Steven Mithen journeys around Islay to historic sites and monuments to tell the story of its people, from the earliest Stone Age hunter-gatherers to those who lived in townships and in the grandeur of Islay House. 

Steven visits the tombs of Neolithic farmers, forts of Iron Age chiefs and castles of medieval warlords. He discovers where Bronze Age gold was found and treacherous plots were made against the Scottish crown. Steven also explores the island of today, which was forged more recently by those who mined for lead, grew flax, fished for herring and distilled whisky – the industry for which Islay is now best known. Although an island history, this is far from an insular story: Islay has always been at a cultural crossroads, receiving a constant influx of new people and new ideas, making it a microcosm for the story of Scotland, Britain and beyond. Based on the latest historical and archaeological research, as well as deep personal experience of Islay, this is an accessible and unique view of the island and its people by one of Britain’s most respected archaeologists.

The Scotsman Review (11 November 2021): 

Joyce MacMillian writes:

What Mithen has produced… is not only a mighty guide to the archaeological landscape of Islay, but a thrilling microcosm of human history, captured through the story of one small island. And if love for Islay’s land and people vibrates through every page of this remarkable book, then behind it there also lies something deeper; a profound concern for humanity as a whole, and a kind of prayer that despite the depth of our current crisis, the story of human survival and development told here will somehow continue, on Islay, and across the world.

To read the entire review click on The Scotsman review of the Land of the Ilich book