The Colonsay Bookshop is prominently located at Scalasaig, close to the Ferry Terminal and conveniently adjacent to the Colonsay Brewery; our bookshop shares the building with our publishing business, House of Lochar, which has its own website. The Colonsay Bookshop stocks a wide variety of books of Scottish interest, including antiquarian works, and it also offers a carefully chosen range of gifts and jewellery; the shop is open daily April through October from 3.00 p.m. until 5.30 p.m. (except Sundays) and also at all times of year by arrangement - just call 01951 200320.

We stock books by a very wide range of publishers and with special sections devoted to Natural History, Scottish Literature and Children's Interest, and of course we stock everything of immediate relevance to Colonsay itself. This page is devoted to a selection of such publications, which will be of especial interest to the visitor. If you cannot actually get to Colonsay please get in touch, we will happily mail your purchase to any destination at cost plus postage. Contact byrne[at]colonsay.eu

The following books might be of interest and appear in no particular order; for fuller details please click the title to see the expanded description but - best of all - please call at our bookshop and inspect them for yourself. We value your custom and look forward to your visit.

Title Publisher Brief description Price
Ordnance Survey Map 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey Essential, 4cm to 1km, 2.5" to 1 mile
£ 8.99
Exploring Colonsay House of Lochar Very basic, 28 pp booklet, No.11 in "West Highland Series"
Colonsay, One of the Hebrides House of Lochar Facsimile of 1910 edition, sourcebook for placenames, plants, birds, fish
Lonely Colonsay, Island at the Edge House of Lochar Guidebook with detailed topgraphical and historical information
Colonsay's Fallen House of Lochar Biographical information on persons commemorated for WWI and WWII
The Baptist Church in Colonsay House of Lochar Describes development and history 1812 - 2012
Place-names of Colonsay & Oronsay S.N.H. Well-illustrated bi-lingual notes on interesting local place-names
The Birds of Colonsay & Oronsay House of Lochar 48 pp booklet packed with general information on local birdlife
The Birds of Colonsay & Oronsay Argyll Bird Club Definitive 384 pp magnificent tome describing every local species
Wild Island, A Year in the Hebrides Birlinn Beautiful book by wildlife artist who lived and worked with RSPB in Oronsay
The Potter's Tale Birlinn Dion Alexander's enchanting memories of Colonsay in the 1970s
Dileab Cholbhasach Acair "A Colonsay Legacy", bilingual essays on post-war Colonsay by local scholar
The Crofter and the Laird House of Lochar Pulitzer-prize winning author from USA; his account of life in Colonsay in 1970s
Colonsay - Elements of an Island House of Lochar Inspirational photo-essay by distinguished photographer Brian Hindmarch
Guide to Geology of Colonsay House of Lochar 7 pp, A4, photocopied document sold in aid of local church funds
Colonsay and Oronsay Parish Church Parish Church 4 pp, A5 printed descriptive leaflet sold in aid of church funds
Some Archaeological Sites in Colonsay C.C.D.C. Illustrated leaflet with map by Colonsay Community Development Company


  The Ordnance Survey map is the definitive one. You can download maps or you can obtain free tourist maps locally on arrival in Colonsay, but nothing is a substitute for an authentic O.S. map. The Ordnance Survey has been mapping Colonsay since 1880 and the detail is extraordinary - particularly useful for countour detail, land use and boundaries, and for placenames. The only obvious error is the transposition of Meall an Arbhair with Port a' Chrochaire, and the only annoyance is the inclusion of an expanse of featureless sea, coloured plain blue and comprising half the sheet! £8.99












  This little booklet has been popular for many years, part of a series for ramblers that covers most of Argyll. It includes details of 8 walks, mostly of just two or three hours duration, and it would encourage you to see most of the island. The directions are very straightforward and the text includes snippets of background information. £3.50










  This is an invaluable book for anyone with more than passing interest in natural history as the author, a native of Colonsay, was employed at Kew and was an accomplished botanist. His book begins with a fascinating and timeless "General Description" of the island, which includes a great deal of traditional information, and then moves via Climate and Geological Formation to an account of Woods, Locha and Pastures. The final section consists of 120 pages devoted to the flora, including gaelic names and traditional uses where known. Brilliant. £8.99











  To declare an interest, Kevin Byrne wrote this one himself. It is laid out by area and, to quote the blurb: "In addition to a brief social history of each farm, all major and minor monuments are described, together with a detailed account of suggested routes for walkers. Read a chapter first, then walk it next day." This is a fairly comprehensive guide - it would be something of a challenge to see the whole island within anything less than a week, but at least this guide might make it possible. £17.50











  Written and researched by military historian Alan Davis, this book was produced in a limited edition, funded by the subscribers. It gives biographical details of everyone recorded on the Colonsay War Memorial, also all those from elsewhere whose mortal remains came to shore in Colonsay or Oronsay. It is a testament to the futility of war. This book will be treasured in years to come and, as publishers, we are immensely proud of it. In August 2017, only 7 copies remained, all of the hardbound edition. £20.00










