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Colonsay
Location
Colonsay is located in Scotland
Colonsay
Colonsay shown within Scotland
OS grid reference NR382938
Names
Gaelic name About this sound Colbhasa
Pronunciation IPA: [kʰɔlˠ̪ɔ.əs̪ə]
Norse name Colonsey
Meaning of name Old Norse for 'Columba's isle'
Area and summit
Area 4,074 hectares (15.7 sq mi)
Area rank 26
Highest elevation 143 metres (469 ft)
Population
Population (2001) 108
Population rank 44 out of 97
Main settlement Scalasaig
Groupings
Island group Islay
Local Authority Argyll and Bute
Flag of Scotland.svg Lymphad3.svg
References [1][2]
If shown, area and population ranks are for all Scottish islands and all inhabited Scottish islands respectively.

Colonsay (Scottish Gaelic: Colbhasa) is an island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides, located north of Islay and south of Mull and has an area of 4,074 hectares (15.7 sq mi). It is the ancestral home of Clan Macfie and the Colonsay branch of Clan MacNeill. Aligned on a south-west to north-east axis, it measures 8 miles (13 km) in length and reaches 3 miles (4.8 km) at its widest point.

Contents

Community

The island's total population is about 110 people. Colonsay's main settlement is Scalasaig (Gaelic: Sgalasaig) on the east coast, from where ferries sail to Oban and, between April and October, to Kennacraig via Port Askaig on Islay.

The island is known for Colonsay House, the eighth century Riasg Buidhe Cross, its wild goats, and for birds including Black-legged Kittiwakes, cormorants, guillemots, corncrakes and golden eagles. The island is linked by a tidal causeway (named 'The Strand') to Oronsay [Orasa].

Although Colonsay appears bare and somewhat forbidding on approach from the sea, its landscape is exceptionally beautiful and varied, with some of the finest sandy beaches in the Hebrides, and a sheltered and fertile interior. Hence the growth of tourism as the mainstay of the island's economy, with numerous holiday cottages, many of them owned and managed by the Isle of Colonsay Estate. The estate is owned by Donald Howard, 4th Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, whose eldest son and heir to the title, Alex Howard, lives on the island with his family and oversees the running of the Estate.

The Druid's Circle and other archaeological features on Colonsay.[3]

The island has a tiny bookshop specialising in books of local interest; it is also the home of the House of Lochar publishing company specialising in Scottish history.[4] There is a hotel overlooking the harbour,[5] a cafe and bakery, and a shop and post office. In 2006 the former grass airstrip was upgraded and provided with a hard surface, in readiness for the introduction of a scheduled air service from Oban (Connel). This service began operating in June 2008 with morning and evening flights on Tuesdays and Thursdays.[6]

Colonsay Community Development Company, the local development trust is “engaged in a range of work which reflects a sustainable approach to the regeneration of our island”. Current projects include running the islands coal supply and only petrol pump, a major rhododendron ponticum eradication programme and a feasibility study into the possibility of improving the harbour and surrounding area.

The nature of island life was exemplified by a story reported in November 2006, when a construction worker from Glasgow was arrested and confessed to burglary. The man had entered an unlocked house and stolen £60 in cash. Media interest was stirred when it was reported that this was the first recorded crime since 2004, and the 'first ever theft from a house.'[7]

2007 saw the opening of the Colonsay Brewery, a micro-brewery offering three different products.[8]

Music and film

The 1945 film I Know Where I'm Going directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger was principally shot on Mull and references the fictional "Isle of Kiloran", which was based on Colonsay.[9]

In 2008, Colonsay hosted the first ever Ceòl Cholasa, the island's own folk festival. Big names in the Scottish folk scene such as Karine Polwart, Kathleen MacInnes, The Anna Massie Band and Rallion performed. There was also performances from local island musicians at open mics and concerts. Due to the success of 2008's festival, there was another in 2009 featuring Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, Heidi Talbot, Karen Matheson and Donald Shaw, Kris Drever, John McCusker, Roddy Woomble, Breabach and Robin Laing. A further festival is planned for 2010.[10]

