Inchcolm ABO EO NT189827 1 394 0m
(church of) Sancti Columbe de Insula 1162 x 1169 Inchcolm Chrs. no. 1 [15th c. copy]
Insula Emonia 1162 x 1169 Inchcolm Chrs. no. 1 [15th c. copy]
(church of) Sancti Columbe de Insula c.1220 Inchcolm Chrs. no. 12 [o.c.]
Sancto Columbe de Insula Emonia 1256 Inchcolm Chrs. no. 23 [15th c. copy; in both the 1420 and the 1423 Transumpt; charter of the chapter of Dunkeld]
Insula Sancte [sic] Columbe 1264 Scone Lib. no. 110 [day after Ash Wednesday, charter issued there by Bishop Richard of Dunkeld]
Colmeshynche 1330 Fraser 1966 no. 172 [Newminster Abbey claimed that Edward I had granted them ‘Inchcolm in Scotland’ (Colmeshynche en Escoce) by charter, worth more than £200 per annum]
(church of) Sancti Columbe de Insula Emonia 1421 Inchcolm Chrs. no. 44 [first occurrence of Emonia since no. 23 (1256)]
(canon of) Insule Sancte [sic] Columbe 1419 CSSR i, 21 [Donald of Dunfermline canon of St Columba’s Island is provided to the abbacy of Inchaffray (Insule Missarum)]
(abbacy of the monastery of) Sancti Columbe de Insula 1420 CSSR i, 189
(abbot and convent of) insule Sancti Columbe de Imonia 1420 CSSR i, 195
(abbot and convent of) Sancti Columbe de Emonia 1420 CSSR i, 212
(Walter Boumaker abbot) de Insula Sancti Columbi 1420 CSSR i, 232
(of the monastery of) Sancti Columbe in Insula Eumonia 1441 RMS ii no. 268 [lands granted and confirmed to Abbot Walter and the Convent, following raids by English pirates; Inchcolm Chrs. no. 51 is another version of this charter, which has (of the monastery of) Sancti Columbe de Insula Emonia]
<insula> ... que vocatur Emonia 1440s Bower Scotichron. Bk. 1, ch. 6 (vol. 1, p. 16) [see next entry; this form occurs six times in Bower Scotichron.]
insula Sancti Columbe 1440s Bower Scotichron. Bk. 1, ch. 6 (vol. 1, p. 16) [the full text reads: <insula> ... que vocatur Emonia inter Edenburgh et Inverkethine, in qua est monasterium Canonicorum Nigrorum Sancti Augustini Ordinis wlgariter insula Sancti Columbe vocatur (<the island> ... which is called Emonia, between Edinburgh and Inverkeithing, in which is the monastery of the Black Canons of the Order of Saint Augustine commonly called the island of St Columba); this form occurs four times in Bower Scotichron.]
Insula Emonia 1440s Bower Scotichron. Bk. 5, ch. 36 (vol. 3, p. 107) [the monastery of the canons of the island of Emonia, beside Inverkethin, concerning Alexander I’s foundations; this form occurs six time in Bower Scotichron.]
(monastery of) Sancti Columbe de Insula Emonia 1440s Bower Scotichron. Bk. 5, ch. 37 (vol. 3, p. 111) [juxta Edenburgh; CA has Inverkethine; this form occurs three times in Bower Scotichron.]
Emon 1440s Bower Scotichron. Bk. 5, ch. 37 (vol. 3, p. 111) [this form is in a poem]
prior Sancti Columbe 1440s Bower Scotichron. Bk. 8, ch. 75 (vol. 4, p. 464) [Walter, prior of Saint Columba’s; this form occurs four times in Bower Scotichron., all referring to the jurisdiction of prior, sub-prior or abbot]
Insula Sancti Columbe de Emonia 1440s Bower Scotichron. Bk. 9, ch. 52 (vol. 5, p. 159) [Bishop Gilbert of Dunkeld died in 1236 and was buried ‘on the Island of Saint Columba of Emonia’]
(church of) Sancti Columbe de Emonia 1440s Bower Scotichron. Bk. 10, ch. 20 (vol. 5, p. 357) [Bishop Richard of Dunkeld built a new choir (novum chorum) there in 1266]
Emonia insula 1440s Bower, Scotichron. Bk. 12, ch. 34 (vol. 6, p. 406) [tiny barnacle geese seen adhering to seaweed there]
Insulam monasterialem Sancti Columbe de Emonia 1440s Bower, Scotichron. Bk. 14, ch. 45 (vol. 7, p. 398) [armed men loot the monastery island of St Columba of Emonia in 1384]
insula Emonia Sancti Columbe 1440s Bower, Scotichron. Bk. 16, ch. 16 (vol. 8, p. 262) [Euphemia countess of Ross sent into custody on Inchcolm in 1429]
Saynt Colmis Inche 1440s Scotichron. CA Abbreviation [cited Scotichron. vol. 1, p. 99: ‘Emonia ... is commonly called St Colm’s Inch’ (Emonia ... Saynt Colmis Inche vulgariter nuncupatur)]
monasteri<um> Insule S. Columbe de Emonia 1480 RMS ii no. 1455
Sanct Columbis Inche 1531 Bellenden Chronicles ii, Bk. 12, ch. 2
Sanctcolmisinsche 1559 Inchcolm Chrs. no. 69
monasteri<um> S . Columbe in insula Eimonia 1568 RMS iv no. 1828
Inchcolme 1583 Nicolay Chart
insula divi Columbae 1602 Retours (Fife) no. 119
inche de Sanct Colme 1642 Retours (Fife) no. 629
S Colms Inch 1642 Gordon MS Fife
S Colms Inche 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
St. Columbs Inch 1654 Blaeu (Pont) West Fife
Insula lie Insch de St. Colme 1668 Retours (Fife) no. 1030
St Colme’s Inch 1872 Sasines no. 1544 [‘Monastery, Mansion and Manor Place of St Colme’s Inch’]
the Island of St Colme 1872 Sasines no. 1544
G innis + G Colum
‘The island of Columba’, G Innis Choluim. Bower’s Scotichron. contains several different forms of the name, some used several times. The above list cites only one occurrence (the first) of each form that Bower uses.
