Mull ( Scottish Gaelic : muilë , pronounced [mulʲə] ) is the second Largest island of the Inner Hebrides (after Skye ), off the west coast of Scotland in the council area of Argyll and Bute .

With an area of ​​875.35 square kilometers (337.97 sq mi) Mull is the fourth largest Scottish island and the fourth largest outside Great Britain (excluding Ireland). In the 2011 census the usual resident population of Mull was 2,800 [2] to a slight increase on the 2001 figure of 2,667; [6] in the summer this is supplemented by many tourists. Much of the population lives in Tobermory , the only burgh on the island until 1973, and its capital.

Tobermory is also home to Mull’s only Scotch whiskey distillery malt : Tobermory distillery (formerly Ledaig). [7]


Early history

It is widely believed that it was inhabited by the late Ice Age , around 6000 BC. Bronze Age Gutman built menhirs , brochs and a stone circle with examples of burial cairns, cists , standing stones, pottery and knife blades Provide compelling evidence.

Between 600 BC and AD 400, Iron Age inhabitants were building protective forts, duns and crannogs . Whether or not they were Picts is unclear.

In the 6th century, Irish immigrants invaded Mull and the surrounding coast, establishing the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata . The kingdom is divided into two regions, one controlled by one group, of which the central control of Mull and the adjacent mainland to the east. Dál Riata was a springboard for the Christianization of the mainland; the pivotal point was AD 563, when Columba , an Irish missionary, arrived at Iona (just off the south-west point of Mull) and founded a monastery, from which to start evangelizing the local population.


In the 9th century, Viking invasions led to the destruction of Dál Riata, and its replacement by the Norse Kingdom of the Isles , which became part of the Norwegian following Norwegian unification. The Kingdom of the Isles was much more extensive than Dál Riata, encompassing the Outer Hebrides and Skye . To Norway, the isle known as Suðreyjar (Old Norse, traditionally English Sodor ), meaning southern isles . The former lands of Dal Riata The Argyle (now Argyll ): the Gaelic coast .

In the late 11th century, Magnus Barefoot , the Norwegian king, lancé a military campaign qui, in 1098, lead the king of Scotland to quitclaim to Magnus all claim of sovereign authority over the territory of the Kingdom of the Isles. However, some 60 years later, Norse-Gael named Somerled , detached the Suðreyjar from Norway, and transformed it into an independent Kingdom. Following Somerled’s 1164 death, nominal authority, Somerled’s sons and the heirs of Somerled’s brother-in-law, the Crovan Dynasty . His son Dougallreceived form the territory of the Cenél Loairn, now Known As Lorn , of qui Mull FORMED hand.

Meanwhile, the Crovan Dynasty had the king of the Isles , and control of the Lewis / Harris , and the Isle of Man . After Dougall’s Heirs (The MacDougalls ) Completed to Haakon , the Norwegian King, and 1237 were rewarded by the kingship being split; They were made in the MacDougall line, and they were made king of the Hebrides . They established the twin castles of Aros (in Mull) and Ardtornish (on the Mainland, opposite), which together controlled the Sound of Mull .

Throughout the early 13th century, the Scottish King, Alexander II , had made aggressive attempts to expand his realm into Suðreyjar, despite Edgar’s earlier quitclaim. This naturally led to a period of high hostility between Norway and Scotland, which continued under Alexander III , Alexander II’s successor. The Norwegian king died shortly after the indecisive Battle of Largs . In 1266, his more peaceable successor ceded his nominal authority over Suðreyjar to the Scottish King ( Alexander III ) by the Treaty of Perth, in return for a very large sum of money. Alexander generally acknowledged the semi-independent authority of Somerled’s heirs; the former Suðreyjar had become Scottish crown dependencies, rather than parts of Scotland.

Lords of the Isles

At the end of the century, a dispute over the Scottish kingship between King John Balliol and Robert de Bruys . By this point, Somerled’s descendants had formed into three families – Dougall’s heirs (the MacDougalls), there were also the heirs of his nephew Donald (the MacDonalds ), and those of Donald’s brother (the MacRory ); the MacDougalls backed Balliol, while the MacDonalds and MacRory backed from Bruys. When de Bruys defeated John, he declared the MacDougall lands forfeit, and gave them to the MacDonalds and MacRory, with the latter acquiring Lorn (and hence, Mull). John , the head of the MacDonald family then marriedthe heir of the Macrory family , which consolidates the remains of Somerled’s realm, and transforms it into the Lordship of the Isles .

