Last ice sheets start to melt. Climate warms, soil begins to form and vegetation slowly begins to take hold.
c. 8 500 BP
Mesolithic – middle stone age – settlement located at the edge of Kinloch on the north shore of Loch Scresort.
Discovered by Caroline Wickham-Jones during the 1984-86 archaeological dig for Historic Scotland. This has been identified as one of the earliest human settlement site in Scotland. Over 100 000 artefacts were found at this site implying that it was used on and off over a thousand years.
One reason that inhospitable Rum was visited by the largely nomadic populations of the time is because of bloodstone, also called chalcedony. Bloodstone is found in a variety of forms and it is the green with red ’spots’ from where it derives it’s more common name. During the Stone Ages, this stone was used for making tools as a replacement for flint which occurs rarely in the Hebrides. Flakes of bloodstone have been found from Torridon to Ardnamurchan as well as locally in the Small Isles. Nomads would visit Bloodstone Hill in the west of Rum to mine this valuable commodity. More information is available on the excavations and Small Isles arcaeology at www.rcahms.gov.uk
8 000 BP
Rum mostly heath and grasses. Birch and hazel dominating, with Alder very much established in wetter regions.
6 500 BP
Oak establishing in the drier zones. Alder still dominating wetter areas.
7 000 – 5 000 BP
Less human activity recorded.
4 700 BP
Scrub cleared for cultivation by New Stone Age man. Climate wetter and tree cover across island largely replaced by blanket bog.
3 000 BP
Natural vegetation cover of Rum roughly reaching its present state. Good areas intensely cultivated. Much woodland remains until the late 18th century.
c. 3 000 BP
Bronze Age relics such as cairns at Guirdhil and Harris and forts at Kilmory and Shellesder suggest Rum's inhabitants were of a more permanent nature. It was however, a more unsettled period in the history of the Hebrides.
Romans pushed North through Europe.
Greek Ptolemy drew the first known Scottish map.
The word ‘Picti’ first appears in Roman accounts. The small population of Rum are most likely to have been Picts, groups of people with a strong Celtic influence and a mutual dislike of the Romans.
Vikings appear in the Hebrides.
Beccan of Rum a hermit monk likely to have lived in Papadil ‘the dale of the priests’.
600 – 700 AD
The earliest known historical reference to Rum. Early Christian influence found here on the island as indicated by the crosses found at Cave’s Bay (Bagh na h-Uamha) and the Kilmory burial ground.
Vikings raid both Pictland and Dalridia until all lands become united by Kenneth Mac Alpin.
Somerled of Argyll repeatedly attacks the Norselands gaining him control of the Southern Hebrides. On his death, his lands were passed on through the generations and through the MacRuari’s who continued loyal to the Norse.
Treaty of Perth. All of the Hebrides and the Isle of Man were ceded from Norway to Scotland.
Angus Og, a direct descendent of Somerled was rewarded for his loyalty in the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) and was given land in the west highlands and islands. His son declared himself Lord of the Isles and in turn his son, Ranald (Clanranald chieftain) inherited lands including Rum and Eigg. Rum had few inhabitants at this time.
John Garbh son of a chief of the Macleans of Duart on Mull demanded an inheritance from the 3rd Lord of the Isles – he received the island of Coll. Legend has it that he gained Rum from Clanranald for the price of a good-looking, but rotten galley. He then held Clanranald prisoner on Coll until the dispute was resolved in his favour.
Here followed a period of intense feudal activity where the few people on these islands including Rum, would have been ransacked and ravaged many times by the warring clans.
c. 1580 AD
King James VI quelled the violence in the Hebrides and set out to have all lands surveyed. Rum at this time only had two settlements with few inhabitants. In its favour, Rum was observed to have a good population of deer.
The Statutes of Iona were signed by nine Hebridean chiefs. These chiefs pledged allegiance to the Monarch and Episcopalian Church. These Statutes included ban on the import of wine and spirits, prohibiting the use of firearms and for the first time a limit was imposed on the size of households; any man with a herd of >60 cows had to send his eldest son to be educated in the ‘Protestant Lowlands’.
The Privy Council legislated that sons would lose their right to inherit lands unless they were able to speak, read and write in English.
Although these rules were not easy to enforce in the Highlands and Islands, for many it is seen to be the beginning of the end of the Gaelic language and the time when the void between chiefs and their tenants started to grow.
Reports of 152 people living on Rum over 5 years of age.
c. 1760 AD
The humble potato is first introduced to the Highlands.
Deer become extinct on Rum.
The population of Rum reached its peak of 443 as the Hebrides enjoyed the end of clan warfare and made good use of the productive potato. Increased pressure on the land meant that there were already some voluntary emigrations taking place.
The tenants of Rum are in severe rent arrears to their landlord Maclean of Coll, who himself was in dire financial straits after buying the island of Muck. The Macleans’ leased Rum to Dr Lachlan Maclean (a relation from Coll) as a sheep-walk. All available land would be required to graze the 8 000 head of sheep.
Highland Clearances 300 men, women and children were removed from Rum to Nova Scotia, leaving 50 people on the island.
The remaining 50 people were shipped to the New World, leaving one family of direct Maclean descent. Needing shepherds to look after to look after his sheep, Dr Maclean managed to divert twelve families being cleared from Skye and Mull. Some built houses at Port na Caranean on the south side of Loch Scresort.
Rum population 134.
Price of mutton falls dramatically and the sheep enterprise is over. Dr Maclean leaves Rum.
Rum put up for sale by 16th and last Maclean of Coll. Rum bought by 2nd Marquis of Salisbury hoping to transform Rum into a Victorian Highland sporting estate. 5 000 sheep still grazing Rum and shepherds bothies built around the island. Fallow and Red deer introduced. Red deer numbers grew quickly as more red deer were introduced from both Scottish and English estates.
c. 1850 AD
Port na Caranean settlement abandoned as those families moved into Kinloch a settlement of c. 40 people.
Rum passed to Viscount Cranborne, 2nd Marquis’ son.
A further 55 inhabitants emigrate to Canada.
Cranborne leases Rum to Captain Campbell from Islay.
Rum sold to Farquhar Campbell of Aros who built the White House as a shooting lodge.
Shooting let to John Bullough. Rum population nearly 90.
Farquhar Campbell dies and Rum is inherited by his cousin.
James Hunter Campbell decides to sell Rum.
Rum purchased by John Bullough as a private holiday retreat and enters a golden age of opulence. John Bullough re-establishes the stud of the native Rum pony.
3 000 sheep still farmed on Rum, with shepherds and their families living at Kilmory, Guirdhil, Harris and Dibidil.
Kinloch Castle built as a grand hunting lodge by George Bullough when he inherited the island after his father’s death. Completed in 1902 unique by fact that it was the only place outside Glasgow that had electricity – and hydroelectric at that. Only used for a few weeks every year during the stalking season.
During this time Rum gained its reputation as the ‘Forbidden Island’. Landing by casual visitors was very much discouraged. World War One and the Great Depression of the 1920’s struck the Bullough’s hard and things were never the same again. No more exclusive deer stalking trips to Rum for the elite.
Sir George Bullough dies and is buried alongside his father in the mausoleum at Harris.
Rum sold to the Nature Conservancy for £23 000 ‘to be used as a nature reserve in perpetuity and Kinloch Castle maintained as far as may be practical’ and became the National Nature Reserve that we know today. There was to be no more sheep grazing and the island was to be allowed to revert to its natural state.
For more on the recent history of Rum since it was sold to the Nature Conservancy until present, have a look at the Recent History page.
For info about books and resources, please visit our Further Reading section