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Social History of the Highlands

In no country was "the savage virtue of hospitality" carried to a greater extent than in the Highlands, and never did stranger receive a heartier welcome than was given to the guest who entered a Highland mansion or cottage. This hospitality was sometimes carried rather too far, particularly in the island of Barra, where, according to Martin, the custom was, that, when strangers from the northern islands went there, "the natives, immediately after their landing, obliged them to eat, even though they should have liberally eat and drank but an hour before their landing there." This meat they called Bieyta'v i.e. Ocean meat. Sir Robert Gordon informs us that it was a custom among the western islanders, that when one was invited to another's house, they never separated till the whole provision was finished; and that, when it was done, they went to the next house, and so on from one house until they made a complete round, from neighbour to neighbour, always carrying the head of the family in which they had been last entertained to the next house along with them.

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