1,000 Years of History on the May

Friday 19th May comments: As part of county of Fife’s ‘Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology’ the Isle of May is celebrating its past in glorious fashion. An exhibition has been installed in the main lighthouse featuring artifacts excavated in the 1990s and tells the story of the island as a focus for Christian pilgrimage for a thousand years, beginning in the 5th century AD.

The exhibition is a joint venture between Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the National Museums Scotland and entry to the island, lighthouse and exhibition is all free although boat fares apply (see below). The exhibition will be open at weekends (Starting 20th May) throughout the summer months and daily from 1st August as part of the lighthouse opening hours.

Peter Yeoman, consultant archaeologist said, ‘This is the first time that the fascinating objects from the May island monastery have ever been displayed. The excavations uncovered remarkable evidence relating to 1000 years of Christian community on this small island at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, including some of the oldest church buildings ever found in Scotland. Leading historian Dr James Fraser described the place as “St Andrews before St Andrews”. One of the key discoveries was the remains of a pilgrim buried around 1300, with a scallop shell from Santiago de Compostela in Spain placed in his mouth.’

David Steel, SNH’s manager on the island said, ‘We are delighted to be marking the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology here on the wonderful Isle of May. As well as its spectacular wildlife, the island has a rich cultural history.  This exhibition will give a fascinating insight into the lives of the monks who worshipped here.’

 How to get to the Island:

Boats sail daily (weather dependant) and please check out the websites below for further details of sailing and prices

May Princess (sails from Anstruther): www.isleofmayferry.com

Osprey Rib (sails from Anstruther): www.isleofmayboattrips.co.uk

Seabird Rib (Sails from North Berwick): www.seabird.org

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