Jura is found on Scotland’s west coast, next to its’ busy neighbour, Islay. Although not as busy and as many inhabitants, it has whisky – well just one distillery, more later. It does however also have deer and history in abundance! Jura has been inhabited since 8000 BC and had homes since 5600 BC oh aye, a wee while back. Even 10,000 BC has been put forward, ok donder along to Lussa Bay and, 3 stone circles can be seen in Lussa Wood – believed to hold the oldest stone structure in Scotland. I do like history and scraping aboot. Even better, I love delving into clan history, especially my own; Maclean. The Battle of Kura, a little know affray, June 768 AD, a fight between the Britons (Strathclyde) and Dalriada (Ulster as is now and the west of Scotland – I do insist on you doing your own discovery work on Dalriada), this all came about around 258 AD, it is fascinating, do go and check this out, it is where Scotland and its’ language began. Wee note; the Maclean’s are related to the Kings of Dalriada.
Did I mention the Vikings were here? No, well they were, and it’s almost certain it was them who named this island “deer island”. The Norwegians gave up the island in1266, it was then ruled and held for the Scottish king by those Macdonalds, Lords of the Isles. Here we go – in 1390 lands were given to Lachlan Maclean of Duart. Then in the early 1600’s those barbarous, land grabbing, devil worshiping, thieves (the Campbells) were given the isle and the Macdonalds driven out. The northern lands of Jura were still Maclean, we didnee get on too well with these savages, two big battles are known to have taken place; both 1647, Barnhill and Glen Garrisdale, all the hero’s of clan Maclean were killed, for years after there was a skull at the glen locally known as Maclean’s skull. In 1690 John Campbell (surname means crooked mouth by the way, very apt) took action against our hero’s , with constant eruptions between the two clans the Maclean’s were forced out but not before selling (canny chief) their lands to Donald McNeill of Colonsay. This 30 mile long and seven mile wide island is surrounded by the wild waters of the Atlantic, home to serene bays, seals and sea eagles. The Corryvreckan, a giant whirlpool at the north tip off the isle, the Royal Navy considers it to be one of the most treacherous stretches of water in the British Isles. Jura’s only village Craighouse is where the distillery is located. The isle is some two hundred people strong (last counted), in previous centuries there were as many as a thousand.
Here is a wee tale; a story goes, of an old woman, told prophecies, she saw the departure from the island of the Campbell chief. The last Campbell would have one eye and that all he owned would fit on a cart, drawn by a white horse. In 1938 Charles Campbell had one glass eye, all his goods were taken to the pier by a cart and white horse. Justice!!! There is an alternative ending, rather than a horse, it was a white car – horsepower. Which leads me nicely into the whisky! Jura Distillery; Founded in 1810, it collapsed at the end of the 19th century and fell into ruin. Despite this and the two World Wars, the Diurach spirit remained. In 1963, it was rebuilt to help revive the small island community. Jura Prophecy (whisky) heavily peated with a sweet and spicy finish. It’s said that centuries ago, an old seer prophesied that the last Campbell to leave the island would be penniless. In 1938, this came to be. To mark the legend, the seer’s symbol watches over every bottle. See? Told you so. Today you get to Jura from Port Askaig, although there are wee ferry companies who will take you from the mainland (no cars). Last time I was there, some wealthy Aussie was building a golf course and posh digs, will be there again pretty soon to be sure. PAUL MCLEAN