There is always a magic about an island and Eriska is no exception. Nestling on the eastern side of one of the world's most celebrated rift valleys, and born of the cataclysmic upheavals of more than 600 million years ago, the formation of the island is largely of schist and slate with the lower ground to the west as a raised beach from the island.
The partly submerged Crannog, or fortified dwelling, dating from the Bronze Age around 200 B.C and situated some 200 metres in the channel to the east of the bridge, marks the earliest recorded human history of the island.
From the surge of Norse invasions, notably under Erik the Red, which swept the west coast of Scotland in the 10th century, the name of the island is derived.
This probable recognition of Eriska as a sanctuary continues in the earliest written title deeds as it was held in the ownership of the Church in the 15th and 26th centuries.
Certainly there are records of 3 small dwellings on the island in the 16th and 17th centuries. These were situated on the shelter of the eastern side.
By the end of the 19th century there was only one farm, the foundations of which can be seen 100 metres to the west of Arnot's house, which itself dates from the 19th century and is now named after the Clark Hutchison's redoubtable butler!
The Big House was built in 1884 by a branch of the Stewarts of Appin. The architect Hippolyte Blanc, was highly acclaimed not only for his meticulous attention to detail at the height of the Scottish Baronial Style, but also for a very degree of specification in materials which was a mark of his work. Amongst the major buildings in Scotland for which he was responsible are included St Cuthbert's Church and the Argyll Tower at the Castle, both in Edinburgh.
But the main family to occupy Eriska were the Blairs and Clark Hutchisons who still play a leading role in national life. They also built the bridge at the turn of the century, for access before that was only by ford at low tide. When they left in 1930 little or nothing was done by way of maintenance and upkeep by the various owners of Eriska until the island was purchased by the Buchanan-Smiths in 1973.
Since that date there has proceeded a continuous programme of refurbishment and enhancement. Eriska has benefited so much from the advice and concern of those who have become subject to its magnetism over the years. Peace, tranquillity and comfort have remained pre-eminent aims, and are indeed the very attributes which draw people back to the island again and again.