Viking Farmers and Shepherds in Uig

from Donald John Macleod, Enaclete and Aberdeen

We look upon the Vikings as seafaring rovers who spent their lives raiding and plundering. However, it is evident from place names that some Vikings settled in Uig where they cultivated the land and tended their sheep and cattle. The following Uig placenames are of interest in this respect.

Ardfenish (ON prob Fe-nes) – sheep promontory
Bastair (bolstadhar) – where cows and people live
Cro (kro) – a small sheep pen
Dirass Beinn (dyr-ass) – deer ridge
Cruim a Mhiasaoid (mjo-seta) – a ridge where cattle are herded between two lochs
Gearraidh/Timsgarry (gerdi) – a walled or fenced piece of land or garth. In Lewis this was often pasture land between the shoreland and the moorland.
Griosamul (grissa-muli) – the hill brow of the ewes
Fiavig (fjar-vik) – sheep bay
Fivikgiaras (fjar-vik-gja) – the cattle grazing ridge of the bay with the rift
Kirraval (kyr-fjall) – a hill where cows graze in summer
Laimrig na siorraid (sjovar-rett) – sheep landing place of the sea bay fank
Leumadair (lembd-aer) – where ewes were put ashore
Lochan an Lumadal (lombadr) – ewes with lambs
Loch Beinnsvat (bein-vatn) – bones loch
Loch Bhuinavat (brynna) – watering cattle loch
Loch Cro-criosdaig (kro-griss-hag) – a crook of land for pig grazing
Loch na Fairf (fiovi) – possessions, such as sheep or cattle
Loch Lomhainn (lodhinn) – ewes with unfleeced lambs
Mol Chuir (kviar) – beach of the fank
Mol Peitag (beit-hag) – beach of the grazing or heather ridge
Morsgail (mos-sgali) – moor shieling; Morsgail was used for summer grazing from Viking times.
Naidaval (nauta-fjall) – cattle hill
Phutharol (buthar-hol) – both at the hill of the summer grazing
Rudha Bhugaire (byggar) – headland of the farmer’s house
Rudha Brataig (brattr-hag) – the point of steep grazing
Siacanis (sja-kaf-nes) – point where the cattle were led to the sea to swim to an island
Traigh Foishader (fjori-setr) – shieling above the ebbing sands
-bost, -shader and -sta (bolstad, setra, sta) – all signify a dwelling, farm or steading

2 thoughts on “Viking Farmers and Shepherds in Uig

  1. That is interesting to read. Do you know anything about the genealogy of the branch of the Macleods called the Macleods of Pabbay and Uig ?? My wife descends from :
    Iain (John) Ruaidh Mor Macleod, born 1729, of Scaladale Mhor and Stromos , came to Lochs ca.1760 , was tenant of Loch , Seaforthside in the Pairc district and half of the island of Seaforth. He was one of the chief witnesses in the famous boundary case between Harris and Lewis Estates. He is said to have been Tacksman at several places in Southern Park, such as Stromas, Seaforth and Scalladale where it is said that he was 12 years as Tacksman before coming to Kershader, presumably when Scalladale was cleared and absorbed into the Park Sheep Farm . It is mentioned that in 1766 Seaforth was let to him for £20, increased in 1780 to £31 with the addition of Bagh Reumsabhagh , Scealadal , half of Eilean Siophoirt Briginal and Sromois. Scealadal was part of Colin Crichton’s tack of Cromore until 1780 when it was let to “John Macleod of Seaforth”. Bill Lawson mentions in Vol. 14 that this John Macleod came from Mealista in Uig .(Bill Lawson , Vol.14). He died after 1790 , having married Christina (Christy) MacKay from Linshader ,Uig , daughter of Donald [ Domhnall Ban] Mackay, tenant of Linshader , and N.N. ( Source : Rev. William Matheson in his address about The Macleods of Lewis, page 334 ; Pairc Hist. Soc. )
    Thanks and regards,
    Gerard Lemmens

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