North Uist

North Uist ( Scottish Gaelic : Tuath Uibhist pronounced [ɯ.ɪʃtʲ ə t̪ʰuə] ) is an island and community in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland .


In Donald Munro’s A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland Called Hybrid of 1549, North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist are Described as One island of Ywst (Uist). In the south of this island, he described the division between South Uist and Benbecula where the end heirof the sea enters, and cuts the countrey be ebbing and flowing through it. Further north of Benbecula he describes North Uist as “this countrey is called Kenehnache of Ywst, which is in Englishe, the north head of Ywst”. [7]

Some have taken the etymology of Uist from Old Norse , meaning “west”, [3] much like Westray in the Orkney Islands . [8] Another speculated derivation of Uist from Old Norse is Ívist , [5]derived from vist meaning “an abode, dwelling, home.” [9]

A Gaelic etymology is also possible, with I-fheirste meaning “Crossings-island” or “Fords-island”, derived from I meaning “island” and fearsad meaning “estuary, sand-bank, crossing across at ebb-tide”. [8] [10] Place-names derived from fearsad include Fersit , and Belfast . [10] Macan Tàilleir (2003) suggests that a Gaelic derivation of Uist may be “corn island”. [11]However, while noting that -vist ending would have been familiar to speakers of Old NorseAs meaning “dwelling”, Gammeltoft (2007) says the word is “of non-Gaelic origin” and that it reveals itself as a “foreign place-names having undergone adaptation in Old Norse”. [12]


Early history

A number of standing stones in the Neolithic period are scattered throughout the island, including a stone circle at Pobul Fhinn . In addition to these, a large burial cairn , in almost pristine condition, is located at Barpa Langass . The island remained uninhabited for at least part of the Bronze Age ; a burial from this period was found on the Udal peninsula (near Sollas ). For the Iron Age , in addition to the wheelhousess typical of the Outer Hebrides, the remains of a broch , from the late Iron Age, can be found at Dun an Sticir; There Was formerly Reviews another broch near Scolpaig , aim It was Replaced by Scolpaig Tower in the 19th century. In the 3rd century, stone houses have been shaped like ” Jelly Babies ” [note 1] .

Kingdom of the Isles

Whoever the occupants of Jelly Baby Houses were, they were followed in the 9th century by viking settlers, who established the Kingdom of the Isles throughout the Hebrides. Initially, vikings built turf -based buildings; however, on the shore, the environmental and chemical composition of machair causes these buildings to rapidly degrade and turn purple [note 2] . Following Norwegian unification, the Kingdom of the Isles became a crown dependency of the Norwegian king; to the Norwegians it was Suðreyjar (meaning southern isles ). Malcolm III of ScotlandSuðreyjar was not Scottish, and king Edgar quitclaimed any residual doubts.

However, in the mid 12th century, Somerled , a Norse-Gael of uncertain origin, launched, which made Suðreyjar entirely independent. Following his death, Somerled’s heirs ( Clann Somhairle ), Somerled’s heirs , and the dynasty (The Crovan dynasty ). The Macrory , a branch of Somerled’s heirs, ruled Uist, Barra , Eigg , Rum , the Rough Bounds , Bute , Arran , and northern Jura [13] [14] [15][16] [17] .

In the 13th century, despite Edgar’s quitclaim, Scottish forces attempted to conquer parts of Suðreyjar, culminating in the indecisive Battle of Largs .

In 1266, the affair was settled by the Treaty of Perth , which transferred the whole of Suðreyjar to Scotland, in exchange for a very large sum of money [note 3] . The Treaty expressly preserved the status of the Suðreyjar rulers; the Macrory lands, excepting Bute, Arran, and Jura, became the Lordship of Garmoran , a quasi-independent crown dependency, rather than an intrinsic part of Scotland.

