There is evidence of human activity on Colonsay going back to 7,000 B.C. and all over the island you can find evidence of Colonsay's long history ranging from the Iron Age forts and duns which still dominate the Colonsay skyline, to the abandoned village of Riasg Buidhe, which was inhabited up to 1918. There are several historical sources for those who wish to learn about Colonsay's history, all of which are stocked by the Colonsay Bookshop. We have also been given permission by the The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland to publish on this site the introduction to their definitive guide to all things archaeological on Colonsay and Oransay "Colonsay & Oronsay - An Inventory of the Monuments extracted from Argyll Volume 5".
Of all of the historical artefacts to be found on Colonsay and Oransay, the priory on Oransay is without doubt the most impressive. Local legend has it that Oransay was visited by Columba on his journey into exile from his native Ireland. On climbing Beinn Oransay on a clear day he discovered that he could still see the coast of Ireland so he sailed on, eventually founding the religious community on Iona.
While it would be nice to lay claim to a monastic site predating Iona, the magnificent priory on Oransay, much of which much is still standing today, was actually founded by the Augustinians in the early 14th century and became an important religious centre for the islands and Argyll over the next two hundred years. The ruins are well-preserved and there is a wonderful collection of carved gravestones.