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A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland

The following is from A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland by Sir Donald Monro:

Mull & Surrounding Islands

Island Index by Location - Alphabetic

Ornansay (Oronsay), Ellan Namuche & Colnansay (Colonsay)

North from Ilay layes ane iyle callit Ornansay, it is twa myle lange, and neire alls meikell in breidth, quherin ther is ane monastery of chanons, mayne laiche land, full of hairs and foulmarts, with convenient havens for Heyland galleys, and shald at the shores. It lays eight miles of sea north from Ila.

Beside this iyle Ornansay layes ane uther ile lesse than it, callit by the Irische Ellan Namuche, half ane myle lang, which is guid for swyne and alse uther bestiall.

Northward from the isle of Ornansay, be ane half myle of sea, lyes ane ile, callit Colnansay, seven myle lange from the northeist to the southwest, with twa myle bredthe, ane fertile ile guid for quhit fishing. It hath ane paroch kirke. This ile is bruikit be ane gentle capitane, callit M’Duffyhe, and pertened of auld to Clandonald of Kyntyre.


Twelfe myle northward from the iyle of Colnansay lyes the iyle of Mull, ane grate rough ile, noch the les it is fertile and fruitful. This ile contains in lenth from the northeist to the southweste twenty-four myles, and in breid from the eist southeist to west northwest uther twenty-four myles, with certain woodes, maney deire, and verey fair hunting games, with many grate mertines and cunnings for hunting, with a guid raid fornent Colmkill, callit Pollaisse. There is sevin paroche kirks within this iyle, and thre castles, to wit the castle of Doward, a strenthey place, bigged on a craige at the sea syde; the castle of Lochbowy, pertaining to M’Gillayne of Lochbowy; the castle of Arose, quhilk in former time pertinet to the Lord of the iyles, and now is bruked be M’Gillayne of Doward. In this ile there is twa guid fresche waters, ane of them are callit Ananva, and the water of Glenforsay, full of salmond, with uther waters that has salmond in them, but not in sic aboundance as the twa forsaid waters. This ile hath alsa salt water loches, to wit, Loch Ear, ane little small loche, with guid take of herringes: this loche layes in the southwest of the countrey. Then is Loch Fyne, quherin ther is a guid take of herrings. Northwest fra this loche, lyes Loch Seaforte, guid for the herring fishing. Lykwayes on the east pairt of the countrey layes ane loche, callit Lchepetit. Narrest this loche, in the southe southeist, layes Lochbowy, a fair braid loche, quherin there is grate take of herring and uther fishings. As als within this ile ther is twa freshe water loches; the ane is callit Loche Strathsenaban, with an ile in it, callit by the Erische Ellan Strathsenaban; the uther fresche water loche is callit Lochebaa, with an iyle therein. Thir iyles are baith strenthe and inhabit. This iyle pertains pairtly to M’Gillayne of Doward, pairtly to M’Gillayne of Lochbowy, pairtly to M’Kynnoun, and pairtly to the Clandonald of awld. This iyland layes but four myle from the firme land of Moriwarne.

The Dow Iyle & Erray

At the southwest shore of the ile of Mull, lyes ane little ile, by the Erische namit Ellan-chane, that is the Dow illyand, inhabit, half a myle lange, fruitfull for corne and gressing, with ane havin for Heighland bottis.

Northwest from this ile layes ane ile, namit by the Erische Ellan Erray, ane iyle of halffe myle lange and halffe myle braid, guid main land, inhabit and manurit, fruitfull of corne and pastorage, with abundance of fisching.

Colmkill (Iona)

