A brief History of the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Mull History

Mull has been inhabited since around 6000 BC. Bronze Age inhabitants built menhirs, brochs and a stone circle.

In the 14th century Mull became part of the Lordship of the Isles. After the collapse of the Lordship in 1493 the island was taken over by the clan MacLean, and in 1681 by the clan Campbell.

In 1588 one of the ships of the Spanish Armada, Florenica, was moored in Tobermory Bay and blown up there, reputedly with £300,000 of gold bullion on board.

During the Highland Clearances in the 18th and 19th centuries, the population fell from 10,000 to less than 4000.


Mull was created as we see it today after one of the biggest bangs in history.  The explosion, and subsequent erosion by glaciers, has formed the magnificent Glen More.  Ben More stands on the edge of the crater and is climbed regularly by walkers completing the 'Monroes' set.  Ben More is traditionally the last Monro to be climbed.


Mull and its islands have been continually inhabited since they became environments able to support man after the Ice Age. C. 6500 - 3500 BC. Mesolithic hunter-gatherers lived in caves such as Livingston's cave on Ulva. C. 4000 - 2000 BC Neolithic farmers people lived here leaving behind burial cairns and stone axes. C. 2500 - 600 BC.

Bronze age 'Beaker' people lived on Mull, their burial cairns, cists, standing stones, stone circles, and corded beaker pottery and knife blades record their existence. C. 600 BC - c. AD 400 Iron Age peoples built forts, brochs, duns, and crannogs, - numerous defensive settlements on these islands.

The early Christian period began in the 5th Century, with 563 noted for the arrival from Ireland of St Columba.

Viking times started in 795 when Iona was first sacked, raids continuing for several centuries. Vikings eventually became settlers in the isles.

The Middle Ages saw the construction of castles such as Moy and Duart, and chapels such as Pennygown. The clans were, Maclean, MacLaine, MacKinnon, Macquarrie, and MacDonald. During the 17th to 19th centuries, clan chiefs and other lairds built 'big' houses, whilst the majority of islanders lived in tiny black houses in small townships, occupying shielings in the summer months.


In 1788 Tobermory was built by the British Fisheries Society, as a planned settlement. Over the centuries Mull's population increased to 10,638 in 1831 but first the Potato Famine and then the Clearances rapidly reduced this number.

By the 20th Century much of the population had emigrated and there were more sheep on Mull than people.