In 1354, though in exile and without control of his ancestral lands, John, the MacDougall heir , quitclaimed any rights he had over Mull to the Lord of the Isles. When Robert’s son, David II, King of Scotland , became king, he became captivity; following his release, in 1357, he restored MacDougall authority over Lorn, effectively canceling Robert’s grant to the MacRory. The 1354 quitclaim, which seems to have been an attempt to secure peace in just such an eventuality, had automatic effect, splitting Mull from Lorn, and making it subject to the Lordship of the Isles.

In 1437, the Lordship was substantially expanded when Alexander, the Lord of the Isles , inherited the rule of Ross maternally. The expansion of the MacDonalds to move their center of power from Islay to the twin castles of Aros and Ardtornish.

In 1462, the most ambitious of the Lords of the Isles, John MacDonald , struck an alliance with Edward IV of England , to conquer Scotland. Civil war in England , which was discovered in 1475 when the English court voluntarily revealed its existence. Calls for forfeiture of the Lordship naturally followed, but they were calmed when John quitclaimed most of his mainland territories. However, ambition was not given up so easily, and John did not go to a severe raid on Ross , but it ultimately failed. Within 2 years of the raid, in 1493, James IV of Scotland The Lordship of the Isles forfeit, transforming the realm into an intrinsic part of Scotland, rather than merely a dependency.


Throughout all this time, the descendants of the Cenel Loairn had retained their identity; they were now the MacLeans . Now that John MacDonald was exiled, James IV restored the authority of the MacLeans over Mull. An earlier chief of the MacLeans had the daughter of the first Lord of the Isles, and received Duart Castle as the dowry; this now becomes the stronghold of MacLean control of Mull. The senior branch of the family built at a mansion on Moy , on the southern side of Mull, while the younger branch retained Duart Castle.

This is the story of the galleon, laden with gold, lies somewhere in the mud at the bottom of Tobermory Bay, the ship’s identity and cargo are disputed. By some accounts, the Florencia (or Florida , or San Francisco ), a ship of the defeated Spanish Armada fleeing the English fleet in 1588, anchored in Tobermory to take on provisions. After a dispute over payment, the ship caught fire and the gunpowder magazine exploded, sinking the vessel. In her hold, reputedly, was £ 300,000 in gold bullion . [8] Other sources claim the vessel was San Juan de Sicilia (or San Juan de Baptista), which, records indicate, carried troops, not treasure. [9] [10] According to that account, the island’s chief, Lachlan Mor Maclean , struck a deal with the Spanish command to re-provision and refit the ship in return for military intervention on the side of the MacLeans in their feud with enemies on nearby islands. [11] [12] [13] Whatever the true story, there are many inquiries for the wreck, and its rumored treasure, from the mid-17th century to the end of the 20th century. [14] No significant treasure has yet been recovered in Tobermory Bay. [15]

Following the Scottish Reformation , the MacLeans has become supporters of Protestantism. By the mid-17th century, They HAD Become promoters of conventicles , Opposed to king Charles II ‘s repudiation of the Solemn League and Covenant , and Supporting acts of civil disobedience . Archibald Campbell, the Earl of Argyll , was personally elected by the Scottish Privy Councilto remove conventicles within his lands, which included Lorn. The atmosphere of hostility soon spread to Mull, where opponents of the conventicles now felt emboldened, leading to outbreaks of violence between the two religious factions.

In 1678, Campbell was specifically instructed to sixteen Mull, and suppress both violence and conventicles. It took him until 1680 to gain possession of the whole island. Campbell took charge of Duart Castle, and ejected the MacLean leadership from Mull; they moved to Cairnbulg Castle in Aberdeenshire. Campbell’s own position was somewhat undermined when he instigated Argyll’s Rising , against the reign of James VII . The loyalty of subsequent Campbell leaders ensured that the Campbells retained possession of Duart (indeed, it was only after the Campbells sold it, and it was given to a century under other owners, that the MacLeans were able to recover it, by purchase). Under Campbell pressure, shrieval authority was established under thesheriff of Argyll , which they controlled.

Later history

Following Jacobite insurrections, the Heritable Jurisdictions Act abolished comital authority in Mull, and Campbell’s control of the Argyll sheriffdom; the Campbells could only have influence as Landlords. Many castles which had been in the hands of the MacLeans (such as Moy) had been slighted by the Campbells, or fallen into disrepair, but more comfortable homes were built nearby.

