"HARRIS, a parish and post-office village among the Western Isles, county Inverness, Scotland. It consists of the southern extremity of Lewis and the adjacent islets. The Little Minch lies between it and Skye. Harris Sound separates it from North Uist, and the Atlantic bounds it on the W. It is about 20 miles long, and its greatest breadth 24 miles. The principal islands included in the parish are Scalpay, Taransay, Scarp, Pabbay, Ensay, Killigray, Berneray, and Anabich. The southern part of Harris is nearly isolated by the approximation of the E. and W. lochs of Tarbet, forming a neck of land not over a quarter of a mile wide. The northern portion is distinguished as the Forest, though quite devoid of trees. The surface is extremely mountainous, rising at Clisheim to the height of 3,000 feet, above sea level. The coast is rugged, and indented by numerous bays and rocky creeks. There is hardly any arable land, the greater portion of the surface consisting of dreary pasture, swamp, and lochs. The principal village is Tarbet, which has constant communication with Skye by steamboat. The parish is in the presbytery of Uist, and synod of Glenelg. The church was built in 1840. Here is a Free church, and a church of the Royal Bounty mission is stationed at Tarbet. The quoad sacra parish of Bernera consists of the islands within the sound of Harris. Here are parochial and four other schools. Lord Dunmore is the sole heritor. The parish formerly belonged to the Macleods, who settled here after its invasion by the Northmen in the 10th and 13th centuries. A priory stood at Rowadill dedicated to St. Clement, and said to have been founded by David I. There are ruins of several chapels, which seem to have been subordinate to the priory. The Clach-na-greine, or "sunstone," at Bernera, and the Team-pall-na-l'Annait, at Killigray, are supposed to be of Druidical origin. There are other Druidical remains at Nisabert and Borve, at which last place is a Danish tower. Iron and copper exist in small quantities. Freestone and granite are abundant, but gneiss is the prevailing rock. Asbestos is found in small quantities, and kelp is collected for manure. Mineral springs exist. Fish and fowl abound. A fair for cattle is held in July."

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003

Description and Travel

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Historical Geography

Information about boundaries and administrative areas is available from A Vision of Britain through time.


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