Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Island of the Dead

The view from the front of GB’s looks out over Bayble Bay on the Isle of Lewis.  To the left is the jetty built at the end of the Nineteenth Century and to the right two small islands. 

The larger island, the furthest from the shore, is called Eilean a’ Chaise which translates as Cheese Island but which is more likely to have originally been Eilean a’ Chais or Island of Sorrow.

The smaller inner ‘island’ is really a tidal stack but even when the tide is out it is inaccessible.  It is known as Eilean na Mairbh (Island of the Dead).  The remains of at least one stone building and a midden with animal bones, shells and pottery have been found on it suggesting an early Christian site or monk’s cell.  So far no evidence of any graves has been found.

Despite having visited Lewis many times over the years I only learned the story of these small islands this week when I read ‘A Guide to Point’, edited by Liz Chaplin (2014).  It is a great little book about An Rubha, The Eye Peninsula on the East side of Lewis.


  1. Those little islands have such beautiful names. Have you finished that book yet? Maybe you will learn the full stories behind the names. I hope you will post about them if you do.

  2. It is nearly impossible to tell from the pictures how big (or small) the two islands actually are. Had you not mentioned stone buildings etc. on the smaller of the two, I would have assumed it is no bigger than a large rock in the sea, certainly not large enough to hold any kind of building.
    Isn't it fascinating to learn something new about a place we've known for a long time?

    1. When you stand on the mainland and look down on it the Isle of the Dead looks remarkably small to have been occupied. I certainly would not recommend it for a sleep walker!

  3. It takes your annual visit to had the words to Graham's music.

  4. What a beautiful, and yet scary, place to live! Nothing to keep you from being swept out during a storm. It would have taken a very dedicated hermit or monk to live there.

  5. The Island of the Dead title caught my attention immediately...very interesting little island....from looking at it I would never guess it had such a rich history.
    I also chuckled because I have learned so much more about GB's neighbourhood from his brother who does not live there!!


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