 The Baptist Church played a fascinating and honoured role in the life of Colonsay since its foundation by Rev. Dugald Sinclair in 1812. At its centenary a history was written by John McNeill, which was for long out of print; to mark the bi-centenary it was republished, together with a further history written by the late Eleanor McNeill (Machrins Farm). It was published in an edition limited to 200 copies, funded by the subscribers. This little work (46 pp) will inevitably become a family heirloom. £10.00











 Published pro bono publico by Scottish Natural Heritage, this beautifully illustrated work by Dr. Jacon King and Eilidh Scammell is a fine introduction to the islands. The text is bi-lingual and gives a commentary upon many of the less well-known placenames, associating them with the political, geographical and cultural aspects of the island development. Free of charge







  Researched and written in 2002 by David Jardine, who has a lifetime's knowledge of Colonsay's birdlife. It describes the status of birds under generic headings e.g. Suggested "Hotspots", Herons, Geese, Birds of Prey, Seabirds, Farming & Birds etc., and includes fascinating statistics and information reflecting the effects of changing land-use. Invaluable. £5.99











 State of the art, a magnificent piece of work, the result of many years of practical study and research by joint- authors David C. Jardine, Mike A. Peacock and Ian A. Fisher. Actually, 75 years of combined and detailed work in Colonsay, resulting in the definitive work, first published in 2017, and dealing in detail with all the island species. There are numerous graphs and distribution maps, and the whole work is heavily illustrated by full-colour photograps taken by the authors. Absolutely essential for every house in the island, and for every regular visiting ornithologist. How on earth was this published for only £25.00?









  A really beautiful book. From the blurb: "In painting and words, this book portays a year in the life of Oronsay... Jane Smith describes her encounters with birds and animals, both wild and domesticated, and the human inhabitants of the island who look after them... Her vibrant artwork unforgettably evokes the beauty and variety of nature in this part of the world." Purchasers of the book might like to know that some of Jane's artwork can be purchased at the Old Waiting Room Gallery, beside the pier. £20.00







 Di Alexander was the Colonsay Potter through the 1970s, before mains electricity or water, before the current wave of social housing, and whilst there were only three ferries a week. Di became immersed in the social and cultural life of the island; he learned Gaelic, the language of the hearth, and he spent many congenial hours in the company of wonderful people. His book captures the warmth, humour, love and kindness of those days. £9.99










  This book consists of a series of essays by the late Barbara Satchel, collected and edited by her daughter Morag Law. It is of great value in providing vignettes of life in Colonsay as seen by a native and gifted observer, and that value is enhanced by the fact that Barbara was writing in the Gaelic that is (or was) specific to Colonsay. Sadly, few native speakers preserve that language now, so Morag has created a bilingual text which can be enjoyed by one and all. As time goes by, this book will develop a very special value to all those persons who can claim an ancestral connection with the island and it will always be important to those who are interested in Colonsay after WWII. £6.00









  The author, John McPhee, is a Pulitzer prize-winning author of international reknown who, in 1969, brought his family to live for a time in Colonsay, the ancestral isle. He rented a cottage from Donald and Maggie "Gibbie" MacNeill and, being a staff writer on "The New Yorker" at the time, he published his work in a series of articles. "A work of literary genius... not a traveller's tale, nor is it a study of the history or topography of an island; it is instead a perfect mirror of the interactions and relationships of a living and coherent community." Hard to think that that was half-a-century ago, well before mains electricity or water, or the linkspan, the air-service, mobile phones or "social media". £8.99










  Just 44 pp long, but very powerful. In "Colonsay - elements of an island" Brian Hindmarch set himself a challenge; this is no collection of postcard views or chocolate-box images. Instead: "The weathering of rocks, tidal change, beaches, waves, islets, bird migration, lochs, streams, woods, glens and gardens, reveal the "essence" and aesthetic nature of Colonsay". Thumb through the display copy! £6.95




 As a young postgraduate working in Colonsay, Alex Maltman kindly produced these notes to the Geology of Colonsay in a form that would be of value to the casual reader, and they have stood the test of time. He is now Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Wales and widely published, but his orginal notes remain very useful and have not been overtaken locally by any other publication. By his original wish more than thirty years ago, any proceeds are put towards the Church Fabric Fund. £2.00









  The Parish Church is used by the entire community and is significant to the countless descendants of Colonsay emigrants; hundreds of people visit it each year and this little leaflet was produced to provide a little background information. Hopefully, it will in due course be supplemented by a more comprehensive history, currently in preparation. Copies of the leaflet are also available in the church itself, with proceeds going to the Fabric Fund. Suggested minimum donation £1.00










 A neat little brochure, 8 x A5 folded, heavily illustrated and with a useful map, which describes seven readily-accessible archaeological sites in Colonsay. It was produced by Colonsay Community Development Company in 2007, with support by various agencies. Copies are available in various locations, suggested price £1.00