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In the Hebrides
By C. F. Gordon Cumming (1883)


THE dreamy summer in the Western Isles which furnished the notes for the following pages, was immediately succeeded by a prolonged spell of most delightful wanderings in the Himalayas.

On this,—my first journey to the Far East,—my attention was forcibly arrested by many very striking analogies between many of the customs and legends of Western Islanders, and those of Eastern Highlanders.

These, again, suggested such a multitude of unaccountable links between various semi-obsolete customs in Christian lands of the West (which are undoubtedly survivals of ancient pagan practice), and those which form part of the daily religious life in Eastern lands,—that my volumes attained dimensions somewhat forbidding to general readers.

I have therefore deemed it expedient to select such notes of my summer in the Hebrides, as appear to me to possess most general interest, omitting all dryer matter.

These notes I now offer to all my kindred-wanderers on our own romantic Western shores and Isles, trusting that they may therein find some suggestions which may add interest to their own summer rambles.



Chapter I
The Mull of Cantyre—Campbelton--The Scot-Dairiads--Kil-Kerran - Churches of early Saints--St. Colomba in Cantyre at Kil-Coim-Keil-The Ocean—Cantyre's Dairy Farms—The Monastery of SaddeilLegend of Dunaverty—Kil-Cousland—St. Couslan's Weddings—KilKerran—St. Coivin's Divorces—Macnahanish Bay—Kelp-Burners.

Chapter II
From Campbelton to Oban - Isles of Gigah and Islay—Meaning of Tarbert—Legend of the Whirlpool— Isles of Elachnave, Oronsay, and Colonsay—Oban—Dunolly—Dunstaffnage— Seals —Old Tombs—White Stones—A Lake Village Serpent-shaped Mound—American and other Reptile-shaped Mounds —Gaelic Serpent Lore.

Chapter III
Sacred Isles—The Druid's Holy Isle—Brighit, the Fire Goddess—Traces of Pagan Customs—The 360 Crosses—Rude Stone Monuments-360 Sacred Stones at Mecca—Black Stones—Magic Crystals—Solar Turns —St. Columba—His Work—His Death—Tonsure—Book of Battles— Jacob's Pillow—The Reilig Orain—The Nunnery—Massacre of the Monks—The Ruins—The Inn—Jackdaws—Hill of Dunii—Druidic Circle—The Bay of the Boat—Pagan Baptism.

Chapter IV
The Inner Hebrides - Staffa—From Oban to Skye—Lismore—Mull—Legend of Castle Duart —Legend of Lochbuy—Legend of Loch Awe—Isle of Canna—St. Michael's Eve—How observed in Barra—Nordereys and Sudereys of Muck—Wild Boar of Scotland—Wolves—Beavers—Isle of Rum—Scuir of Eigg—Proud Lords of the Isles—The Isle of Mists.

Chapter V
The Quiraing - Uig—A Terrible "Spate "—Gaelic Churches—Forms of Worship—Island Homes—Timber—The Famine of 1883—Primitive Agricultural Implements—No Frost—Dr. Johnson—Legend of Castle Tfstian—Glens of the Conan and of the Rah—The Quiraing—Monkstadt-----Duntulm— Midges—A great Sacramental Gathering.

Chapter VI
Afloat - A Music-Room—Duntulm Castle—Fladda of the Ocean—Holy Stones - Schioch Maddie Cave—Legend of McOrimmon—Water Kelpies - Brownies—Legends---The Kilt Rock—Marine Forests—Flat-fishesti Basaltic Coast—The Storr Rock—The Ross-shire Coast—Legends of St. Malruba—Sacrifices of Cattle—The Need-Fire--Start for the Herring Fishing—Storms—King Haco's Fleet.

Chapter VII
Modern Chips of the Old Blocks - Holy Wells in the Hebrides and in the highlands—Prohibitory Statutes —Wells for the Cure of Insanity—Pilgrims' Bags—Traces of Sun and Fire Worship - Four great Festivals - Beltane - Midsummer in Ireland, Isle of Man, Stonehenge—Hallow-e'en—All Souls—YuleChristmas—The Burning of the Clavie—Dread of giving or taking Fire—Festivals in the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Baltic, in Paris, in Edinburgh and London - Traces of Moon Worship - An Owl's Question.

