Centre sheds light on sea kingdom (UK)

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They ruled a vast swathe of Scotland for almost two centuries but their role in helping to forge the nation has been largely forgotten - until now.

On Saturday a new visitor centre celebrating the Lords of the Isles opens on Islay, which also allows people access to the island in Finlaggan Loch which was the seat of their power. The Ri Innse Gall - Lord of the Isles - held sway over a sea kingdom which encompassed all of the Hebrides and much of the northern mainland.

The Clan Donald Lords also had strong links with the Isle of Man, Ireland and the Northern Isles.

Their hold on power during most of the 14th and 15th centuries was based on their seagoing prowess. With both Gaelic and Norse roots, their boats were an adaptation of Viking galleys and allowed easy transport and communications throughout their domain.

The islands of Finlaggan Loch were the centre of administration, where both justice and hospitality were dispensed. The ruins of many of the buildings can still be seen today. Built from stone and slate the Great Hall would have been an impressive building for its time.

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