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Inchcolm Island and Abbey

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Inchcolm Island and Abbey are 4 miles out from South Queensferry, that is 10 miles west of Edinburgh. The earliest parts of the Abbey were built in the 1100s for King David I.

Inchcolm Island and Abbey are open for visits 1 Apr to 31 Oct, 9.30am to 5.30pm. Boat Trips to the Forth Bridges and around the Island run most of the year. Regular Buses and Trains run from Edinburgh.

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The image top is of the High Street in South Queensferry, a scenic little Town with a Marina, Beach, Pubs and Diners.

The second image is of one of two Tour Boats that depart from a Slip at the Forth Rail Bridge. This is the Slip used by Car Ferries until the Forth Road Bridge was completed in 1964.

There are a few different Boat Tours available, including 1 and a half hours around the Islands and Bridges, and a 3 hour trip that allows 1 and a half hours on Inchcolm Island.

The two companies running tours are: Forth Tours and Maid of the Forth.

The Boat Tours also visit a 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 Visitor Centre has a Hogback Stone Grave Marker dated to the 900s, said to be of Anglo-Saxon or Viking origin. The Visitor Centre sells Cold Drinks, Ice Cream, Sweets and Souvenirs.

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.

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 established the first Ferry Service between South 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 were stationed around the Island. Image.

1918 - the 20,000 ton Aircraft Carrier Campania sank close to Inchcolm Island.

Campania was an 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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Inchcolm Abbey Photos