The island of Islay presents a varied landscape from peat bogs to hills and densely packed forests to coastal vistas and ragged rocks. Sheep are seen grazing almost everywhere from the tops of cliffs to the rolling hills. Driving around I have tried to capture the essence of this landscape and the feeling of this place so shaped by the sea. From the 6th century, Islay was ruled by a Gaelic overkingdom named Dál Riata. Then in the 9th century, Norse Vikings took control. By the 12th century, Scotland started to reclaim its islands. Helped by a warrior named Somerled, who seized them in 1156 and founded a dynasty that became the ‘Lords of the Isles’. Islay was under full Scottish rule by 1493. The history of the Lords is a fascinating read as it shows the power and influence of Islay and this part of Scotland.
Also visited was the Kildalton Cross erected more than 1,200 years ago, and very unusually still found standing in its original location. Excavations show there was an even earlier cross-slab on the site: this was a site with an already established Christian presence.