Bernera - Great Bernera
The Isle of Bernera is linked to Lewis by a spectacular bridge which was built in 1953. Great Bernera lies in Loch Roag. Near the bridge is a unique standing stone arrangement - called Callanish VIII - a megalithic group of four standing stones arranged in a semicircle facing the strait that divides Great Bernera from the Isle of Lewis.
Great Bernera Bridge - Great Importance to the Island
Great Bernera is joined to Lewis by a lovely bridge which was built in 1953. Prior to this time the island was linked to the mainland Lewis only by the sea.
There were 4000 people who watched eagerly as the bridge was opened. The bridge was built using pre-stressed concrete, a method developed in France and Belgium. At that time there were only six bridges in the UK that had been built this way.
As this method required only 25% of the steel in ordinary reinforced concrete - it was a solution to the lack of steel after the war. With its 3 spans and overall length of 108ft it was the second largest bridge of its kind at that time. A model of it was exhibited at The Festival of Britain.
Divers were used to excavate the holes for sinking the two piers, which were concrete pipes filled with concrete. This work was very dangerous because of the strong currents and the divers had to be lashed to the scaffolding for safety.
Whilst they were diving a causeway mentioned in a book published in the 17th century was discovered and can still be seen today at very low tides. In the 1950s the residents were so eager to keep in close contact with Lewis that they threatened to build their own causeway by dynamiting the cliffs on either side.
Probably if the bridge hadn't been built - today thee would have been nobody residing in Berneray.
International Importance in The Engineering World
The bridge was actually of great importance in the international engineering world - as it was the first stressed concrete bridge to be built in Europe
The name Great Bernera
The name is thought to be of Norse origin Bern (meaning bear) ey - meaning Island. Indeed many names of villages and settlements in the area are also thought to be Norse
The Terrain of Bernera
The terrain of Bernera with its many valleys and scoured boulders has occurred in part as a direct result of the movement of glaciers during ice ages, and by sea erosion.
Over many years the sea level has risen affecting settlement and the way the land has been used as well as altering the actual land shape
Bernera is Owned By Former Queen’s Herald Count Robin de la Lanne Mirrlees
The Count lived on Great Bernera in the Outer Hebrides, for 47 years - after buying the island before he had even viewed it - in 1962. He was thought of as a popular laird. He kept rents low and often gave land for community facilities. Count Robin once welcomed the Duke of Rothesay and Princess of Wales to his island, while the family of Chancellor Alistair Darling are among Great Bernera’s 350 inhabitants.
There are Five species of bumblebees that do very well on Berneray. The great yellow bumblebee, a nationally scarce species can be found on the machair at Bernera. This bee feeds on red clover or black knapweed. Sometimes during the summer months you can also see The Hebridean subspecies of heath bee feeding on the heather on the moorland hills.
Scottish Poetry Publisher - Callum Macdonald born on Great Bernera
Callum Macdonald one of the the most important publishers of Scottish poetry of the 20th century, who was born on the island
The island is scattered with ancient sacred sites, stone circles ,Iron Age inhabitation - all with beautiful natural surroundings.
Bosta Iron Age House
The iron age village first came to light after gales in 1993 exposed it. Found at Bosta on the northern end of Great Bernera was a network of 9 stone buildings all connected by tunnels.
It is the most completely preserved late-Iron Age village ever found in this country. The Iron Age house is also in a most peaceful tranquil setting at the beautiful Bosta beach.
There was a riot - the Bernera Riot in 1872. This riot really was a response to the Highland Clearances. Basically a local crofter resisted The Clearances.
The islanders refused to send their livestock over to Lewis, and were in turn threatened with a military visit. This didn't actually happen but even more eviction notices were handed out, and the visitors were pelted with clods of earth.
Bernera Lobster Ponds
Built in the 1860s, two miles north of the village of Circebost in Great Bernera and on the east side of Loch Birsay the gaelic name for the pond is Tob Blar Meadha.
The lobster pond was built Murdo Morrison of Circebost. There are quite a few lobster pots on both Lewis and Harris - but this one is the largest and has been in use for the longest period of time.
The fisherman before the pond was built - used to send their lobsters "live" to the mainland - the pond allows the lobsters to be stored until it is both convenient and/or cost effective to obtain the best prices from the mainland. THe lobsters in the Loch Roag waters grow to an enormous size
Fishing has always been of great importance on Great Bernera and In 1972 a processing plant was built at Kirkibost Pier. This pier still a working pier is really pretty and you can see just how rustic life really is on Great Bernera
Callanis VIII Stones
Situated very close to the Great Bernera Bridge are a megalithic group of four standing stones known as Callanish VIII
The stone form a semi circle facing the strait that separates Great Bernera from Lewis.The tallest stone is just
about 3metres in height. The north-east one was re-erected in 1985 in its socket hole with its original packing stones. The semi circle is known locally as Tursachan, which does actually mean "Standing Stones"
The photo below was taken at the beginning of a walk. from Valasay to Bosta
We had parked the car at the other side of the lovely bridge and walked across the bridge.
Once across the bridge you will see that there are a couple of houses that have such a picturesque setting. I imagine the fact that all their belongings need to be carried over this tiny bridge is of little consequence.
The Iron Age Village was discovered at Bosta - only in 1993 when after severe gales the remains were revealed. A long excavation then followed which revealed the very important archeological finds. A reconstruction of an entire house was then carried out and that iron age house is open for visitors to see today.......
The Time and Tide Bell - Bosta - Great Bernera - Western Isles. There are to be installations of around 12 bells to be situated around the coast of Great Britain. Bosta beach has been chosen to take part in this unique data recording. The Bell works with the rise and fall of the tides, with the water at high tide moving the clapper to strike the bell. ......