In 1773 the island was visited by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell during their famous Tour of the Western Islands. Farming, fishing and burning seaweed for kelp ash (used in the manufacture of soap and glass) were the main economic activities on the island until the 19th century. Tobermory was built by the British Fisheries Society in 1788, as part of the fishing industry. Following the Highlands in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the Highland Potato Famine , the population fell from 10,000 to less than 3,000 and the island economy collapsed. Despite this, several large houses were built on Mull in the period, includingTorosay ” Castle ” . By the early 20th century there were more sheep than people.

In 1889, counties were formally created in Scotland, on shrieval boundaries, by a dedicated Local Government Act ; Mull therefore became part of the newly created County of Argyll .

The whole island became a Restricted Area during World War II . The Bay at Tobermory became a naval base commanded from HMS Western Isles . The base and the Restricted Area Were under Commodore (later Vice Admiral) Sir Gilbert Stephenson , Whose strict discipline and ferocious temper _him_ earned the nickname “The Terror of Tobermory.” [16] The base was used to train Escort Groups in anti-submarine warfare. 911 ships passed through the base between 1940 and 1945. Following late 20th century reforms, Mull is now part of the wider area of Argyll and Bute .


There is one school on the island ( Tobermory High School , which includes a Gaelic medium education unit) and several primary schools. Salen Primary School has a Gaelic medium education unit. Secondary pupils (age 11 – 18) from Iona, Bunessan and Fionnphort in the south west are waiting for Oban High School , staying in an Oban hostel from Monday to Thursday.


Mull has a coastline of 480 kilometers (300 mi) and its climate is moderated by the Gulf Stream . The island has a mountainous core; the highest peak on the island is Ben More , which reaches 966 meters (3,169 ft). Various peninsulas, which are predominantly moorland , radiate from the center.

The Arsenal of Tobermory , which was a burgh until 1973 when burghs were abolished. Other settlements include Salen , Dervaig and Calgary . The Ross of Mull lies to the south west and includes the villages of Bunessan , Pennyghael , Uisken and Fionnphort . Lochbuie , Lochdon and Craignure lie to the east.

Numerous islands lie off the west coast of Mull, including Erraid , Inch Kenneth , Iona , Gometra , and Ulva . Smaller uninhabited islands include Eorsa, Little Colonsay , the Treshnish Isles and Staffa (of Fingal’s Cave Fame). Calve Island is an uninhabited island in Tobermory Bay. Two outlying rock lighthouses are also visible from the south west of Mull, Dubh Artach and Skerryvore . The Torran Rocksare approximately 15 miles (39 km 2 ) in extent, located two miles (3 km) to the south west, between the Ross of Mull peninsula and Dubh Artach. Frank Lockwood’s Island near Lochbuie is named after the brother-in-law of the 21st MacLean of Lochbuie , who was Solicitor General from 1894-5. [17]

Part of the indented west coast of Mull and some of the offshore islands of Loch Na Keal National Scenic Area , one of 40 in Scotland. [18]


The economy began to revive when the construction of Pier Craignure in 1964 started to bring tourists. Tourism is now the mainstay of the island’s economy. Ecotourism became popular from the 1990s, and the reintroduction of white-tailed eagles in 2005 became a particular ecotourist attraction. [19]

There is a small amount of farming, aquaculture and fishing, and the Forestry Commission Scotland has several plantations on the island. Tobermory also has one whiskey distillery ( Tobermory distillery ) and from 2005 to 2009 had a brewery (Isle of Mull Brewing Company). [20]

Isle of Mull cheese is Scottish cheese cheddar made from raw cow milk produced on the Isle of Mull. [21]


Ferry links to Mull from the Mainland include Oban to Craignure (approx 45 mins), Kilchoan to Tobermory (approx 35 mins) and Lochaline to Fishnish (approx 15 mins). Advance bookings are not required for the Kilchoan or Fishnish ferries; access to those two ferry terminals on the mainland is via single-track roads .

There are ferry links from Fionnphort on Mull to the neighboring island of Iona and from Oskamull to Ulva . In past years there have been direct sailings to Oban (calling at Drimnin , Salen, Lochaline and Craignure), and to Barra , Coll and Tiree from Tobermory. During the summer there was also a sailing to Staffa and Iona from Oban which called at Tobermory.

The Isle of Mull Railway ran from Craignure to Torosay Castle , but closed in 2011.