Lordship of Garmoran

At the turn of the century, William I had created the position of Sheriff of Inverness , to be responsible for the Scottish highlands, which theoretically now extended to Garmoran [18] [19] . In 1293, however, King John Balliol established the Sheriffdom of Skye , which included the Outer Hebrides. Nevertheless, Following His usurpation, the Skye Sheriffdom Ceased to be MENTIONED [note 4] , and the lordship Garmoran (Including Uist) Was confirmed to the MacRory leader . In 1343, King David II issued a further charter for this to the latter’s son [20] .

Just three years later [note 5] the sole surviving heir MacRory Was Amy of Garmoran . The southern parts of the Kingdom of the Isles had become the Lordship of the Isles , ruled by the MacDonalds (another group of Somerled’s descendants). Amy married the leading MacDonald, John of Islay , but he was later divorced, and married the king’s niece instead (in return for a substantial dowry ). As part of the divorce, John deprived his eldest son, Ranald, of the ability to inherit the Lordship of the Isles, in favor of a new wife. As compensation, John granted Lordship of the Uists to Ranald’s younger brother Godfrey, and made Ranald Lord of the remainder of Garmoran.

However, Ranald’s death, his sons were still children, and Godfrey took the opportunity to seize the Lordship of Garmoran. In addition, Godfrey had a younger brother, Murdoch, whose heirs (the Siol Murdoch ) now claim to own part of North Uist. Godfrey ‘s Family (The Siol Gorrie ) and those of his brothers. Surviving records do not describe this in detail, but traditional accounts report an incident where the Siol Gorrie dug away the embankment of a Loch, causing it to flood a nearby village in which the Siol Murdoch lived (and hence drown them); the accounts claim that the floodwater formed Loch Hosta [21] .

In 1427, frustrated with the level of violence in the highlands Generally, together with the insurgency Caused by His Own cousin , King James I Demanded That highland magnates shoulds expects meeting at Inverness . On arrival, many of the leaders have been seized and imprisoned. Alexander MacGorrie, son of Godfrey, was considered to be one of the most reprehensible, and after a quick show , was soon executed [22] . As Godfrey’s de facto position as Lord of Garmoran, and in view of Ranald’s heirs being responsible for violence, King James declared the Lordship forfeit.

Early lairds

Hugh of Sleat and his sounds

Following the forfeiture, most of Garmoran (including North Uist) remained with the Scottish crown until 1469, when James III granted Lairdship of John of Ross , the Lord of the Isles. In turn, John passed to his own half-brother, Hugh of Sleat ; the charter to Hugh was confirmed by the king – James IV – in a 1493 charter, but Ranald’s heirs ( Clan Ranald ) disputed the charter.

Hugh died a few years later, and in 1505 his eldest his, John, granted North Uist (and Sleat) to Ranald Bane , the leader of Clan Ranald; the reasons John had survived records. Nevertheless, Hugh ‘s second son, Donald Gallach , opposed Clan Ranald and established his own de facto control of North Uist and Sleat [note 6] . In the following year (1506), Donald was stabbed to death by his younger brother – Black Archibald . Authorized King Ranald Bane to take the lands by force; According to Ranald Bane’s success lead to Black Archibald resorting to piracy [23] .

Three years later, however, Black Archibald returned. Traditional accounts that he had been away, Angus Collach [note 7] (Archibald’s other brother) attempted to rape a woman on North Uist; This film is taken from the Siol Gorrie and Clan Ranald captured Angus and drowned him at sea [23] . According to these accounts, Black Archibald now took revenge, killing large numbers of Siol Gorrie [23] . Despite his behavior, Black Archibald managed to ingratiate himself with James IV, by capturing and handing over two hackers – distant relations from Clan MacAlister [23]; in 1511, the king rewarded Black Archibald by him for forgiveness for his crimes, and confirming his possession of Sleat and North Uist [23] .

