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Gaelic nameAbout this soundCearara 
Norse nameKjarbarey
Meaning of nameNorse for 'Kjarbar's island' or possibly 'copse island'
Gylen Castle
Gylen Castle
Kerrera is located in Argyll and Bute
Kerrera shown within Argyll and Bute
OS grid referenceNM813281
Coordinates56°24′N 5°32′W / 56.4°N 5.53°W / 56.4; -5.53
Physical geography
Island groupMull
Area1,214 hectares (4.7 sq mi)
Area rank44 [1]
Highest elevationCarn Breugach 189 metres (620 ft)
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Council areaArgyll and Bute
Population rank57 [1]
Population density2.8 people/km2[2][3]
Largest settlementBailiemore
Viewed from McCaig's tower, the island of Kerrera can be seen lying a short distance across Oban Bay.
A view of Kerrera from Oban.

Kerrera (/ˈkɛrərə/; Scottish Gaelic: Cearara[7] or Cearrara[4]) is an island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides, close to the town of Oban. In 2016 it had a population of 45 divided into two communities in the north and south of the island.[8]

The island is around 7 km (4 mi) long and around 2 km (1 14 mi) wide, and is separated from the mainland by the Sound of Kerrera, about 500 m (14 mi) wide. The island is linked to the mainland by two ferry services. In the middle of the island, the Caledonian MacBrayne passenger ferry MV Carvoria operates from the Gallanach Road (about 3 km (2 mi) southwest of Oban). From the landing place, tracks lead to the scattered settlements in the centre and south of the island. The northern tip of the island can be accessed by a separate ferry service operating from North Pier in the centre of Oban. The service runs to a bay near Ardentrive Farm,[8] which is linked by a track to the rest of the island.

The island is known for the ruined Gylen Castle, a small tower house built in 1582. It was also the place where Alexander II of Scotland died in 1249. The highest point on Kerrera is Carn Breugach at 189 m (620 ft). Most of the island is owned by the McDougalls of Dunollie, who are descended from the Norse-Gael Somerled. The four-acre (1.6 ha) tidal island at the north-east tip of Kerrera, Rubh a' Chruidh, was sold for £426,000 in 2010 to Lanarkshire businessman David Hamilton.[9] who built an American beach style three bedroom house and a helipad on the island.[10]

The artist J. M. W. Turner visited Kerrera in 1831 and made 25 sketches of the castle[11] which are in the Tate Gallery, London.[12]

The main industries on the island are farming (sheep and Highland cattle) and tourism. There was an exotic bird sanctuary but it is now closed (2017). There is a tea room/café at the south end near Gylen Castle[12] but (in 2016) no metalled roads, no store and no pub.[8] The castle itself was restored to some extent in 2006 and is open to the public.[13]


Kerrera viewed from McCaig's Tower in Oban. A line of passengers boarding the North Kerrera ferry service can be seen on the slip way at the North Pier.
Landscape of the south of the island, showing Gylen Castle


  1. ^ a b Area and population ranks: there are c. 300 islands over 20 ha in extent and 93 permanently inhabited islands were listed in the 2011 census.
  2. ^ a b National Records of Scotland (15 August 2013) (pdf) Statistical Bulletin: 2011 Census: First Results on Population and Household Estimates for Scotland - Release 1C (Part Two). "Appendix 2: Population and households on Scotland’s inhabited islands". Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7.
  4. ^ a b Mac an Tàilleir, Iain (2003) Ainmean-àite/Placenames. (pdf) Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  5. ^ Ordnance Survey. OS Maps Online (Map). 1:25,000. Leisure.
  6. ^ Anderson, Joseph (ed.) (1873) The Orkneyinga Saga. Translated by Jón A. Hjaltalin & Gilbert Goudie. Edinburgh. Edmonston and Douglas. The Internet Archive. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  7. ^ "Gaelic Place-Names of Scotland database". Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  8. ^ a b c Humphries, Will (2016-12-14). "Divided island seeks funds for first road". The Times. Retrieved 2016-12-14.
  9. ^ Moira Kerr (15 February 2010). "Scottish island Rubh'a Chruidh sells for £426,000". The Scotsman. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  10. ^ "Now you could own an island… for less than a London studio flat". Mail Online. 2016-04-14. Retrieved 2016-12-14.
  11. ^ Ardill, Thomas (2012-12-01). "Gylen Castle, Kerrera and the Firth of Lorn from the North 1831 by Joseph Mallord William Turner". Tate. J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours.
  12. ^ a b McLennan, Louisa (2013-06-19). "Scotland to a tea: Kerrera Tea Garden". The Herald. Retrieved 2016-12-14.
  13. ^ "Castle reopens after restoration". News, UK, Scotland, Glasgow and West. BBC. 2006-05-12. Retrieved 2016-12-14.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 56°24′N 5°32′W / 56.400°N 5.533°W / 56.400; -5.533