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The Western Isles

<b>The Western Isles</b>Posted by gyrusCallanish © gyrus
Also known as:
  • Na h-Eileanan Siar
  • Outer Hebrides

See individual sites for details

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Sites/Groups in this region:

19 sites
Barra and Vatersay
8 posts
92 sites
Lewis and Harris
4 posts
11 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 2,202 posts. Most recent first | Next 10

Lewis and Harris — News

Diver finds 5,500 year old cup in Loch.

Also here.

And here.
Howburn Digger Posted by Howburn Digger
24th June 2020ce

Airigh Mhaoldonuich (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Visited 03.07.11

This site is actually Callanish XV. See Canmore ID 72849 for further details.
Posted by markj99
6th January 2020ce

Pobuill Fhinn (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

The last stop on this trip was Pobuill Fhinn, a place I last visited when playing gigs at Lochmaddy and Lochboisdale many years ago.

Its a beautiful oval shaped site and there's no need for me to add anything else.

However if looking for Fionns Grave, you'll struggle as it is well covered in heather which is perhaps a good thing as it can observe the beautiful view looking south undisturbed.

With that, it was back to Lochmaddy to catch a ferry.

Visited 30/7/2019.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
27th December 2019ce

Eilean A'Ghallain (Stone Fort / Dun) — Fieldnotes

An attempt to walk to the dun proved futile as a few steps from the road, heading west, led to 'that sinking feeling, as wellington boots began to fill with water. Incessant rain had made the grass look greener it also had made sure the marsh was working well, so I beat a hasty retreat to the safety of the road.

Go to the end of road, instead of turning east to Dun Thomaidh, keep going. The dun is to the west, a further dun further west will have to wait till he next time.

Apparently a causeway was on the east side as described by Beveridge, no chance of looking for that.

Visited 24/7/2019.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
27th December 2019ce

Cleitreabhal A Tuath (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

A final trek up to Clettraval led to an unexpected discovery of the remains of another chamber cairn, a conversation with our new found friends at Berneray helped.

About 300m short of the view point look west and downhill, the site can be clearly seen. Just beyond is the cairn at Corary.

Being 20m wide and 4m tall, several huts presumably shooting butts have been made. However on the south side at least 5 kerbs remain providing evidence of the cairns existance.

On a really clear day St. Kilda can be seen from here, makes you wonder if that was the reason for its positioning.

Visited 29/7/2019
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
27th December 2019ce

Airigh Na Beinne Bige (Stone Circle) — News

Lewis stone circle has star-shaped lightning strike

Evidence of a "massive" lightning strike has been found at the centre of a stone circle in the Western Isles.

A single large strike, or many smaller ones on the same spot, left a star-shaped magnetic anomaly at the 4,000-year-old site in Lewis.

Scientists made the discovery at Site XI or Airigh na Beinne Bige, a hillside stone circle now consisting of a single standing stone.

The site is at the famous Calanais Standing Stones.

Scientists said the lightning strike, which was indentified in a geophysics survey, could show a potential link between the construction of ancient stone circles and the forces of nature.

They said the lightning struck some time before peat enveloped the stone circle at Site XI 3,000 years ago. The discovery is detailed in new research published online.
moss Posted by moss
24th December 2019ce

Steinacleit (Stone Circle) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Steinacleit</b>Posted by Nucleus<b>Steinacleit</b>Posted by Nucleus<b>Steinacleit</b>Posted by Nucleus<b>Steinacleit</b>Posted by Nucleus Nucleus Posted by Nucleus
22nd December 2019ce
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