Highlands & Islands

Lord of the Isles' medieval home in Islay recreated

Finlaggan Image copyright University of St Andrews
Image caption Finlaggan in Islay was the powerbase for the Lord of the Isles

The lost medieval home of the Lords of the Isles has been reconstructed in virtual reality.

During the Middle Ages, the lords ruled the Inner and Outer Hebrides and parts of Scotland and Ulster.

Their administrative and ceremonial centre was Finlaggan on Loch Finlaggan in Islay in the Inner Hebrides.

Experts at the University of St Andrews, working with the Finlaggan Trust and the National Museum of Scotland, have recreated the property.

Archaeological finds made at Finlaggan helped to guide the reconstruction.

Image copyright University of St Andrews
Image caption The virtually reconstructed hall and lords' quarters

It represents Finlaggan, a complex of buildings constructed on two small islands connected by a causeway, in the early 15th Century.

During that century, the lordship, which was traditionally held by the MacDonald family, faced efforts by Scottish kings to curtail its influence.

In the 1490s James IV sent a military expedition to sack Finlaggan. Many of the buildings were destroyed at this time.

The University of St Andrews said the site later "sank into relative obscurity".

Image copyright University of St Andrews
Image caption Finlaggan's islands were connected by a causeway

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."

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 north east of Scotland."

The reconstruction will be available as an interactive virtual reality experience at the Finlaggan Trust's visitor centre on Islay. A virtual reality app and an online video have also been created.