The cist at the centre of the Greadal Fhinn chambered cairn in Ormsaignmore
The cist at the centre of the Greadal Fhinn chambered cairn in Ormsaignmore

Ardnamurchan’s is a very ancient history. There is evidence that Mesolithic people moved in nomadic groups around its shores over 6,000 years ago, and Neolithic settlers built great cairns over burial chambers in the millennium that followed. Later, Bronze Age people raised standing stones and lived in roundhouses, to be followed by Iron Age people who, in an age of instability, built fortifications around Ardnamurchan’s shores. The Irish saints were here, St Finnan, St Columba and St Comghan, and they were followed by the Vikings, whose principal legacies were a magnificent boat burial at Swordle and local place names.

For three hundred years Ardnamurchan was the core lands of the Clan MacIain, a branch of the MacDonalds, the Lords of the Isles, until the MacIains were destroyed by the Campbells. Ardnamurchan was subsequently sold into private hands, and under the Riddells many of the small communities were cleared to make way for sheep farms. While most land remains in the hands of landlords, some continues to be worked as small-scale farms in the crofting tradition.

Prehistory

Picts, Gaels, Saints & Vikings

Clachans & Clans

MacIains & Mingary

The Campbells

The Landlords

Clearances & Crofts

The Last 150 Years