The Finlaggan Trust is delighted to have recently welcomed pupils and staff from Islay High School for a two-day field visit and workshop led by the Lochgilphead-based artist and tutor, Lesley Burr. Working in the linocut medium all sought inspiration from the site and the many artefacts on display at the Visitor Centre. We hope to have some more detailed pictures of the individual artworks in the near future.
Early reports on the new virtual reality installation are beginning to filter through. Here are two from BBC News and The Scotsman:
- BBC: Lords of the Isles medieval home in Islay recreated
- Scotsman: Inside the medieval home of the Lords of the Isles
This year visitors to the ancient site of Finlaggan in Islay will have the unique opportunity of travelling back in time through a new virtual reality installation at the visitor centre. Using a state of the art headset visitors will be able to travel throughout the site in virtual reality, going inside the reconstructed buildings and finding a real sense of what life was like at Finlaggan in the past. Along with unique local Gaelic commentary complete with English subtitles the new installation is a fantastic informative and fun historical experience.
The recreation of the medieval administrative and ceremonial seat of the Lordship of the Isles has been done by the University of St. Andrews. During the Middle Ages Clan Donald, Lords of the Isles, ruled the Hebrides and parts of mainland Scotland and Ulster as a semi-independent Gaelic kingdom, which sometimes caused tensions within Scotland. By the late fifteenth century they had once again fallen foul of the crown and the Lordship was finally forfeited by James IV in 1493. Many of the buildings at Finlaggan were destroyed at this time and the site gradually sank into obscurity.
Work by the National Museum of Scotland under archaeologist Dr. David Caldwell and the financial assistance of Lagavulin distillery allowed the Finlaggan Trust to commission the University of St. Andrews. The reconstruction of early fifteenth century Finlaggan shows the twin islands of Eilean Mòr and Eilean na Comhairle (or Council Isle), and their surroundings in Loch Finlaggan. There was a remarkable complex of buildings which blended local traditions with wider European trends. It is significant that the Lords of the Isles’ residence on Eilean Mòr had little in the way of defensive structures, possibly showing how settled the Lordship was for its time. Documentary research and comparison with other late medieval sites has been used to ensure the reconstruction is as accurate as possible.
There will be an official launch in Islay later in the year. Additionally there is a virtual reality app in the pipeline and an online video, which can be accessed via Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/337511074. A video about the project can also be viewed on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/336843017.
Am-bliadhna gheibh luchd-tadhail don làrach aosmhor Phort an Eilein (Fionnlagain) ann an Ìle cothrom air leth a dhol air ais ann an ùine le goireas VR san ionad fiosrachaidh. Le clogaid ùr-nodha thèid aig luchd-tadhail air siubhal air feadh an làraich ann an VR, dol a-staigh do na toglaichean ath-chruthaichte agus sealladh fhaotainn air beatha ann am Port an Eilein sna seann làithean. Tha an goireas ùr na dhòigh fìor fhiosrachail agus spòrsail eòlas eachdraidheil fhaotainn, le aithriseadh Gàidhlig ionadail agus fo-thiotalan Beurla.
Chaidh ath-chruthachadh cathair rianachail agus deas-ghnàthach Tighearnas nan Eilean a dhèanamh le Oilthigh Chill Rìmhinn. Rè nam Meadhan Aoisean riaghail Clann Dòmhnaill, Rìghrean nan Eilean, Innse Gall agus cuid tìr-mòr na h-Alba is Ulaidh mar iar-rioghachd Ghàidhlig, a dh’adhbharaich dragh taobh a-staigh na h-Alba a-nis ‘s a-rithist. Faisg air deireadh a’ chòigeamh linn deug bha iad air dol a-mach air a’ chrùn a-rithist agus dh’arbhartachadh an Tighearnas leis an Rìgh Seumas IV ann an 1493. Chaidh iomadh togalach a mhilleadh aig an àm seo agus beag air bheag thuit an làrach à sealladh.
Leig obair Taigh-tasgaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba fon àrsaidhear an Dtr Dàibhidh Caldwell agus maoineachadh bho taigh-staile Lag a’ Mhuilinn le Urras Fhionnlagain cùmhnant a thoirt do dh’Oilthigh Chill Rìmhinn. Seallaidh ath-chruthachadh Phort an Eilein sa chòigeamh linn deug an dà eilean, Eilean Mòr is Eilean na Comhairle, agus an loch mun cuairt. Bha grunn thoglaichean sònraichte ann a thug còmhla cleachdaidhean ionadail agus modhan Eòrpach. Tha e brìgheil nach robh mòran dhaingnichean aig dachaigh Rìghrean nan Eilean air Eilean Mòr, ‘s dòcha a leigeil fhaicinn cho sìtheil ‘s a bha an Tighearnas ‘son an àm. Chaidh rannsachadh sgrìobhainn agus coimeas ri làraichean eile meadhan-aoiseil a chleachdadh gus dèanamh cinnteach gum biodh an t-ath-chruthachadh cho ceart ‘s a ghabhas.
Bidh tachartas oifigeach ann an Ìle nas anmoiche sa bhliadhna. A bharrachd, tha app air an rathad agus tha bhideo air-loidhne, a ghabhas faicinn via Vimeo aig https://vimeo.com/337511074. Tha bhideo mun phròiseact ann cuideachd aig https://vimeo.com/336843017.
The Finlaggan Visitor Centre will open on Saturday 30 March. We look forward to seeing again those who have visited us before and welcoming new visitors to the site.
The season promises to be an exciting one for the Trust. In addition to a number of major repairs to the access road, the Visitor Centre and Eilean Mor, we will also be showcasing our virtual reality reconstruction of the site during its height in the fifteenth century.
Working in collaboration with the University of St. Andrews this exciting project will provide visitors with some sense of Finlaggan at the zenith of the Lordship’s power. We will also be exhibiting a number of photogrammetrical reconstructions of some of the artefacts found at the site and around the island, in addition to some drone footage from Islay and Jura.
A Finlaggan app will also be available in the coming year, bringing yet another dimension to the visitor experience and help bring Finlaggan to the attention of a wider public. Updates will follow. Watch this space.
A very successful Venison Supper was held on Saturday 23 February, when some 60 friends and supporters sat down to a sumptuous 4-course meal, followed by entertainment and dancing. Once again, our grateful thanks to all the organisations and individuals who provided ingredients, dishes and help, and of course to all the entertainers and our Fear-an-Taighe for the evening, Andy McCowan.