In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Eilean Siar like this:
Hebrides, The (or Western Islands), the collective name of the islands on the W. coast of Scotland; area, (about) 1,800,000 ac.; pop. 82,335. About 100 of them are inhabited. They are geographically divided into the Inner Hebrides, comprising the 3 groups of Islay, Mull, and Skye, and extending from The Aird, in N. ...
of Skye, to the Mull of Islay, a distance of 150 miles; the Outer Hebrides (separated from the Inner Hebrides by the Minch), or The Long Island, comprising Lewis, Harris, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, Barra, &c., and extending from the Butt of Lewis to Barra Head, a distance of 130 miles; and the small St Kilda group, about 60 miles W. of the Outer Hebrides. Anciently they comprehended also the islands in the Firth of Clyde, the peninsula of Kintyre, the island of Rathlin, and the Isle of Man. They are politically divided between the shires of Ross, Inverness, and Argyll. The principal towns are Stornoway, in Lewis; Tobermory, in Mull; Bowmore, in Islay; and Portree, in Skye. The Hebrides are the Hebudes of Pliny, and the Sudreys, or Southern Islands, of the Norwegians, by whom they were held from the close of the 9th century till 1266, when they were transferred to Scotland. In 1346 they fell under the sway of the "Lords of the Isles," who for nearly 200 years affected independent sovereignty; and they continued to be the scene of turbulence until the abolition of heritable jurisdictions in 1748. The humid climate of the Hebrides is unsuitable for corn crops, and only a comparatively small portion of the soil is arable. The principal crops are oats, barley, and potatoes. Much of the surface is occupied by sheep-farms and moors. Besides the raising of cattle and sheep, and distilling (principally in Islay), the only important industry is the fisheries, of which Stornoway is the chief seat on the W. coast of Scotland. The mfr. of kelp, which was at one time extensively carried on, is now almost extinct. The Hebrides are visited by great numbers of tourists, and have regular steamboat communication with Oban and Glasgow. There are lighthouses at the Butt of Lewis, Stornoway, Monach islands, Scalpay island, Ushenish, and Barra Head.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Eilean Siar in Scotland | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 26th April 2017
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