Mesolithic food industry

In 1995 evidence of large-scale Mesolithic nut processing, some 9,000 years old, was found in a midden pit at Staosnaig on the island's sheltered east coast. The evidence consists of a large, shallow pit full of the remains of hundreds of thousands of burned hazelnut shells. Hazelnuts have been found on other Mesolithic sites, but rarely in such quantities or concentrated in one pit. The nuts were radiocarbon dated to 7720+/-110BP, which calibrates to circa 7000 BC. Similar sites in Britain are known only at Farnham in Surrey and Cass ny Hawin on the Isle of Man.[11][12]

This discovery gives an insight into communal activity and forward planning in the period. The nuts were harvested in a single year and pollen analysis suggests that the hazel trees were all cut down at the same time.[12] The scale of the activity, unparalleled elsewhere in Scotland, and the lack of large game on the island, suggests the possibility that Colonsay contained a community with a largely vegetarian diet for the time they spent on the island. The pit was originally on a beach close to the shore, and was associated with two smaller stone-lined pits, whose function remains obscure, a hearth, and a second cluster of pits.[11]

Gallery

Notes

  1. ^ General Register Office for Scotland (28 Nov 2003) Occasional Paper No 10: Statistics for Inhabited Islands Retrieved 9 July 2007.
  2. ^ Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 1841954543. 
  3. ^ Harvie-Brown, J.A. and Buckley, T. E. (1892), A Vertebrate Fauna of Argyll and the Inner Hebrides. Pub. David Douglas., Edinburgh.
  4. ^ House of Lochar Publisher. "Mission Statement". http://www.houseoflochar.com/sitefiles/mission.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  5. ^ "Colonsay Hotel". http://www.thecolonsay.com. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  6. ^ "Argyll Flying High." Argyll-bute.gov.uk. Retrieved 20 September 2007
  7. ^ Paterson. S. (2006-11-10). "Colonsay’s first house thief is fined £400". The Herald newspaper (Glasgow). http://www.islayblog.com/2006entries/20061110-colonsaycrime.shtml. Retrieved 2006-11-29. 
  8. ^ "Colosay Brewery". http://www.colonsaybrewery.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  9. ^ "Mull: I Know Where I'm Going" powell-pressburger.org. Retrieved 29 December 2009. Extract from Bruce, David (1996) Scotland the Movie. Polygon.
  10. ^ "Ceol Chòlasa" colonsay.org.uk. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  11. ^ a b "Mesolithic food industry on Colonsay" (June 1995) British Archaeology. No. 5. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  12. ^ a b Moffat, Alistair (2005) Before Scotland: The Story of Scotland Before History. London. Thames & Hudson. p. 91–2.

External links

Coordinates: 56°4′N 6°13′W / 56.067°N 6.217°W / 56.067; -6.217

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

COLONSAY, an island of the Inner Hebrides, Argyllshire, Scotland, io m. S. of the Ross of Mull. It is 72 m. long by 3 m. broad. The highest point is Carnan Eoin (479 ft.). Towards the middle of the island lies Loch Fada, nearly 2 m. long but very narrow, and there are two other small lakes and a few streams. The coast-line, with frequent beautiful sandy reaches, is much indented, the chief bays being Kiloran, Kilchattan and Staosunaig. On the north-western coast the cliffs are particularly fine. To the south, separated by a strait that is fordable at low water, lies the isle of Oronsay, 21 m. long by 21 m. wide. Both islands contain a number of ecclesiastical remains, standing stones, and some beautiful sculptured crosses. They are named after Columba and Oran, who are said to have stopped here after they left Ireland. There is regular communication between Scalasaig and Glasgow and the Clyde ports. The golf-course at Kilchattan lends a touch of modernity to these remote islands. Near Scalasaig a granite obelisk has been erected to the memory of Sir Duncan M`Neill (1794-1874), a distinguished Scottish lawyer, who took the title of Lord Colonsay when he became a lord of appeal. The soil of both islands is fertile, potatoes and barley being raised and cattle pastured. Population: Colonsay (1901), 301; Oronsay (1901), 12.


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