Island of the week: Jura

The isle of Jura. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The isle of Jura. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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THIS WEEK we’re exploring Jura, in the Inner Hebrides.

LOCATION: Inner Hebrides



MEANING: Deer island


Man’s presence on Jura dates back to the Mesolothic Period, also known at the middle stone age. During this time, the men of Jura were known as hunters and gatherers, and their presence can be recorded from around 11000-8000BC.

At around 4000BC, Jura was covered by a forest, changing the locals from hunters and gatherers to farmers.

The forest was mostly cleared by 2000BC, and by 750 BC the isle was largely made up of bogs.

Until Somerled came to power, Jura was under Norse control, and was ruled remotely from the Isle of Man. After Somerled ended Norse rule, his descendents became known as the Lords of the Isles.

This Lordsip continued for many years, but collapsed after John MacDonald II (the fourth lord) entered in to a treaty with Edward IV of England. He believed that if he offered his allegiance to Edward, he would become King of Scotland (north of the Clyde). Sadly, this wasn’t the case, and after this the Campbell Clan gained control. Their rule lasted until 1938 when the last Laird of Jura Charles Campbell sold the last of the Jura Estate and houses.

George Orwell famously lived in a cottage on the island from 1946-48 while he was writing 1984. He first visited the island in 1945, and despite having a near fatal encounter in the Gulf of Corryvreckan when sailing with his nephews and nieces, he returned to Jura complete his literary masterpiece the next year.


Jura is famous for the production of whisky. Tours of the distillery, which has a rich history dating back to around 1810, run all year round.

If you want to explore some of the island’s history, then visit Jura house and gardens at Ardfin. This house was built in the early 1800s by the historic Campbell clan, and provides a fascinating location for a beautiful walk.

Alternatively, you can explore sights such as the Neolithic burial cairn, which can be found south of Strone farm, the An Dunan dun located on Lowlandman’s Bay, or the ruins of Glengarrisdale Castle.


The best way to get to Jura is via the small vehicle ferry from Port Askaig on the Isle of Islay. Journey time is approximately five minutes.