Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

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Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: Vistvs. Harrys  
Pagination: 130-131
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Translation of text:

UIST (Section Note)

Uist runs from these to the north, thirty four miles long, six miles wide. This island when the tide flows in in two places gives the impression of three islands: when the tide recedes and the sands are again revealed, it comes together into one. In it are very many fresh-water lochs: but there is one of particular size, three miles long. The sea by eating out the land has opened a path to it, and although the inhabitants set up a sixty-foot dam it could not be prevented from creeping between the large rocks which were badly joined, and often leaving behind small sea-fish. In it a fish is caught in other respects similar to a salmon, except that it has a white belly and a black back, and like a salmon has no scales. Likewise in it there are almost innumerable fresh-water lochs. It has caves covered with heather and hiding-places for robbers. In it are five churches. Then eight miles to the east lies Heisker or Monach Island, so called I think because it belongs to the Nuns of Iona. Then a little further to the north rises Haskeir, at which at a certain time of year seals gather in large numbers and are caught. About sixty miles beyond this to the north west is Hirta, productive of crops, cattle and especially sheep, and it gives birth to larger ones than any of the other islands. The inhabitants are ignorant of almost all arts and especially religion. To it after the summer solstice the lord of the island sends his procurator to collect the taxes, and along with him a priest to baptise the children born in the previous year; should he be unable to go, each man baptises his own children. They pay to the lord a certain number of seals, of sun-dried wethers, and of sea-birds. The whole island does not exceed a mile in length, almost the same in width, nor can any part of it be seen from any of the other islands, except three mountains that rise on the coast, which can be seen from higher points. On these mountains there are sheep of outstanding beauty; but because of the violence of the tide of the sea hardly anyone can approach them. Now to return to Uist, off its northern promontory is situated the island of Vallay, a mile wide, twice as long.


HARRIS (Section Note)

Between the promontory [of Uist] and the island of Harris the following are inserted, small but not lacking in crops: Soay, Stromay, Pabbay, Berneray, Ensay, Killegray, Saghay Beg, Saghay More, Hermetray, Scaravay, Groay, Lingay, Gilsay, Hea [?], Hoa, Ferelaia [?], Soay Beag, Soay Mor, Isay, Seuna Beg [?], Seuna Mor [?], Taransay, Slegain [?], Tuemen [?], and above Harris Scarp, and fifty miles due west above Lewis are seven islands, which some call the Flannan Isles, other Holy Refuges, rising in grassy mountains but lacking in all human cultivation. And they have hardly any four-legged animals except wild sheep, which are captured by hunters but are of no use for food. For in place of flesh they have fat: or if there is any flesh, it is so unpleasant that no-one would touch it except in extreme danger of starvation. Then in the same general area further north lie Garbh Eilean, that is rough island, Lambay, Flodaigh, Cealasaigh, Bearneraigh Bheag, Great Bernera, Eilean Chearstaigh, Fuaidh Beag, Fuaidh Mor, Bhacsaigh, Pabaigh, Siaram Mor called rabbit-warrens from the frequency of its animals, Siaram Beg, and Luchruban or island of Pygmies. In this is a shrine, in which the neighbouring people believe that pygmies were once buried. Many foreigners, digging quite deeply in the earth, have found and still come on small, round skulls, and little bones from other parts of the human body, which do not at all detract from the old tale. On that coast of the island of Lewis which faces south east, two gulfs of the sea break into the land, of which one is called the South loch, the other the North loch. Each supplies an abundance of fish for catching all year. From the same coast of Lewis Eilean Mor Phabail turns more to the south; then Eilean Adam; then Eilean nan Uan. Likewise Eilean Thuilm, Viccowill [?], Havreray [?], Eilean Mor Lacasaidh, Era [?], Eilean Chaluim Chille, Eilean Thoraidh, Eilean Iubhard, Scalpay, Fladay [?] and Shiants. On the east side of this island is an underground road, arched above, more than a bowshot long; below this crypt small ships are customarily driven by sail or oars, while they avoid the violence of the tide, which rages at the nearby promontory with great noise and danger to sailors. More to the east lies the island which they call Seann Chaisteal, a safe place with natural defences, and abundantly satisfying the inhabitants' provisions with a supply of crops and fish, and eggs of the sea-birds which nest there. On the coast where Loch Broom opens the land, the Isle of Ewe is situated, almost all shaded with woods, and suited only to robbers, who ambush passers-by. More to the north lies Gruinard, likewise hidden with woods and occupied by robbers. Looking towards the same location is Priest Island, apart from animal food abundant in sea-birds' eggs. Close to this is Na Fiulaichear. Then near it is Tanera Mor, after it Tanera Beg, near it Horse Island, near it again Isle Martin. These last eight islands are situated before the mouth of the gulf, which in the vernacular is called Loch Broom.

From these islands which surround Loch Broom, Harris and Lewis are distant, running towards the north. They stretch in length sixty miles, in width sixteen. In fact they make one island, for they are not split by estuaries of the sea, but defined by field boundaries and jurisdictions of the lords. The part exposed to the south is usually called Harris. In it there had been a monastery called Rodel, founded by Macleod of Harris. The land is quite productive of crops, but those which grow by digging rather than by sowing. There are pastures in it suited to the pasturage of sheep, especially a high mountain which is green with grass right to the peak of the summit. The learned and pious Donald Monro tells that, when he was there, he saw sheep quite old for that kind of animal, wandering without fixed owners; production of them is increased by the fact that no fox, wolf or snake is to be seen anywhere there, although between this part and Lewis great woods are interposed, which rear many stags, but low ones, less conspicuous for the mass of their bodies. In this part of the island there is a river which gives salmon.

In the part pointed to the north is Lewis, along the coast quite frequently cultivated. It has four churches, one castle, seven largish rivers and twelve smaller ones in addition, all according to their size producing salmon: in very many places the sea penetrates the land and spreads into gulfs, all abundantly supplying herring. There is here great production of sheep, which wander freely on moors and in woods. They are each year driven into a narrow place or fold, and the inhabitants shear them in the old manner. A great part of the flat land consists of moors; in them the earth on top is black from the combination over many centuries of moss and rotting trees, to a depth of about a foot. This upper crust is cut into oblong, thin blocks, and dried in the sun;

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