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Berneray


(Bearnaraigh; Barra Head)

Terrain Map of Barra and associated islands
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Terrain Map of Barra and associated islands

The "bear island" or "Bjorn's Island", Berneray (Gael: Bearnaraigh) is the southernmost island of the Outer Hebrides. Often referred to as Barra Head, which strictly refers to a headland on its southern shore, this wedge-shaped island comprises 204 ha (504 acres) of granite and gneiss rock. Robert Stevenson (1772 - 1850) used the local granite to build the island's lighthouse above Skate Point in 1833. Here, Berneray's west-facing sea cliffs take the full force of Atlantic waves, a storm in 1836 allegedly moving a two-tonne rock a distance of some 1.5m (5 feet). Two fortified mounds near the 193m (633 feet) summit of the island are amongst more than 80 excavated archaeological sites. Last inhabited by lighthouse keepers in the 1970s, the island had a population of 36 in 1891. There is no regular access to the island today, but there are anchorages on the north shore. Most of Berneray is given over to sheep grazing. The island was purchased by the National Trust for Scotland in 2000.


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