The Island

There are many sites on North Uist which give us clues of human activity through the ages;

  • Barpa Langass: a burial chamber dating back to 4000BC
  • Dun Torcuill: a broch dating from around 100BC
  • Dun na Cairnach: said to be the tomb of Che who is credited with the founding of the Pictish kingdom
  • Coileagan an Udail: remains of settlements suggesting that members of the Scottish tribe from Antrim and Down lived here in the 4th century
  • Vikings attacked the islanders in 800AD
  • Teampull na Trion aid: this site is evidence of the Lord of the Isles ruling the Outer Hebrides in 1350AD

Many of these sites (or remains of) can be visited and are dotted around the island.

Over the past few hundred years, the population of the island has decreased dramatically.

200 years ago, the islanders made a simple living by crofting. Crofts were small plots of rented land on which a traditional blackhouse was built, together with some grazing land for their animals. Each croft would grow crops such as oats and potatoes, mainly for their own use and their animals, and they would have a few sheep, a cow or two and a few chickens to provide milk and eggs.

In the mid-1800s the landowners wanted to increase the return on their land by clearing the crofts and putting sheep on the land. Crofters had no legal rights and many were driven from their homes and forced to emigrate. This was known as the Highland Clearances.

In 1886 following many protests and riots, the Crofter’s Act was introduced which gave them much greater security, and many of the crofters who were left have managed to continue this lifestyle.

Since then, blackhouses have been replaced (initially with white houses) and the crofters have taken on more jobs to supplement their income such as fishing and kelping.