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The Western Isles

<b>The Western Isles</b>Posted by ChrisCnoc Fillibhear Bheag © Chris
Also known as:
  • Na h-Eileanan Siar
  • Outer Hebrides

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Sites/Groups in this region:

23 sites
Barra and Vatersay
9 posts
92 sites
Lewis and Harris
Mingulay Island
6 posts
12 sites
St. Kilda


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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 2,338 posts. Most recent first | Next 10

Borgh (Standing Stones) — Fieldnotes

From Dun Cuier I made my way back down to the A888 and walked south to Borve. The remaining standing stone is easily spotted from the road so I jumped the fence and went for a look.

The stones that still stands, at a fairly jaunty angel, is almost 1.7m in length. The other is resting, a finely shaped stone, having a length of almost 3m.

Sadly you can imagine sand eventually covering the site, like a nearby cairn and some cairns that seem to have vanished.

Lovely setting.

Visited 10/07/2022.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
12th August 2022ce

Sligeanach (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Slightly to the north of the 1 up and 1 down standing stone site at Borve is a grass covered mound described as a chamber cairn.

Only 4 stones can be seen, erosion or animal damage is on the north side which means there isn't much to see.

However, if you look to the east especially if you follow the Craigston road, some of Barras best sites will be found. To the west is the remains of Dun Cille.

Lovely location, it would be nice if the site was excavated.

Visited 10/07/2022.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
12th August 2022ce

Dun Bharpa (Chambered Cairn) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Dun Bharpa</b>Posted by drewbhoy<b>Dun Bharpa</b>Posted by drewbhoy<b>Dun Bharpa</b>Posted by drewbhoy<b>Dun Bharpa</b>Posted by drewbhoy<b>Dun Bharpa</b>Posted by drewbhoy<b>Dun Bharpa</b>Posted by drewbhoy<b>Dun Bharpa</b>Posted by drewbhoy<b>Dun Bharpa</b>Posted by drewbhoy drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
9th August 2022ce
Showing 1-10 of 2,338 posts. Most recent first | Next 10