View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 9 July 2010

From the Napier Commission, 1883

Bosta Beach, 2006

In June 1883, the Napier Commission into the condition of the crofters and cottars in the Highlands and Islands visited the village of Breasclete, a mile from the famous Callanish Stones. They were hearing from a villager from Great Bernera, just across the water from Breasclete. The people of Bernera found themselves prevented from properly entering their cemetery, just off the beach at Bosta. I relay that part of the discussion. Today, in 2010, there are TWO gates into Bosta Cemetery.

14849. Lord Napier, Commission Chairman: With regard to the dyke which prevents you getting into the burial ground, why was there not a gate left in it through which you could carry the bodies ?
Murdo Macdonald, Tobson, Gt Bernera: When the dyke was being made I was working at it, and we made a gate for the purpose of access to the churchyard, and it was shut up and filled with stones, and notice was sent to us by the farmer of Linshader that we must fill it up.

14850. Did you make any remonstrance to the authorities at Stornoway ?
—I don't think so.

14851. Are you aware that it is not lawful by the law of Scotland to shut up a road to a burial ground?
—I did think so.

14852. Then why did you not apply to the authorities ?
—Because the local government was stronger than we.

14853. In consequence of the shutting up of the wall, are you, in point of fact, to this day, obliged to lift the bier over the wall when you come to it ?
—Yes, we are obliged at this time to lift the coffin up on to the wall, and men to stand there, with others on the other side.

14854. Do you know whether the proprietor or those in authority were aware of that fact ?
—I don't know.

Friday evening

The morning's and afternoon's rains have moved away, and we're now enjoying some pleasant evening sunshine. The ferry is just coming into port, half an hour late, on the second of its three Friday calls - only in July and August by the way.

I posted on Facebook and Twitter the news that the Food Standards Agency has now lifted restrictions on the last Scottish sheepfarm following the Chernobyl disaster of April 1986. After 24 years, it's unbelievable. No details on the location of the farm are given in the article.

And they want to build windfarms in the Minch, the stretch of water between Lewis and mainland Scotland. Yep, it's an eyesore. People are protesting - but some of those are in favour of a landbased windfarm of similar turbine size.

I was watching the Coastguard helicopter taking off this morning and head inland. They were tasked to search for a walker, who had gone missing near Loch Langabhat yesterday. The 46-year old man was located cold and wet, but otherwise unhurt, between Loch Morsgail and Loch Reasort, a few miles west of Loch Langabhat.

Loch Langabhat from near Scaliscro

Loch Morsgail

Loch Resort

Friday 9 July

Pouring with rain as I type this, and it's going to continue pouring down until evening. The rainfall radar looks decidedly ominous. More later.