(Beinn na Faoghla)

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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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.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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