One can fly to Mull in a private light aircraft using a landing strip near Salen. [22] There was a seaplane that linked Tobermory with Glasgow and Oban. The official scheduled service terminated in 2009. Loganair operated a scheduled service to Glasgow in the 1960s from Glenforsa airfield, at 780-meter-long (2,560 ft) airstrip grass constructed by the Royal Engineers in 1965 near Salen . The airstrip has been operated by Brendan and Allison Walsh, owners of the adjacent Glenforsa Hotel.

Buses are operated by West Coast Tours Ltd. There are routes from Tobermory to Calgary via Dervaig (Service 494), Tobermory to Craignure via Salen (Service 495), and Craignure to Fionnphort via Bunessan (Service 496). Limited services operate to Lochbuie and Gruline . [23] West Coast Tours also provided Mull, Iona and Staffa , including boat transfers. A minibus service also operates seasonally from Craignure to Duart Castle . [24]


Mull Was connected to the mainland by a submarine telegraph cable entre Oban and Grass Point in 1871. There Were telegraph offices at Tobermory, Dervaig , Calgary , Craignure Pennyghael , Tiroran , Fionnphort , Bunessanand Iona . [25]

The Post Office built an experimental wireless telegraph station on Meall in Inbhire near Tobermory in 1892. [26]

AM radio , broadcast from Oban, cam to the island in 1930 and television in 1954. New AM radio and UHF television transmitters were constructed on Druim Mòr, 1 mile west of Torosay Castle , in 1978. Digital transmissions started on 15 November 1998 and analog transmissions ceased on 27 October 2010. The digital transmitters have 22 [27] relays on Mull, surrounding islands and parts of the mainland. They are collectively called the Torosay Transmitter Group.

In 2014 fiber optic cables for high speed internet support between Kilchoan (in Ardnamurchan ) and Tobermory, and between Dunstaffnage (near Oban) and Torosay. In February 2015 additional cables were laid underground between Tobermory and Torosay to provide a complete link.

Media and the arts

Mull has been used as a rental of a feature film over the years. These include I Know Where I’m Going (1945), Kidnapped (1971), When Eight Bells Toll (1971), Ms. Sin (1972), Eye of the Needle (1981), The Sea Change (1998) [28] [ 29] , Entrapment (1999), Highlander: Endgame (2000) and Blooded (2011).

The BBC children’s TV series Balamory features the town of Tobermory on the island. This additional tourist attraction on the island. Grand Tours of Scotland, a TV series featured in the series.

Mull Theater is a professional theater company based in a new (2008) theater production center on the outskirts of Tobermory. [30] The company commissions plays, tours throughout Scotland and beyond and runs an education and outreach program. It started at the “Mull Little Theater” at Dervaig in 1966 and was the “Smallest Professional Theater in the World” according to the Guinness World Records . The National Theater of Scotland was in residence at the Mull Theater in April 2009. citation needed ]

An Tobar (“The Well”), based in Tobermory, is the only publicly funded multidisciplinary arts center in Argyll. Established in 1997, it is a center for visual arts, crafts and music. [31] With effect from 1 April 2013, An Tobar and the Mull Theater were brought together as Comar

Wildlife film-maker Simon King went on to hiring for the first week of Springwatch with Bill Oddie , and observed a resident family of white-tailed eagles : a male (Skye), a female (Frisa), and their two chicks, Itchy and Scratchy. Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan recently returned to his native Mull to film a year in the life of the wildlife. First broadcast in 2005 for the Natural World series, “Eagle Island” focuses on sea eagles, golden eagles , otters , basking sharks and the cetaceans found off the coast. [32]

The singer-songwriter Colin MacIntyre famously uses the name Mull Historical Society as a pseudonym. Born on the island, he took the name of the current Historical Society, which has since changed its name to Mull Historical and Archaeological Society .

Whilst part of the Argyll and Bute council area, Mull should not be confused with Mull of Kintyre , which was immortalized in a 1977 hit single by UK rock band Wings .

