Scandinavian Studies

ÌLE: Islay Life Explorer

The ÌLE project aims to present thematically layered data free of charge to academic and non-academic users via a comprehensive web site and a simplified smartphone application.

This data will be drawn from a variety of hitherto uncollated sources, including the place-name, economic and cartographic material underpinning Dr Alan Macniven’s research on the Vikings in Islay, the content of Roger McWee’s Islay Cultural Database, and material from the Scottish Studies archive. It will also link to information currently available via HES’ CANMORE repository, and the Edina hosted Kist of Riches / Tobar na Dualchais collection.

The web site will be map-based, equipped with dedicated search engines, a media player and a family tree maker. The mobile application will further benefit from a GPS-enabled graphical overlay, highlighting clickable data in the immediate vicinity of users. This unique combination and presentation of data-sets, employing new computing and cartographic technologies will have potential to feed into other projects, eg. in demonstrating the extent and nature of the Viking impact on Islay.

Both the website and the mobile app will also include a facility for users to suggest updates and amendments, which, pending moderation, will then be added to the research infrastructure.

Anticipated user groups include:

  • Islay residents and tourists - who will be able to use the smartphone app. in situ to access information on local place-names, historical events and archaeology.
  • Teachers, specifically at Islay High School and its 3 feeder primary schools on the island, along with leaders of evening classes for adults at Ionad Chaluim Cille Ìle (The Columba Centre), also in Bowmore, will be able to retrieve information from the dedicated search engines on the web-site covering a given radius from the school, for use in project work and local excursions, to make history teaching more relevant and alive. 
  • Archaeologists researching West-Highland prehistory will be able to query the research portal for information about finds, their distribution and context, all of which can additionally be cross-referenced with local place-names.
  • Anyone with family links to the island will be able to explore their family history, through the included genealogical database, search engine and family tree creator.

The initial stages of the ÌLE project have been made possible by a grant from the LLC Impact Fund.

Enquiries regarding potential collaboration should be directed to Dr Alan Macniven (

Concept sketch number 1 for the Islay Life Explorer user interface


Concept sketch number 2 for the Islay Life Explorer user interface