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Ten facts about Inchcolm Island

Emilija Morrison: Business Development Assistant

This year, Walking Tours in Scotland will be launching a new tour on Inchcolm Island, a collaboration with Forth Boat Tours. To mark the new tour, we’ve created a list of our favourite facts about the island. Read on to hear more about the place.


a large body of water with a mountain in the background

1. Before the monastery was built here, apparently a hermit used to live on the island

Not a bad place to be a hermit, to be honest.

2. The oldest relic is from the 10th century

The old relic is a ‘hogback’ tombstone.

3. Inchcolm Abbey dates back to the 12th century

Yes, Inchcolm Abbey is very old.
a small boat in a large body of water

4. The Abbey was founded by King David I

Alexander I, the brother of King David, sheltered here during stormy weather in 1123. To thank the island for saving his life, he promised to build a monastery here. Unfortunately, Alexander died before he was able to commence work on the monastery, so his brother had to take over instead.

5. It didn’t actually become an Abbey until 1235

For over a hundred years, it was a monastery.

6. The island was victim to naval raids

Between the 1300s to the mid-1500s, there were many English naval raids throughout the wars with England.


a stone castle next to a body of water

7. A history book was written here

Not just any book, Scotichronicon was a massive history of Scotland, written by Abbot Walter Bower. Clearly there must have been some peaceful times in the period of the English naval raids, for he wrote it in the mid-1400s.

8. Inchcolm Island was a place to quarantine during the plague

The island became a “quarantine island”. Ships of plague victims would sail to the island and be left here to isolate. Imagine if they had done the same during coronavirus times…
9. The island housed about 500 soldiers during WW1 and WW2
The island was useful in defending Edinburgh, the Forth Bridge and the Rosyth Naval Base.
10. Today, the island is filled with birds
There are thousands of them all over the island.
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