Benbecula  Inverness Shire


In 1882-4, Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland described Benbecula like this:

Benbecula (Gael. beinn-na-faoghail, ` mountain of the fords '), an island of South Uist parish, Outer Hebrides, Inverness-shire. It lies between the islands of North and South Uist, being separated from the former by a sound 3½ miles broad, containing a number of small islands and islets, from the latter by a channel ½ mile broad in the narrowest part, and dry at low water. ...

It has a somewhat circular outline, about 8 miles in diameter. Its shores are indented with almost innumerable baylets and headlands; its general surface is low flat land, torn into shreds by intersections of the sea, and by a multitude of inland lakelets; and its soil is so sandy and barren as to yield but a very scanty sustenance to the inhabitants. 'The sea here,' says Dr Macculloch, 'is all islands, and the land all lakes. That which is not rock is sand; that which is not mud is bog; that which is not bog is lake; that which is not lake is sea; and the whole is a labyrinth of islands, peninsulas, promontories,bays, and channels.' Yet, though little better than a patch of wilderness, half swamped in ocean, Benbecula was an ancient property of the chiefs of Clanranald, had once a nunnery, and still has remains of an old baronial castle. Much land, since about the year 1830, has been reclaimed from a state of moss; and great attention is given to the raising of live stock and to fishing. A missionary of the royal bounty has a church on the island; where also is a Roman Catholic church (1790;300 sittings). Mrs Gordon's Female Industrial School, with accommodation for 218 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 79, and a grant of £69,3s. 6d. Pop. (1841) 2107, (1861) 1485, (1871) 1563; of registration district (1871) 1651, (1881) 1781.

Benbecula through time

Benbecula is now part of Eilean Siar district. Click here for graphs and data of how Eilean Siar has changed over two centuries. For statistics about Benbecula itself, go to Units and Statistics.

How to reference this page:

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Benbecula, in Eilean Siar and Inverness Shire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.


Date accessed: 22nd September 2021

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