2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Geography of Great Britain

The Hebrides
The Hebrides

The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of Scotland, and in geological terms are composed of the oldest rocks in the British Isles. They can be divided into two main groups:

  • Inner Hebrides, including Skye, Mull, Islay, Jura, Staffa and the Small Isles
  • Outer Hebrides, including Lewis and Harris, Berneray, North Uist, South Uist, Barra and St Kilda

The Hebrides as a whole are sometimes referred to as the Western Isles, but this term is more accurately applied just to the Outer Hebrides.

The Hebrides are probably the best-known group of Scottish islands, but other groups include the islands of the lower Firth of Clyde and the Northern Isles. The islands in the Clyde, especially Arran, are sometimes mistakenly called Hebrides too.

The Hebrides, also known as Fingal's Cave, is a famous overture written by Felix Mendelssohn while residing on these islands.

The majority of native Scottish Gaelic speakers live on, or come from, the Hebrides. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college is based on Skye and Islay. Especially on the Outer Hebrides, the language is still very viable.

The Hebrides under Norwegian control

The Hebrides began to come under Norwegian control and settlement already before the 9th century AD. The Norwegian control of the Hebrides was formalised in 1098 when Edgar of Scotland recognised the claim of 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 campaign earlier the same year, directed against the local Norwegian leaders of the various islands. 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 partioning 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-Celtic kinsman of both Lulach and the Manx royal house. Although the Inner Hebrides, from 1156 known as the Kingdom of the Hebrides, still nominally was under the sovereignty of Norway, the leaders were Scottish in language and culture rather than Norse.

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.

In the 1266 Treaty of Perth the Outer Hebrides, along with the Isle of Man, were yielded to the Kingdom of Scotland.

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