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Inchcolm, Fifeshire

Historical Description

INCHCOLM, an island, in the parish of Aberdour, district of Dunfermline, county of Fife, 1½ mile (S. by W.) from Aberdour; containing 5 inhabitants. It is situated in the Firth of Forth, immediately opposite to Aberdour; and the approach to it is very beautiful. On this island are the remains of a celebrated monastery of Augustines, founded in 1123, by Alexander I., in accordance with a vow, and most richly endowed by his munificence. It soon became famous for its sanctity; and in consequence, Alan de Mortimer, lord of Aberdour, bestowed half of the lands of the parish on the monks, for the privilege of a family burial-place in their church. The wealth of the convent proved so great a temptation to the army and seamen employed in the invasion of the kingdom by Edward III., that they ravaged it without mercy, not sparing even the vessels consecrated to divine worship. A storm, however, happening instantly to follow, which overtook their ships, and in which many of them perished, they were struck with what they regarded as a judgment upon their impiety; and they returned on the cessation of the tempest, and restored the spoil. The monastery continued a place of consequence, and was highly venerated, until the Reformation. On every side the island is hemmed in by rugged rocks: in the centre is a hollow vale, connecting the two circular ends of the island, as if by an isthmus; and a range of fine land and marine scenery appears in all directions, with a splendid view of the city of Edinburgh on the south-east. A small part of the island is arable; and a few stunted trees grow round the ancient walls of the ruined cloisters. The isle abounds in rabbits; has an occasional lobster-fishery; and is noted for its onions, which it produces in great quantities. During the late war with France, Inchcolm was garrisoned by a party of artillery; and on the east end, where it is high and rocky, a battery of ten guns was at that time erected.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis