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The Inner Hebrides of Scotland.

The Inner Hebrides (Scottish Gaelic: Na h-Eileanan a-staigh - the inner isles) is an archipelago off the west coast of Scotland, to the south east of the Outer Hebrides. They are part of the Hebrides. In classical sources, they are referred to as the Ebudae or the Ebudes. Traditionally, the Inner Hebrides have been subdivided into two groups (northern and southern).



The Hebrides were settled early on in the settlement of the British Isles, perhaps as early as the Mesolithic era, around 8500-8250 BC, after the climatic conditions improved enough to sustain human settlement. There are examples of structures possibly dating from up to 3000 BC, the finest example being the standing stones at Callanish, but some archaeologists date the site as Bronze Age. Little is known of the people who settled in the Hebrides but they were likely of the same Celtic stock that had settled Scotland. Settlements at Northton, Harris, have both Beaker & Neolithic dwelling houses, the oldest in The Western Isles, attesting to the settlement.

Irish Gaels moved north and began to colonize the area sometime in the 4th or 5th Century. These people formed the Gaelic kingdom of Dal Riata. The golden age of Dal Riata is thought to be around near the beginning of the 7th Century and began a decline, with intermittent revivals occurring as late as the 9th Century.

Columba came to the Inner Hebrides in 563, founding a monastery on Iona and a number of other monasteries and retreats in the surrounding islands. The first written records of the islands began with the arrival of Columba.

The Hebrides began to come under Norse control and settlement already before the 9th century AD. The Norse control of the Hebrides was formalized in 1098 when Edgar of Scotland formally signed the islands over to Magnus III of Norway. The Scottish acceptance of Magnus III as King of the Isles came after the Norwegian king had conquered the Orkney Islands, the Hebrides and the Isle of Man in a swift and devastating campaign earlier the same year, directed against the local Norwegian leaders of the various islands after they had begun paying homage to Edgar as their overlord.[1] By capturing the islands Magnus III subdued the Norsemen who had seized the islands centuries earlier and imposed a more direct royal control.

The Norwegian control of both the Inner and Outer Hebrides would see almost constant warfare until being ultimately resolved by the partitioning of the Western Isles in 1156. The Outer Hebrides would remain under the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles while the Inner Hebrides broke out under Somerled, the Norse-Gaelic kinsman of both Lulach and the Manx royal house.

After his victory of 1156 Somerled went on to two years later seize control over the Isle of Man itself and become the last King of the Isle of Man and the Isles to rule over all the islands the kingdom had once included. After Somerled's death in 1164 the rulers of Mann would no longer be in control of the Inner Hebrides.

The Lord of the Isles would continue to rule the Inner Hebrides as well as part of the Western Highlands as a subject of the King of Scots until John MacDonald, fourth Lord of the Isles, squandered the family's power away. Through a secret treaty with Edward IV of England in 1462, he planned to make himself more or less an independent ruler. When James III of Scotland found out about the treaty in 1475, he forfeited MacDonald's lands. Some were restored for a promise of good behaviour, but MacDonald was unable to control his son who defeated him at the Battle of Bloody Bay (Mull, 1481) and his nephew whose rebellion in 1493 provoked an exasperated James IV to forfeit the lands for the last time in 1493. MacDonald died in 1503.




The northern Inner Hebrides comprise Skye, the Small Isles and some smaller islands surrounding Skye. They are part of the Highland unitary council region.


The southern Inner Hebrides comprise Mull, Islay, Jura, the Slate Islands, the Treshnish Islands and some islands surrounding Mull. They are part of the Argyll and Bute council region.

The Islands of the Clyde are sometimes mislocated in the Southern Hebrides. Technically they are not part of the archipelago.

See also


  1. ^ Ross 2006, p. 63


  • Ross, David (2005) Scotland - History of a Nation

External links

Coordinates: 56°30′N 6°00′W / 56.5°N 6°W / 56.5; -6

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

The Inner Hebrides are part of Scotland, a series of islands to the west of the Scottish Highlands.



The northern Inner Hebrides are made up of:


The southern Inner Hebrides are made up of:

Get in


The northern Inner Hebrides of Skye and the Small Isles are reached by two roads that branch off the A82 Inverness to Fort William road. The A87 is the further north, and travels to Kyle of Lochalsh and the now toll-free bridge to Skye.