Natural history

The Isle of Mull is a popular destination for naturalists and photographers as it is one of the primary spots in the UK for some of Britain’s most elusive species. Information about the island ‘s wildlife, including species lists, photographs, and distribution data, is called Wild Mull. [33]

Mull has over 800 species of vascular plant (684 native and 171 naturalised) including 33 species of fern, [33] at least 18 species of orchid and 22 native species of tree. There are about 700 species of lichen, 571 liverworts and mosses and 247 marine algae (seaweeds), making a total of 2,388 species of plant recorded from the island. In addition, more than 2,000 species of fungi were recorded in their 1983 paper about the fungi of the Inner Hebrides, Dennis and Watling say, “When one speaks of the Inner Hebridean fungi is referring to the floras of Mull and Rum”. [34]

The island has 261 different bird species, including the white-tailed eagle , which was reintroduced to the nearby island of Rum and migrated to Mull, where it now has a stronghold. Basking sharks , minke whales , porpoises and dolphins are among the sea life that can be seen from Mull.

The island is home to a thriving population of otters that live in coastal habitat, hunting during the day. [35] The Mull Otter Group has been established to create positive feedback regarding the conservation of the island of Mull. [36]

The island also has several birds of prey, such as hen harriers, [37] golden eagles, [38] and [39] all difficulties to be seen throughout the rest of the UK. Pine martens have also recently become established on Mull. [40] According to Scottish Natural Heritage [41] it is unlikely that native martens have ever been native to the Isle of Mull. Based on sighting records, and from the following results, it is believed to be

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust was established in 1994 as a registered charity to pioneer practical, locally based education and monitoring programs on cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in the Hebrides. [42] The Trust is based at Tobermory, where it has its main, education and research offices and a visitor center.

There are aussi a number of non-native invasive species That Occur on the island, Including invasive plant species Such As Japanese knotweed, [43]and invasive animals Such As feral cats and American mink [44] That are Believed to be Causing damage to the indigenous species populations through competition and predation. [33]


The Tour of Mull is a closed road rally event held on the island every October. While some well off competitors benefit, the locals benefit from their knowledge of the roads and thus anyone can win. “The Best Rally In The World” is the title of a book written by the founder of the event, Brian Molyneux. Previously sponsored by Philips , the Tunnock’s , the Lanarkshire biscuit manufacturer. [45] [46]

There are several shipwrecks around the shores which offer scuba diving .

There is an Isle of Mull Cycling Club.

The Cross at the Castle cyclocross event at Glengorm Castle near Tobermory and features the World Santacross Championships and the Scottish Singlespeed Cylocross Championships.

Mull Runners organizes a half marathon and 10K run each August. It is run between Craignure and Salen.

Rugby is played at Garmony (next to the Craignure to Salen road) .6 miles north of Craignure. The Mull Rugby 7s Competition takes place every May at The RFC’s Isle of Mull Rugby Club.

There are golf courses at Tobermory (Erray Park), Craignure (beside the Craignure to Salen Road) and the Isle of Iona.

Mull Highland Games are held in Tobermory Golf Club (Erray Park). Events include Heavy Weights, Light Field, and Highland Dance. See the Scottish Highland Games Association website for dates.

There is a swimming pool at the Isle of Mull Hotel, open to the public at advertised times.

There are tennis courts in Tobermory. Apply at the Argyll and Bute Councils Offices, Breadalbane Street, Tobermory for details.

Community initiatives

Following research and community consultation in 1996/7, a development trust was created to identify key goals for the communities of Mull and Iona . Mull & Iona Community Trust (MICT) [47] was formed in 1997 and published a comprehensive “Community Regeneration Strategy” for the islands. They have purchased the only butcher ‘s shop on the island (closed February 2010), created a community run Countryside Ranger service, instigated various recycling initiatives and provide a fundraising and training consultancy. [48]

Notable residents

  • Mary Macleod ( Mairi Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh ) , a 17th-century poet, is said to be banished to Mull. [49]
  • Lachlan Macquarie, (1762-1824) was born on the nearby island of Ulva.[50] He became Governor of New South Wales from 1809 to 1822, and is known as “The Father of Australia”.[51]His mausoleum can be found near his old patrimonial estate near Gruline and is maintained at the expense of the National Trust of Australia.[52]
  • Mary MacDonald (1789-1872) from Ardtun wrote a hymn to the traditional melody Bunessan , best known today as the tune of Morning has Broken . [53]

See also

  • List of Sites of Special Interest in Mull, Coll and Tiree
  • Dòideag


  • Baird, Bob (1995) Shipwrecks of the West of Scotland . Glasgow. Nekton Books. ISBN  1-897995-02-4
  • Currie, Jo. (2001) Mull: The Island and Its People . Birlinn Ltd.
  • Jermy, AC and Crabbe, JA (Ed) (1978) The Island of Mull, a survey of its Flora and Environment. London. British Museum (Natural History).
  • Mull Theater

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