The Hunchback

At some point before 1520, Black Archibald was murdered by Donald Gallach’s, Donald Gruamach [note 8] . Consequently, in 1520, James IV Issued a charter Awarding lairdship of Sleat and North Uist to Alastair Crotach MacLeod [note 9] , the leader of the Siol Tormoid , Who possessed the Neighboring lands, and HAD-been loyal to James During Donald Dubh ‘s rebellion.

In 1539, Donald Gruamach’s sound – Donald Gorm [note 10] – invaded the Siol Tormoid lands on Skye , in an attempt to take back Sleat and North Uist [note 11] . However, that same year, Donald Gorm was hit by an arrow while besieging Eilean Donan castle; in the process of removing it, he severed an artery, and died [note 12] . In 1542, King James V issued a charter confirming Alastair Crotach as laird of Sleat and North Uist.

Mary MacLeod

After the deaths of Alastair Crotach and his son William, in quick succession (1547, and 1553, respectively), Alastair’s heir was his young granddaughter, Mary MacLeod. Donald Gormson, Donald Gorm’s, took the opportunity to sixteen Sleat and North Uist. The Regent assigned nominal feudal wardship of her to the Earl of Huntly , who also proposed to sell it to the Earl of Argyll . In 1554, the following year, Mary of Guise became Regent (for her daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots ), and issued both Earls with Letters of Fire and Sword against Donald Gormson, and Clan Ranald, instructing the Earls to pursue their utter extermination .

However, the forces of the Earl of Huntly had previously been defeated by Clan Ranald at the Battle of the Shirts , which made them reluctant to enter Clan Ranald territory; the Earl abandoned the pursuit, but was promptly imprisoned by Mary of Guise for doing so. Three years later, the Lords of the Congregation , the Earl of Argyll among them, emerged as an organized resistance to Mary of Guise. By 1562, the Earl of Huntly, now released, was in outright opposition to Queen Mary, and died at the Battle of Corrichel . Three years later, Donald Gormson had taken the Queen’s side during the Chaseabout Raid , and was considered back in royal favor; the tables had turned completely.

Consequently, on 4th March 1567 [note 13] Donald Gormson and the Earl of Argyll drew up a contract, according to which:

  • Would Donald Gormson enter a leap of manrent to the Earl of Argyll
  • Donald Gormson would provide military aid to Mary MacLeod’s uncle, on request from the Earl of Argyll
  • Mary MacLeod would quitclaim her rights to Slate and North America in return for 500 Marks, to be paid by Donald Gormson
  • The Earl of Argyll would be pursuing the Queen to grant him a charter for those lands, and subinfeudate them to Donald Gormson, in return for 1000 marks

Old Blue-eyes

In 1594, as an opponent of the Reformation , Donald Gorm Mor – Donald Gormson ‘s grandson [note 14] – sent troops to support Tyrone’ s rebellion against the Queen Elizabeth of England . In 1596, concerned by this, and similar action by other highland leaders, James VI King of Scotland (Elizabeth’s heir) asked that highland leaders send well-armed men, as well as themselves, to meet him at Dumbarton on August 1st. Donald Gorm Mor obeyed the summons, and was more pardoned for previous offenses, and granted a charter which admitted him as rightful heir of Hugh of Sleat, and confirmed him as laird of Sleat and North Uist.

Tormoid, Donald Gorm Mor married the daughter of the Siol Tormoid leader, Rory . Unfortunately, the marriage failed catastrophically, leading to the War of the One-Eyed Woman . A series of initial skirmishes lead to the Battle of Carinish in North Uist, the last battle in Scotland that involved bows and arrows. Though the Donald the Battle, it leads to the Battle of Chur Na Creiche , where it has a more decisive victory, to which point the privy council intervened, and imposed a lasting peace. Donald was succeeded by Donald Gorm Og [note 15] , whose loyalty to the king was madeBaronet of Sleat [note 16] .