Further south, the A830 "Road to the Isles" travels from Fort William to Mallaig where Calmac ferries sail to Armadale on Skye and the four Small Isles

Further south again, the A85 connects the A82 with Oban, the terminal for Calmac ferries to Mull.

The southernmost entry point to the Inner Hebrides is the A83, which serves Kennacraig, the Calmac ferry terminal for Islay. The Isle of Jura can be reached by local ferry from Port Askaig on Islay.


Kyle of Lochalsh, Mallaig and Oban are accessible by scheduled ScotRail passenger trains. Approximately three trains a day connect Mallaig to Fort William (for sleeper trains to London six nights a week) with at least one continuing on to Glasgow Queen Street. A similar number of trains connect Kyle of Lochalsh with Inverness for connections to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and London. Several daily trains operate between Oban and Glasgow, normally coupling to and from Fort William and Mallaig trains at Crianlarich.


Scottish Citylink connect Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness with Fort William, Oban, Kennacraig, Kyle of Lochalsh and various points on Skye. Additional local buses serve the larger islands; for more information contact Traveline Scotland.


The Inner Hebrides are a popular destination for sailers, with many sheltered ports and inlets offering beautiful and tranquil achorage.

Get around

With the possible exception of Skye (which is easily reached by the Skye bridge), the Inner Hebrides are undoubtedly most easily explored on foot and by public transport, since ferry charges for cars are high and few islands are large enough to justify bringing a vehicle.

In addition to the buses and trains detailed in the 'Get In' section above, a number of local buses serve the larger islands. Very few buses run on Sundays, and most operate a schedule around school times and days. It is highly advisable to check travel times in advance. Traveline Scotland can provide point to point multi-modal transport advice, although some may find bus timetables from island websites more useful.

Stay safe

People are very friendly in this part of Britain, and crime is to all intents and purposes non-existent in many rural parts. Many of the Hebridean islands are remote and sparsely populated, however, and the weather can change very rapidly; it is therefore important to be well prepared before venturing onto the hills or moors.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Wikipedia has an article on:



  • (RP) IPA: /ˌaʊtə ˈhebrɪdiːz/

Proper noun

Inner Hebrides

  1. The islands of the Hebrides around the coast of Scotland, separated from the Outer Hebrides by the Little Minch.

Simple English

across the machair.]]

The Inner Hebrides is an archipelago off the west coast of Scotland, to the south east of the Outer Hebrides.

Together these two island chains form the Hebrides, which enjoy a mild oceanic climate because the Gulf Stream runs past them.

There are 36 inhabited islands and a further 43 uninhabited Inner Hebrides with an area greater than 30 hectares (74 acres). The main commercial activities are tourism, crofting, fishing, and whisky distilling.

Combined, the islands have an area of approximately 415,800 hectares (1,605 sq mi), and had a population of 18,257 people in 2001.[1] The population density is therefore a little over 4 persons per km2 (11 persons per square mile).

There are various important prehistoric structures, many of which pre-date the first written references to the islands by Roman and Greek authors.

In the historic period the earliest known settlers were Picts to the north and Gaels in the south. The islands became part of the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles, the Suðreyjar kingdom of the Norse. The Norsemen ruled for over 400 years until sovereignty was transferred to Scotland by the Treaty of Perth in 1266.

Control of the islands was then held by various clan chiefs, principal of which were the Clan MacLeod and Clan MacDonald. The Highland Clearances of the 19th century had a devastating effect on many communities and it is only in recent years that population levels have ceased to decline.

Sea transport is crucial and ferry services operate between the islands and the mainland Britain. The Gaelic language and the Wee Free Church of Scotland remains strong in some areas. The landscapes have inspired a variety of artists, and there is a diversity of wildlife.


, columnar basalt, amorphous basalt]]

  • Coll
  • Colonsay
  • Eigg
  • Islay
  • Jura
  • Isle of Mull
  • Raasay
  • Rùm
  • Isle of Skye
  • Tiree

Skye, Mull and Islay are the largest islands.

There are also many small, uninhabited islands. One of the uninhabited isles, Staffa, is home to Fingal's Cave and basalt columns.


  1. General Register Office for Scotland (28 November 2003) Occasional Paper No 10: Statistics for Inhabited Islands. (pdf) Retrieved 22 Jan 2011.


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