A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland

The following is from A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland by Martin Martin:

The Islands of Rum, Muck & Cannay

THIS isle lies about four leagues south from Skye; it is mountainous and heathy, but the coast is arable and fruitful. The isle is five miles long from south to north, and three from east to west; the north end produces some wood. The rivers on each side afford salmon. There is plenty of land and sea-fowl; some of the latter, especially the puffin, build in the hills as much as in the rocks on the coast, in which there are abundance of caves: the rock facing the west side is red, and that on the east side grey. The mountains have some hundred of deer grazing in them. The natives gave me an account of a strange observation, which they say proves fatal to the posterity of Lachlin, a cadet of MacLean of Collís family; that if any of them shoot at a deer on the mountain Finchra, he dies suddenly, or contracts some violent distemper, which soon puts a period to his life. They told me some instances to this purpose: whatever may be in it, there is none of the tribe above-named will ever offer to shoot the deer in that mountain.

The bay Loch-Scresord on the east side is not fit for anchoring, except without the entry.

There is a chapel in this isle; the natives are Protestants; MacLean of Coll is proprietor, and the language and habit the same with the northern isles.

IT lies a little to the south-west of Rum, being four miles in circumference, all surrounded with a rock; it is fruitful in corn and grass; the hawks in the rocks here are reputed to be very good. The cattle, fowls, and amphibia of this island are the same as in other isles; the natives speak the Irish tongue only, and use the habit worn by their neighbours.

THIS isle lies about half a mile off Rum; it is two miles from south to north, and one from east to west. It is for the most part surrounded with a high rock, and the whole fruitful in corn and grass: the south end hath plenty of cod and ling.

There is a high hill in the north end, which disorders the needle in the compass: I laid the compass on the stony ground near it, and the needle went often round with great swiftness, and instead of settling towards the north, as usual, it settled here due east. The stones in the surface of the earth are black, and the rock below facing the sea is red; some affirm that the needle of a shipís compass, failing by the hill, is disordered by the force of the magnet in this rock: but of this I have no certainty.

The natives call this isle by the name Tarsin at sea; the rock Heisker on the south end abounds with wild geese in August, and then they cast their quills. The church in this isle is dedicated to St. Columbus. All the natives are Roman Catholics; they use the language and habit of the other isles. Allan Macdonald is proprietor. There is good anchorage on the north-east of this isle.

The Island of Egg


Copyright © Scotland from the Roadside 2016