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Bhaltos Peninsula


The Bhaltos Peninsula, the area of the Bhaltos Estate, has always been a rich, densely settled part of the Isle of Lewis.

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Early Settlement

We need to go back much, much earlier to understand the first settlement of Bhaltos; people have lived in the Outer Hebrides for at least 9,000 years, since shortly after the end of the last Ice Age. At that time, the landscape looked very different.

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The Bronze and Iron Ages

When metal working came in, about 3,500 years ago, the first metals that were used were those which melted easily, such as gold and copper. Copper could be made harder, for tools and weapons, by mixing it with tin or zinc, producing bronze or brass. The Bronze Age had arrived.

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Scandinavians and the Middle Ages

The brochs, wheelhouses and similar round or oval buildings were lived in until around about AD 800, when Scandinavian invaders arrived in the islands. The Vikings had come. They became the rulers of the Hebrides for nearly 500 years.

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The Modern Period

In the 18th and 19th centuries, some of the settlements around the Peninsula were cleared to make way for sheep farms, for example Uigen, Clibhe, and Berie. Occupants were moved to other areas of the island, or to Bhaltos, or emigrated to the mainland or overseas.

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Other Sites

There are many archaeological sites around the Bhaltos Peninsula that don't fit into this neat chronological sequence, because we are unable to date them. One that is worth visiting is the settlement up by Loch Trialabhat (see map), in the hills at the centre of the peninsula. On the eastern shore of the loch are the tumbled ruins of small stone and turf buildings, which might be mediaeval, or might be earlier.

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The Presence of the Past

The history of the peninsula is written on its landscape, and the traditional respect for the remains of the past means that there are many archaeological sites to visit and view, some spectacular, others more every-day, and not just from relatively recent years. You are welcome to wander over the landscape, to explore and enjoy the sites, making sure that you leave gates as you found them, and do not drop rubbish.

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There are two museums locally which hold significant collections from Uig.  The museum of the local historical society (Comann Eachdraidh Uige) is based at the community centre, at Eirista, adjoining the local school, and has a mixture of social history collections and some archaeological finds.  There is also a good museum in Stornoway, Museum nan Eilean, that holds representative finds from all over the Western Isles, including Uig.

Further Reading

Armit, I 1996 The Archaeology of Skye and the Western Isles

Hebridean Connections

MacDonald, D, 1967 Tales & Traditions of the Lews

Scottish Outdoor Access Code

Western Isles SMR

Finlay MacLeod The Norse Mills of Lewis