Inchcolm Island and Abbey

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Inchcolm Island and Abbey are situated in the Firth of Forth about 4 miles out from South Queensferry. There are two boat tour companies that offer regular trips to the island and the three Forth Bridges. You can view the island and abbey from the boat, or in summer, get off and catch a later boat, allowing between one and two hours on the island.

There is a large car park by the pier at South Queensferry, and regular busses run between Edinburgh and South Queensferry, including tour buses that allow bus/boat tours from Edinburgh centre. South Queensferry Photo Page. Abbey Website .

Boat companies websites: and .

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King David I founded an Augustinian monastery on Inchcolm Island in the 1100s. That monastery was raised to the status of an abbey in 1235. The abbey is claimed to be one of the best-preserved in Scotland, now run by Historic Scotland. You have to buy a separate ticket if you want to get off at the island.

The boat tours also visit smaller island to view seals and sea birds, give close up views of the bridges, give information on ship wrecks in the area, one containing royal treasure, and how the islands were used during the two world wars.

The image below left is of seals using a ship marker as a sun lounger. The image below right is of the visitor centre on Inchcolm Island. The visitor centre has a hogback stone grave marker dated to the 900s. The visitor centre sells cold drinks, ice cream, sweets and souvenirs.

Inchcolm Abbey

The images above show Inchcolm Island and Abbey. You can explore all the Abbey and climb to the top of the tower for great views. The stairs in the tower are narrow and steep.

Touring the island, you will see the remains of military gun placements and barracks. There is also a long tunnel through the east side of the island, as seen in the image above.

The island has two sandy beaches, many scenic picnic areas, and a small island next to the pier covered in gnomes.

Inchcolm History:

900s - a hogback grave marker stone is used on the island showing Christianity must have been present on the island at that time. This stone is now in the visitor centre.

1070 - King Malcom III (Canmore) marries the English princess Margaret.

They establish a huge Abbey and Palace at Dunfermline, northwest of Inchcolm Island.

Margaret then establishes the first ferry service between Queensferry and North Queensferry, so people from the south of the Forth could visit Dunfermline Abbey.

1123 - King Alexander I, son of Malcom III and Margaret, sheltered on Inchcolm Island during a storm and vowed to build a Monastery on the island as it could have saved his life.

1124 - King Alexander I dies before he can have a monastery built on the island.

1124 - David I, brother of Alexander I, founded a priory on Inchcolm Island.

1235 - the status of the priory was raised to an abbey.

1335 - during the Wars of Independence with England, the Abbey’s treasures and a statue of Columba were stolen.

1547 - Inchcolm was held by the English during wars over religion.

Henry VIII of England had adopted Protestantism and wanted his son Edward to marry the infant Mary, Queen of Scots.

Scotland was still Catholic at that time, with strong connections to Catholic France.

The English feared Scotland and France would join together to invade England.

1548 - the French sent 10,000 troops to the Forth area to help the Scots. Mary Queen of Scots moved to France that year for her safety, and later Married a French Prince.

1551 - a treaty was signed between Scotland, England and France to end the war.

1560 - Scottish Parliament adopts Protestantism, leading to the end of Catholic worship in Scotland and the Abbeys.

Inchcolm is one of the best preserved Abbeys due to it being on an Island. Little of its stonework was taken for other buildings, like so many Abbeys on the mainland.

1633, the ship Blessing of Burntisland sank close to Inchcolm Island carrying Charles I’s treasure, valued at over £1 billion today. The treasure has never been recovered.

1914 - 1918 during WWI, Inchcolm Island was used as a fortress to help defend Edinburgh. Many huge British warships are stationed here Image.

1918 - the 20,000 ton aircraft carrier Campania sank close to Inchcolm Island.

Campania was on aging liner converted to an aircraft carrier during WWI.

1939 - 1945 - during WWII, the island was again fortified to help protect Edinburgh.

1990s - Historic Scotland takes control of Inchcolm Abbey, maintaining the building, and allowing visits throughout the summer.

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