The Western Isles of Scotland
From the Butt of Lewis in the north to Barra Head in the south, the Western Islands form a unique part of Scotland: a rocky chain of islands 130 ... Show synopsis From the Butt of Lewis in the north to Barra Head in the south, the Western Islands form a unique part of Scotland: a rocky chain of islands 130 miles long, cut off from the Mainland by the Minch as effectively as the Channel separates Britain as a whole from the rest of Europe. Despite their diversity in history and landscape, Harris and Lewis, North and South Uist, Benbecula, Barra and the smaller islands have been united by the struggle against a sometimes harsh environment, and the first to maintain their independent economic and cultural identity whether against the 'Fife Adventurers' in 1598, or the land clearances of Victorian times which saw so many 'superfluous' Islanders dispatched overseas. But The Western Islands of Scotland is not a nostalgic look at a people in retreat. Illustrated with outstanding color and black-and-white photographs which emphasize the megaliths, castles, crafts and seamanship, Francis Thompson records a linguistic and cultural heritage which is now staging a forceful comeback after centuries of retreat. Many famous names have had connections with the Islands MacAulay and Gladstone among them while the traditions of the folktale and the ceilidh continue to produce successors to the Gaelic bard Ian Lom and the storyteller Donald MacPhee. Francis Thompson concludes with a look at the appeal of the Islands to outsiders, many of whom are attracted to crofting as a self-sufficient, "green" form of farming.