Chapter VIII
Footprints of the Past - Lonely Chapels—Blended Faiths—Sunwise Turns—East and West Divination by Smoke--Touch of a Seventh Son—The Royal Touch, a Cure for Scrofula—Burial of a Living Cock for Epilepsy—Legends of Isle Raasay—Of Wild Deer—Of buying a Gale—Witchcraft--Drawing the Tether—A Milk Charm from the Isle of Uist—Ancient and Modern Witches—The Evil Eye—Making Images to injure a Neighbour—Cats—Belief in Transmigration —The Luck of leaving a House unswept—lll-Luck of succeeding an Ejected Tenant.

Chapter IX
The Outer Hebrides - The Long Island—Start for Harris—St Clement's Cathedral —Tarbert Handmills - The Thamis - Fincastle - Stornoway— Loch Maddy Market—North Uist—Machars—Shell-fish and Lobsters—Fords - Driftwood—Cornish Blessings - Benbecula -South Uist - Dismal Homes—Wild Fowl—Barra—Kisimul Castle—Eriskay—WreckeraSouth Bernera Lighthouse—Mingalay.

Chapter X
St. Kilda - The Sea-Fowl's Kingdom—Precious Fulmar— Population— Means of Living—Accounts by Martin, Kenneth Macaulay, and Dr. Macculloch —Infant Mortality—Mysterious Colds—" No English "—A Life of Exile - High Morality— Primitive Customs - Traces of Heathen Worship—Rvages of Small-pox—Lack of Boats.

Chapter XI
A Royal Fugitive

Chapter XII
Legends and Folk-Lore - Tidal Current off Vaternish—Scotch Bagpipes—Associations—Dunvegan Castle—Legend of Somerled—MacLeods and MacDonalds—Ancestral Relics—Fate of Lady Grange—Summer Nights—Seals—Cormorants —Star-Fish--Fish accounted fit for Food—Eels—Turbot--Of Scaleless Fish—Forbidden Meats—Drawing the Nets—Lump-Fish--Jelly Fish—Barnacle Geese—Families who claim Descent from Seal-Maidens or Mermen—Corn-crakes.

Chapter XIII
Oil on the Waters - Grey Rain—Portree Harbour—Becalmed—Whistling for a Wind—Oil on the Waters—St. Kilda Puddings—Shetland Cods' Livers—Oily Fish— Fishermen of many Lands —Wrecks averted by use of Oil— Mr. Shields at Peterhead—Application of Oil to Life-buoys—Wreck Register.

Chapter XIV
Farewell to the Isles - Three Weeks alone in the Rock Wilderness—A Family of "Haavelings" —Yachtsmen—Sligachan Inn—The Ouchullins—Divers Tourists— Loch Corruisk—A Good Day's Deer Stalking—Old Boar Hunt—A Whale Ashore—"Blocs Perchis"—Giant Fossils on Isle of Eigg - Legends of Clan Fights—The Grave of a Viking's Daughter—Old Churchyards of Snizort, Nigg, &c.—Of Funeral Feasts—The Skye Railway foreseen by Local Seers—Drive vid Balniacarra and Loch Aish to Shiel -  House Inn—Eileen Donan Castle—Glen Quoich—Fort Augustus—Castle Urquhart.

Summer in the Hebrides
Frances Murray's Sketches in Colonsay and Oransay (1887)

We have split this book into 4 pdf files...

Summer in the Hebrides
Stray Notes
Sea Drift
The Island in History

You may also want to read The History of the Outer Hebrides by W. C. MacKenzie (1903) in pdf format

The Hebrid Isles
Wanderings in the Land of Lorne and the Outer Hebrides by Robert Buchanan (1883)

See also by the same author...

The Land of Lone
Or A Poet's Adventures in the Scottish Hebrides including the Cruise of the Tern to the Outer Hebrides by Robert Buchanan (1871)

A Voyage to the Hebrides
Or Western Isles of Scotland with Observations on the Manners and Customs of the Highlanders by L.A. Necker de Saussure (1822)

Islands of Stone - Stephanie Blankshein - ARP 2022
Excavation of a Neolithic crannog in the Outer Hebrides has revealed a complex and captivating site, answering some questions and exposing many more regarding the construction of use of these enigmatic islet sites.


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