The Papists Act

A century later, Donald Gorm Og’s heir, the 4th Baronet of Sleat [note 17] , was living comfortably in Glasgow . However, in 1715, he decided to support the Jacobite rebellion , and attacked the Earl of Sutherland , but fell ill and fled to Skye; he was pursued, and forced to flee to North Uist [25] . When the Papists Act was passed following Inverlochy, he argued that he was too ill to travel, but magistrates could visit him instead. Under the terms of the act, this recusing [25] , and his lairdships were accordingly forfeited, under the terms of the Forfeited Estates Actof the previous year [25] .

The Commissioners of Forested Estates surveyed the land, and found it to be in very poor condition; in North Uist, the local population had recently lost 745 cows, 573 horses, and 820 sheep, to plague, and the sea had overflowed the land and destroyed many houses [25] . On his succession, in 1723, the 7th baronet [note 18] , Kenneth MacKenzie [note 19] , to buy back Slate and North Uist from the Commissioners [note 20] , and pass them on to him [25] . In 1727, the 7th baronet was granted a royal charter, formally acknowledging his position as laird of the Sleat and North Uist [25] .


During the French Revolutionary Wars , the scarcity of external supplies of minerals to the United Kingdom lead to a boom in the kelp industry, qui est devenu North Uist’s main source of income [26] . When the war ends, the sudden re-availability of foreign minerals leads to an abrupt collapse in the demand for kelp-based products. The burning of kelp had also damaged the fertility of the land. As a result, the crofters of North America (26) ; Even though the landlords reduced the rents (eg in 1827 the rents were reduced by 20%) many crofters resorted to emigration [26] .

In 1826, the villages of Kyles Berneray, Baile Mhic Phail, and Baile Mhic Conon , were abandoned by their inhabitants. Loch Portain, most of those affected moved to Cape Breton , in Nova Scotia [note 21] [26] . As the economic conditions worsened and with reports of islanders having success, the numbers of families emigrating from Scotland to North America greatly increased [26] . By 1838, North Uist was reported as 1,300; before the 1820s, the population of North Uist had been almost 5,000 [27], but by 1841 it had fallen to 3,870.


The 7th baronet ‘s heir, Godfrey MacDonald [note 22] (the 4th Baron of Slate [note 23] ) had replaced the emigrants with sheep [28] . This is one of the most important forced evictions among Highland Clearances [29] . In 1849, when he attempted to evict further 603 inhabitants from Sollas [note 24] , rioting broke out; the women among them seems even throwing rocks at the police officers [note 25] feels to quell the riot [32] [33] . While the rioters were convicted [note 26] , the jury added the following written comments:

… the jury unanimously recommend the pannels to the utmost leniency and mercy of the Court, in consideration of the cruel, though it may be legal, proceedings adopted in ejecting the whole people of Solas from their homes and crops without the prospect of shelter , or a jogging in their fatherland, or even the means of expatriating them to a foreign one … [34]

Six years later [note 27] , Godfrey’s decision simply to sell North Uist; the buyer was Sir John Powlett Orde [27] .

Modern Times

In 1889, counties were formally created in Scotland, on shrieval boundaries, by a dedicated Local Government Act ; North Uist thus became part of the new county of Inverness . Following late 20th century reforms, it became part of the Highland Region. After a succession of sales, the current landlord of North Uist is the Granville family; they use a trust fund : the North Uist Trust [27] .

The population of North Uist has more than 1,300. MacAulays, Morrisons, MacCodrums, MacCuishs, and MacDonalds. [26] .


