Bheàrnaraigh

Fantastic rock strata on an un-named beach on the north coast of Berneray. Gneiss I understand, a metamorphic rock 542 to 4000 million years old. I thought geologists could be more precise than that.

Berneray, Gaelic Bheàrnaraigh, is said to come from the Norse bjarnar and ey meaning island of the bear. Whether bears survived here is hard to believe, it’s largely machair with no workable peat beds so blocks of peat for fuel had to be brought in by boat from Votersay and Stroma. Berneray no longer feels like an island due to its connection by a causeway to North Uist. In the 18th century, the 700 strong population was principally involved in the kelp trade, used to produce chemicals for the soap and glass industries. But following the Napoleonic wars the bottom dropped out the market, then poor harvests following by the potato famine caused families to abandoned the island. Many chose emigrated particularly to Nova Scotia. Its current population is around 120.

In the distance is Pabbay, or Pabaigh, which means the Priest’s Isle.

NF9383 map

One thought on “Bheàrnaraigh”

  1. There’ll have been bears up there sometime or other. How long ago though God only knows. For a starter, every single polar bear has DNA from giant cave bears in County Clare in the west of Ireland. They lived in the Burren and made huge hibernation holes: then they morphed into polar bears during the ice age. If climate change makes them morph back again then they’ll never be noticed amongst the bars and gypsy camps around Ennis so God knows why we’re worried about ’em.

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