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The Western Isles

<b>The Western Isles</b>Posted by 1speedBarpa Langass © Tony Morley
Also known as:
  • Na h-Eileanan Siar
  • Outer Hebrides

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Lewis and Harris
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1 site
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

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North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist — News

3,500-year-old basket excavated at North Uist beach

From the BBC...

"An artefact thought to be 3,500 years old that was uncovered by the tide on a Western Isles beach has been excavated before being washed away.

The prehistoric basket was discovered in an area of shoreline where the sea has been eroding the land at Baleshare in North Uist.

Archaeologists have managed to remove the object with help from the local community.

It will be examined by AOC Archaeology Group.

The basket appears to contain animal bones covered in a layer of quartz pebbles."

More here...
1speed Posted by 1speed
14th November 2014ce

Dun Carloway (Broch) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Dun Carloway</b>Posted by GLADMAN<b>Dun Carloway</b>Posted by GLADMAN GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
7th January 2014ce

Callanish (Standing Stones) — Links


Inspiring new generations? Ladytron.

This is how I like my popular art........ analogue synthesizers, mixing of cultural heritage.... and the Tursachan!

Incidentally..... the Ultravox video that first inspired me to one (small) day make the pilgrimage is here:

Thank you gentlemen.
14th December 2013ce

Coire na Feinne (Chambered Cairn) — Folklore

A tale of strange fairy cows, that usually live (obviously) under the sea. Traigh Niosaboist is the beach immediately near the chambered cairn.
Several generations ago a herd of cows came ashore at Nisabost, which then formed part of the farm of Luskentyre, in South Harris. In order to prevent their return to the sea, if possible, the natives got between them and the shore, and drove them inland with the assistance of such weapons as lay ready to hand. It was discovered that even handfuls of sand thrown between these sea-cows and the shore checked their return to the sea. In many respects these particular animals resembled ordinary Highland cattle, although they were known to dwell under the sea, and to feed on the sea-weed called meillich in the Gaelic. Some of them broke back to the sea: others settled down at Luskentyre.
From The peat-fire flame by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor (1937).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
11th December 2013ce

Loch an Duna (Broch) — Images

<b>Loch an Duna</b>Posted by GLADMAN GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
3rd August 2013ce

Callanish (Standing Stones) — Images

<b>Callanish</b>Posted by tjj tjj Posted by tjj
26th June 2013ce

Bernera Bridge Circle (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Bernera Bridge Circle</b>Posted by tjj tjj Posted by tjj
31st May 2013ce

Ceann Hulavig (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Ceann Hulavig</b>Posted by tjj tjj Posted by tjj
31st May 2013ce

Callanish (Standing Stones) — Images

<b>Callanish</b>Posted by tjj tjj Posted by tjj
31st May 2013ce
Showing 1-10 of 1,160 posts. Most recent first | Next 10