘Despite its impact on the shaping of Scottish culture, Finlaggan and the Lordship remains little known to many.

‘With this virtual reality reconstruction, we hope to give some sense of the site at the zenith of its power, when MacDonald rule stretched from the Glens of Antrim in Ireland to Buchan in the northeast of Scotland.’

 



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