North Uist is the tenth-largest Scottish island [35] and the thirteenth-largest island of Great Britain . [36] It has an area of ​​117 square miles (303 km 2 ), [3] slightly smaller than South Uist . North Uist is connected by causeways to Benbecula via Grimsay , to Berneray , and to Baleshare . With the exception of the south east, the island is very flat, and covered with a patchwork of peat bogs, low hills and lochans, with more than half the land being covered by water. Some of the lochs contain a mixture of fresh and tidal salt water, giving rise to some complex and unusual habitats. Loch Sgadabhagh , “Loch Scadavay in Uniformity and Complexity of Outline”, is the largest area of ​​North America. [37] The southern part of the island is part of the South Lewis, Harris and North Uist National Scenic Area , one of 40 in Scotland. [38]


The main settlement on the island is Lochmaddy , a fishing port and a museum , an arts center and a camera obscura . Caledonian MacBrayne ferries sail from the village to Uig on Skye , from the island of Berneray, which is connected to North Uist by road causeway , to Leverburgh in Harris . Lochmaddy also has Taigh Chearsabhagh – a museum and arts center with a cafe, a small shop and a post office service. Nearby is the Uist Outdoor Center.

The island’s main villages are Sollas , Hosta, Tigharry , Hougharry, Paible, Grimsay and Cladach Kirkibost. Other settlements include Clachan , Carinish , Knockquien, Port Long Nan , Greinetobht and Scolpaig , home to the nineteenth century Scolpaig Tower folly . Loch Portain is a small hamlet on the east coast – some 9 miles (14 km) from Lochmaddy, with sub areas of Cheesebay and Hoebeg.

According to the 2001 Census North Uist had a population of 1,271 (1,320 including Baleshare ). [39]

Places of interest

North Uist has many prehistoric structures, including the Barpa Langass chambered cairn , the Pobull Fhinn stone circle , the Fir Bhreige standing stones , the islet of Eilean Dòmhnuill (which may be the earliest crannog site in Scotland), [40] and the Baile Sear roundhouses , which were exposed by storms in January 2005. [41]

The Vikings arrived in the Hebrides in AD 800, and developed large settlements.

The island is known for its bird life, including corncrakes , Arctic terns , gannets , corn buntings and Manx shearwaters . The RSPB has a nature reserve at Balranald . [42]

Despite limited facilities, the North Uist Amateur Athletics Club has performed at local, regional and national athletics competitions. quote needed ]


In the 18th century the total population of the Rose Uists dramatically, before the population crash of the Highland Clearances . In 1755, the total population combined was 4.118; by 1794 it rose to 6,668; and in 1821 to 11,009. [3]

The pre-clearance population of North Uist was about 5,000 and it has dwindled to about 1,300 in 2011.

pre 1820s [27] 1841 1881 1891 1931 1961 1971 nineteen eighty one 1991 2001 [39] 2011 [2]
about 5,000 3,870 3,398 3,250 2,349 1,622 1,469 1,454 1,404 1,271 1,254

From Haswell-Smith (2004) [3] except as stated.


According to the 2011 Census, there are 887 Gaelic speakers (61%) on North Uist. [43]

Famous residents

  • The Scottish Gaelic Poet Dmhnall Ruadh Choruna (1887-1967) was born on North Uist and lived his life there. Due to his vivid descriptions of his experiences in the First World War , he is often referred to as “The Voice of the Trenches.”
  • Erskine Beveridge , LL.D. , FRSE (1851-1920), a textile manufacturer and antiquary and sometime resident of Vallay , completed important archaeological excavations in the Hebrides .
  • Julie Fowlis (born 1979), a singer and instrumentalist who sings primarily in Scottish Gaelic , was born and raised on North Uist.
  • Alasdair Morrison (born 1968), Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Western Isles , lived on North Uist and was educated at Paible School.
  • Flight Lieutenant John Morrison, 2nd Viscount Dunrossil , CMG , JP (1926-2000), Diplomat and Governor of Bermuda , lived at Clachan Sands.
  • Pauline Prior-Pitt , a British poet, lives on North Uist.
  • Brothers Rory and Calum MacDonald , members of the Gaelic rock band Runrig
  • Angus MacAskill , largest “true giant” and strongest man who ever lived citation needed ] from Berneray , off North Uist

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