Work begins to excavate the age-old Dunyvaig Castle, in a project supported by the Lagavulin 200th Legacy fund

Archaeologists from across the UK converge on Lagavulin Bay to take part in the ground-breaking project to uncover the history of the Dunyvaig Castle on Islay, following support from the Lagavulin 200th Legacy fund.


A ground-breaking project has begun on the Lagavulin Bay to uncover Dunyvaig Castle, which sits on a peninsula adjacent to Lagavulin Distillery on Islay.

The excavation, which has attracted archaeologists from across the UK, is being undertaken by Scottish charity Islay Heritage following a donation as part of the Lagavulin 200th Legacy fund.

The ground-breaking marks the first step in what will be a long-term project to establish what life was like when Dunyvaig Castle was an operational fortress in the Middle Ages before being demolished in 1677. Despite there being distilleries in existence at Lagavulin since the 18th century, the history of the Dunyvaig Castle dates back well before this.

Dunyvaig Castle

Dr Nick Morgan, Diageo Head of Whisky Outreach, who led the Lagavulin 200 Legacy project, said: “Islay is famous as the world’s greatest whisky island, but it is also one of Scotland’s most important historical locations and we are thrilled that the Lagavulin Legacy project has been able to support Islay Heritage in its mission to raise the island’s archaeological profile for both the local community and visitors to the island. 

“This excavation at Dunyvaig Castle is the culmination of hard work and commitment from Islay Heritage, Lagavulin Distillery and the wider community. We’re looking forward to seeing what interesting discoveries will be uncovered over the next few weeks.”

Georgie Crawford, former Lagavulin Distillery Manager, who led the Lagavulin 200th anniversary project, added: “We have worked closely with Islay Heritage and the local community for a number of years to reach this point so it’s very exciting to see work officially start at Dunyvaig Castle. We’re very proud to see the legacy of Lagavulin’s 200th anniversary celebrations being realised just a short distance from the distillery.” 

As part of the project, the Lagavulin Distillery also hosted an opening evening for local residents, members of Islay Heritage and the archaeologists involved.

The Lagavulin 200th anniversary legacy funds were raised through the sale of a special bottling of a Lagavulin 1991 Single Malt Scotch Whisky cask which was carefully selected by the distillery team and Diageo Chief Executive Ivan Menezes.