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The Western Isles

<b>The Western Isles</b>Posted by Joolio GeordioIarsiadar Standing Stone © Libby Shearon
Also known as:
  • Na h-Eileanan Siar
  • Outer Hebrides

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Sites/Groups in this region:

19 sites
Barra and Vatersay
7 posts
92 sites
Lewis and Harris
4 posts
11 sites
St. Kilda

Folklore

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In his book ‘Behold the Hebrides’, Alastair Alpin MacGregor (1925) explains how the people of the Hebrides are surrounded by the sea and it though the sea is part of them and they are part of the sea. He says it was known as well as though it were a member of their own family and that to them the sea spoke in Gaelic. He says they listened to what it said and from this they prophesied good and bad fortune, at home and abroad, and how by its sounds and moods they could tell what weather was coming. There was the ‘laughing of the waves’ – ‘gair nann tonn / gair na mara’ and sometimes this laughter would be mocking and derisive when a storm had risked life and feeble humans had struggled to survive it. He also describes the laughing of waves across a great stretch of sand on Lewis in calm and frosty weather as being “weird and eerie”.
In the Hebrides there are many descriptions of the sounds and moods of the sea. Here are a few of them.
Nualan na mara – sounds like the lowing of cattle
Buaireas na mara – restless sea
Gearan na mara – complaining or fretting sea
Mire na mara – joy and cheerfulness of sea
Osnadh – sighing of sea, like the breeze through pine and larch at nightfall
Caoidh na mara – lament of the sea.

He says that sometimes the sea is totally still and silent as though it sleeps, and the people nearby are lulled into sleep also; and he says that people who live by the sea derive their vision from it.

Martin Martin, writing of the Western Isles in 1695 says of the inhabitants of one of the small, then inhabited, islands round Lewis, that they took their surname from the colour of the sky, the rainbow and the clouds.

Source: ‘Mother of the Isles’ by Jill Smith
tjj Posted by tjj
22nd July 2013ce
Edited 22nd July 2013ce

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The Hebridean Iron Age: Twenty Years' Research


By D.W. Harding:

This paper reviews progress in Atlantic Scottish Iron Age studies over the past twenty years, with particular reference to a long-term programme of fieldwork in west Lewis undertaken by the University of Edinburgh. It deprecates the survival and revival of older conventional models for defining and dating the major field monuments of the period and region in the face of accumulating evidence for the origins of Atlantic roundhouses in the mid-first millennium BC, and discusses important new evidence for the first-millennium AD sequence of occupation and material culture. The material assemblages of the Hebridean Iron Age are contrasted with the impoverished and relatively aceramic material culture of lowland Scotland and northern England, and the importance of the western seaways in later prehistoric and early historic times as a distinctive cultural region is emphasised.
Hob Posted by Hob
19th September 2005ce
Edited 30th August 2007ce

Latest posts for the Western Isles

Showing 1-10 of 1,730 posts. Most recent first | Next 10

Allt Chrysal (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Allt Chrysal</b>Posted by thelonious thelonious Posted by thelonious
14th September 2018ce

Allt Chrysal (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes

06/09/2018 – Long day walk visiting the various tops on south Vatersay today. On the way back we just had to visit the wheelhouse at Allt Chrysal. I just love this place. We visit a lot of the old sites and every now and again we come across one that for some reason just grabs us and stays. Standing in the middle of the wheelhouse I felt very lucky to be back. A special place. It’s a site for daydreamers. thelonious Posted by thelonious
14th September 2018ce

Cuithe Heillanish (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Cuithe Heillanish</b>Posted by thelonious thelonious Posted by thelonious
14th September 2018ce

Dun A' Chaolais (Broch) — Images

<b>Dun A' Chaolais</b>Posted by thelonious thelonious Posted by thelonious
14th September 2018ce

Breibhig (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Breibhig</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Breibhig</b>Posted by thelonious thelonious Posted by thelonious
14th September 2018ce

Breibhig (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

05/09/2018 – We missed these stones last year. Looped walk from Castlebay over the tops of Hebhal and Hartabhal to visit them this time. The still standing one is just great. Close to 10ft tall I’d guess. Unlike its fallen comrade nearby, this one’s still hanging on. Maybe not as straight as it once was but it had a defiant air about it. Like it was nowhere near ready to be beat by the tag team of time and gravity. It was evening by the time we reached the stones. Meant a lot to get there. A happy visit. If you go to Barra these should be on your list of things to see, easy access by the way from the road. thelonious Posted by thelonious
14th September 2018ce

Lewis and Harris — News

Housebuilder uncovers Iron Age chamber on Lewis


A 2,000-year-old underground chamber has been uncovered during work to build a house on the Isle of Lewis.

The Iron Age souterrain was revealed during the digging of the foundations for the property in Ness.

Local archaeologists, husband and wife team Chris and Rachel Barrowman, are recording the souterrain.

Dr Barrowman said theories on the purpose of the stone-lined, flat stone-roofed structures included storing food.

continued...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-42988416
moss Posted by moss
19th February 2018ce

S64, Scarista (Burial Chamber) — Images

<b>S64, Scarista</b>Posted by drewbhoy drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
7th December 2017ce

Borve Chamber Cairn (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

After splashing down the hill I arrived at the road near the Sgarasta standing Stone (plus friends) and proceeded to walk north east along the A859 following the same route I'd taken to the find the track to Dun Borve. Spectacular scenery all round as the sun blinked between the clouds which created different types of atmosphere and colours to hillside, sea and sand.

There is a hard way and easy way to reach the cairn. To get there I found the hard way. The chamber cairn can be seen from the road and I immediately jumped the first fence just north of a small burn, the Allt Sta. Sadly, for me, not the best idea I've ever had as this was a boggy mess. However I made it to firmer stuff as I headed west. As the burn headed downhill I climbed a small hill to see that the cairn was only about 100 meters away.

Sadly the cairn has seen much damage but I think its still impressive. The capstone rests in front of some of the stones it probably sat on. It appeared that the standing stones were teeth and the massive capstone a tongue, prehistory sticking its tongue out to modernity. The surrounding cairn is 20m wide and it still has surviving kerbs. It is best preserved on the western side at just over 1m tall. Like a few sites nearby I wonder if erosion will finally win the day.

As I picked up my rucksack the sun once again appeared and several sites came into view. Dun Borve to the east is easily spotted with others to the north and south. To the west Taransay and much further to the west St Kilda. When you see all of these sites, its the same everywhere, you realise just how good the prehistoric peoples were at navigation. They simply used the sea and stars/landmarks as a road. That same road will take me back to St Kilda in the reasonably near future.

With that I took the simple way back to the A859 via a track which had appeared from nowhere. Another type of road which led to the ferry and road home.

Visited 5/8/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
10th October 2017ce
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