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Beach Bay Cottage

History Myth & Legend

Uig is steeped in history claiming, the birthplace of the Brahn Seer, Coinneach Odhar, and also the location where the famous Lewis Chessmen were found.  vikingsThe river, Abhainn Dearg, or Red River in Gaelic is so called after a battle (legend has it) that saw such slaughter as to turn the river red.  There are many accounts of clan disputes and skirmishes, not surprising as Uig was under Norse rule till 1266. 

Kenneth MacKenzie, The Brahn Seer (Coinneach Odhar)

Kenneth was born in Uig, Isle of Lewis and if seems the only fact as to how Kenneth received his 'gift of sight' was on receiving a white stone.  A gift from the spirit of Gradhag, a Viking Princess, or one he found in the sand dunes, or dove for in a Lochan in Uig, who knows?  But his deeds and predictions from that time on is the stuff of legends, as was his horrific death at the hands of the Countess of Seaforth where he foretold the fall of the house of Seaforth a century before its fulfilment.. 

"I see into the far future, and I read the doom of the race of my oppressor. The long-descended line of Seaforth will, ere many generations have passed, end in extinction and sorrow. I see a chief, the last of his house, both deaf and dumb. He will be the father of four fair sons, all of whom he will follow to the tomb. He will live careworn, and die mourning, knowing that the honours of his line are to be extinguished forever, that no future chief of the Mackenzies shall bear rule at Brahan or in Kintail.

After lamenting over the last and most promising of his sons, he himself shall sink into the grave, and the remnant of his possessions shall be inherited by a white-coiffed lass from the East, and she is to kill her sister. And as a sign by which it may be known that these things are coming to pass, there shall be four great lairds in the days of the last Seaforth, the deaf and dumb chief. One shall be buck-toothed, another hare-lipped, another half-witted, and the fourth a stammerer. Chiefs like these shall be the neighbours of the last of the Seaforths; and when he looks around him and sees them, he may know that his sons are doomed to death, that his broad lands shall pass away to the stranger, and that his race shall come to an end."

Further Information:

Clan MacKenzie of Scotland
The Prophecies of the Brahn Seer

Bloodshed at Abhainn Dearg.

The river derives its name from the skirmishes and battles fought here during the many and varied conflicts between the Clans and the Norwegian occupation.  Only the estuary and the river in the valley is called Abhainn Dearg, the start of which is called only Abhainn Caslabhat.  Abhainn Dearg doesn't appear on any map either, so where does Red River come from?  Ask any of the locals and you will get lots of tales of mystery and oral history, but few will venture to the river mouth on a dark moonless night!

This story comes from a letter to the local paper the Stornoway Gazette, 31 May 1929 :

"Sir –

It may interest some of your readers to know how the Red River, Ardroil, Uig, derived its name. The story runs that the Macaulays disputed the Norse authorities’ right to collect taxes in Uig: no doubt they treated the Norse Colony as ferry loopers. On one occasion two officers were authorised to collect the tax from the Macaulays of Brenish. A messenger was sent requesting him to meet them at Ardroil River, and to come unarmed as his masters were not armed. Macaulay, however, suspecting treachery, provided himself with a short caber which he could conceal about his person. On his arrival at the appointed place he was surprised to find both officers fully armed. Seeing the trap and realising he had to fight for his life, he killed them both and threw their bodies into the river, which was made red with their blood, hence “Amhuinn ath Dhearg”. This apparently was the last attempt by the Norse to collect taxes in Uig.

They must have been in Uig for a long period, if place names are any criterion, yet their language left little or no impression; we have very few Norse phrases in our Gaelic. There are many placenames in Orkney which have their parallel in Uig, such as Pabay, Birsay, Holm, Ness, Lyness, Fea. In Crowlista we have that beauty spot, Glenfeavic, Feavic Haras, Camus Feavic. Most people call the latter Camus Uig but a Crowlista person never does. As I stated in a previous letter I am inclined to think Fea is a personal name.

Yours etc.
16 May 1929!"

Other dates in history.

Remembering Scotland at War - Wellington Bomber crashes on Uig Sands

A Viking Age cemetery at Cnip, Uig, Isle of Lewis

Information on the Brochs and archeology on Lewis - Current Archeology.co.uk

Further Information on the History of Uig can be found on the Uig Historical Society website

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Beach Bay Cottage, Carnish, Uig, Isle of Lewis Outer Hebrides
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