The earliest records of this place-name date from the twelfth century, but the name and the church may pre-exist the records by many centuries. The fifteenth century account of the foundation legend of the priory (later abbey) states that when it was founded in the twelfth century there was already a chapel on the island and a hermit dedicated to Saint Columba (Bk. 5, ch. 37 (vol. 3, p. 110)). The archaeology of the island also suggests the presence of a church community there before the Augustinian foundation of 1123, with a tenth- or eleventh-century Scandinavian style ‘hog-back’ tombstone, a fragment of an early medieval carved stone cross, and a ‘hermit’s cell’ which seems to have pre-Augustinian origins, though it has been substantially rebuilt.
The dedication of the island and the fact that it was in a detached parish of Dunkeld diocese, the church to which St Columba’s relics were translated in 849 AD, suggest an early connection to the cathedral church, but the Columban dedication may predate even that. Bower’s claim that three thirteenth-century bishops of Dunkeld chose to be buried on Columba’s Island, and that another chose to have his heart buried there, rather than in their own cathedral indicates that Inchcolm was regarded as a place of great sanctity, perhaps because it was seen as having closer and more ancient links to the saint.
If the name Inchcolm is relatively straightforward, rather more puzzling is Emonia. This name is frequently given to the island by Abbot Walter Bower and other late medieval writers, of which several instances are listed above. It occurs in a charter of c.1162 × 1169 (Inchcolm Chrs. no. 1), but this exists only in a fifteenth-century copy, and so cannot be completely relied on as an earlier attestation of the name. Other than this, the earliest surviving uses of Emonia (also Eumonia, Imonia, Eimonia) for the island occur in the fifteenth century.
Watson (1926, 103–5, 131) discusses Emonia in the context of Manau, the name of a tribal territory some distance to the west of Inchcolm, but Márkus has shown the difficulties with the suggestion that there is a connection between these two names, and has suggested that the name Emonia applied to Inchcolm may have the OIr emon ‘twin’ as its origin. This was, for example, the understanding in medieval dindsenchas of the name Emain Macha, the power-centre of prehistoric Ulster. In the legend the ‘Twins of Macha’ were born after their mother was forced to race against the horses of the king of Ulster, but the name may also refer to features of the local landscape.
If the name Emonia applied to Inchcolm has emon ‘twin’ as its origin, this might be understood in one of two ways. A striking feature of the island is that it is divided into two areas of higher ground, each rising to over 30 metres, connected to each other by a very narrow and low-lying isthmus. In the medieval period, when the sea-level was considerably higher than it is today, and there was no built path across the isthmus, the two halves of Inchcolm would have been two distinct islands at high tide.
Another, less likely, possibility is that Inchcolm was regarded as the eastern ‘twin’ of Iona, Í Choluim Cille, the island of Columba par excellence. As the western island declined following Viking attacks in the eighth and ninth centuries, and with the removal of Columba’s relics to Kells and Dunkeld, we might imagine that an eastern Island of Columba’, Innis Choluim, might be regarded as, and named as, ‘the Twin of Columba’s Island’ Emon Innse Choluim. And if Inchcolm began to be seen as ‘the Iona of the East’, this might begin to explain its attraction as a place of episcopal burial.
The name Emonia has probably survived in Port Haven ABO q.v.
/ɪntʃ ko:m/ or /ˌɪntʃˈko:m/
This place-name appeared in printed volume 1