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New! Photogallery of Lewis

lewis chessman - wooden sculpture on uig sands - traigh uuigeLewis (Leòdhas in Scottish Gaelic) or The Isle of Lewis (Eilean Leòdhais), is the northern part of the largest island of the Western Isles of Scotland or Outer Hebrides (Na h-Eileanan Siar). The southern - more mountainous - part of the island is called Harris (Na Hearadh).

statue of woman gutting fish can be seen at the stornoway harboursideLewis' main settlement, the only burgh on the Outer Hebrides, is Stornoway (Steòrnabhagh), from which ferries sail to Ullapool on the Scottish mainland. In the 2001 census Lewis had a population of 16,872.

Both Gaelic and English are spoken in Lewis, but in day to day life, a hybrid of English and Gaelic is very common. As a result of the Gaelic influence, some people think the Lewis accent sounds more Irish, Welsh or even North American than Scottish.

The island's villages are on or near the coasts or sea lochs, being particularly concentrated on the north east coast. The interior of the island is a large area of moorland from which peat was traditionally cut as fuel, although this is becoming less common. The southern part of the island, adjoining Harris, is more mountainous with inland lochs. The island of Bernera (Great Bernera) in the district of Uig is linked to the mainland of Lewis by a bridge opened in 1953.

The main industries are fishing, tourism, crafts (including the manufacture of Harris tweed), and crofting. Energy is also important, with oil exploration and wind farm development.

Religion is important in Lewis, much of the population belongs to the Free Church or Church of Scotland. The Sabbath (i.e., Sunday) is generally observed with most shops and licensed premises closed on that day, although there is a scheduled air service to mainland Scotland.

Attractions on the island include the Callanish standing stones, the callanish by david robertsonClach an Truiseil monolith, the thirteenth century Teampull Mholuaidh church, the Butt of Lewis cliffs and lighthouse and the broch at Dun Carloway. The dun carloway broch by david robertsonLewis chessmen were found on the island in 1831.

(Pictures right and left © by kind permission of David Robertson)

Most of the place names in Lewis and Harris come from Old Norse. The name Lewis is the English spelling of the Gaelic Leòdhas which comes from the Old Norse Ljóðhús, as Lewis is named in medieval Norwegian maps of the island. Ljóðhús translates from Old Norse to English as Home of the Poet (Ljóð = Poet, hús = house). The 12th century ruler of the Island, Leod, taking his name from the Norse word for Poet.

a lewis chessman from the scottish national collectionIn 1919 the Isle of Lewis suffered a terrible blow with the sinking of the Iolaire, when at the close of the First World War the Admiralty yacht HMY Iolaire, sank within sight of Stornoway's harbour, killing over 200 naval reservists from the island who were returning home after the war. In the 1920's many Lewis young people left for better prospects in North America, but recently people have been coming to Lewis to enjoy the better lifestyle and strong sense of community.

This is by far the best website for Lewis information.

Wikipedia (from which much of this content is sourced) comes a close second


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