Narrest this, be twa myles of sea, layes the ile the Erische callit I-colm-kill, that is, Sanct Colm’s ile, an faire mayne ile of twa myle lange and maire, and ane myle braid, fertill, and fruitfull of corne and store, and guid for fishing. Within this ile there is a monastery of mounckes, and ane uther of nuns, with a paroche kirke, and sundrie uther chapells, dotat of auld by the kings of Scotland, and be Clandonald of the iyles. This abbay forsaid was the cathedrall kirk of the bishops of the iyles, sen the tyme they were expulsed out of the ile of Man by the Englishmen, for within the ile of Man was ther cathedrall kirk and living of auld, as I have already said in the description of that ile. Within this ile of Colmkill, there is ane sanctuary also, or kirkzaird, callit in Erische Religoran, quhilk is a very fair kirkzaird, and weill biggit about with staine and lyme. Into this sanctuary ther is three tombes of staine, formit like little chapels, with ane braid gray marble or quhin staine in the gavill of ilk ane of the tombes. In the staine of the ane tombe there is wretten in Latin letters, Tumulus Regum Scotić, that is, The tombe ore grave of the Scotts Kinges. Within this tombe, according to our Scotts and Erische cronikels, ther layes fortey-eight crouned Scotts kings, through the quhilk this ile has been richlie dotat be the Scotts kings, as we have said. The tombe on the south syde forsaid hes this inscription, Tumulus Regum Hybernić, that is, The tombe of the Irland kinges; for we have in our auld Erische cronickells, that ther wes foure Irland kinges eirdit in the said tombe. Upon the north syde of our Scotts tombe, the inscriptione beares Tumulus Regum Norwegić, that is, The tombe of the kings of Norroway; in the quhilk tombe, as we find in our ancient Erische cronickells, ther layes eight kings of Norroway, and als we find, in our Erishe cronickells, that Coelus king of Norroway commandit his nobils to take his bodey and burey it in Colmkill, if it chancit him to die in the iles; bot he was so discomfitit, that ther remained not so maney of his armey as wald burey him ther; therefor he wes eirded in Kyle, after hc stroke ane field against the Scotts, and was vanquisht be them. Within this sanctuary also lyes the maist pairt of the Lords of the iles, with their lineage. Twa Clan Lynes with their lynage, M’Kynnon and M’Guare with their lynages, with sundrie uthers inhabitants of the hail iles, because this sanctuarey wes wont to be the sepulture of the best men of all the iles, and als of our kings, as we have said; becaus it was the maist honorable and ancient place that was in Scotland in thair dayes, as we reid.

Soa, Naban (Eilean nam Ban), Moroan & Reringe

At the southwest end of this ile of Colmkill, layes ane ile callit Soa, quherin ther is infinit number of wyld fowels nests. It is half ane myle in lenthe, verey guid for sheepe. It pertains to Colmkill.

On the southeist syde of the yland of Colmkill, ther layes ane ile, callit in Erishe Ellan Naban, that is the Woemens ile. It is full of heddir, guid for store and fishing. It pertains to Colmkill.

On the north northest end of Colmkill, lyes ane little ile, by the Erishe namit Ellan Moroan, ane little laiche maine sandie ile, full of bent and guid for sheepe. It pertains to Colmkill.

On the north syde of Colmkill layes ther ane litel iyle, by the Erishe namit Ellan Reringe, ane profitable ile, yielding verey grate plentey of wyld fowls eggs, and guid for fishing, perteining to Colmkill.

Inche Kenzie, Eorsay, Calfa, The Glasse Iles, Ardin Rider, Ellan Madie & Ellan Moir

On the north and north-northeist of Colmkill, lyes ane iyle, be twalve myles of sea till within the entres of Lochseaford forsaid, callit Inch Kenzie, half ane myle in lenthe, and not fully half a myle in breadthe, a fair ile, fertill and fruitful, inhabit and manurit, full of cunings about the shores of it, with a paroch kirk, the maist part of the parochin being upon the mayne shoar of Mull, being onlie ane half myle distant from the said ile, and the haill parochin of it pertains to the prioress of Colmkill.

Within this iyle of Inch Kenzie, in the said Loche of Seaforte, be ane myle of sea, lyes ane ile callit Eorsay, ane fertile ile, full of corne and grassing, mair than a myle lang, pertaining to the prioress of Colmkill.

Upon the narrest coste of Mull layes ane iyle callit Calfe, ane myle of lenthe, full of woods, with ane sufficient raid for shipes, perteyning to M’Gillayne of Doward.

Befor the castel of Aross lyes ther twa iyles, the ane callit by the Erishe Glassmoire, the other Glassbeg, and in the southeist fra that, throughe the Kyle of Mull, lyes the said twa iles, perteyning to M’Gillayne of Doward.

From the twa Glass iles to the southeist lyes an ile, callit by the Erishe Ardin Rider, that is, the ile of Knightsness, perteining to M’Gillayne of Doward.

Southward from Doward layes ane ile, upon the shore side, namit Ellan Madie by the Erishe. It is very guid for store, being bentey. It pertains to M’Gillayne of Doward.

Southwest from Ellan-madie, upon the shore of Mull, lyes ane ile, callit by the Erishe Ellan-moir, guid for store and for fishing, pertening to M’Gillayne of Lochbuy.

Skye & Surrounding Islands

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