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Summary Article: Barra from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Southern island of the larger Outer Hebrides, Scotland, part of the Western Isles unitary council area; area 90 sq km/35 sq mi; population (2001) 1,100. It is separated from South Uist by the Sound of Barra. The principal town is Castlebay. The main industries are fishing and tourism.

Archaeological sites of interest on Barra include Allt Chrisal/Allt Easdale, a neolithic site dating from around 4000 BC. Above the valley of Borve is Dun Bharra, a well-preserved neolithic burial chamber. There are also a number of standing stones on the island.

The fishing and fish-curing activities of the 19th century declined in the middle of the 20th century, although with government funding fishing has recently experienced a revival.

The population has declined significantly since the 1911 figure of 2,620, and is predicted to fall further.

Scheduled air services land at low tide on the beach at Traigh Mhor in the north. Car ferries sail from Castlebay to and from Oban, Lochboisdale on South Uist, and Mallaig on the mainland.

Features The medieval Kisimul Castle, once home of the piratical clan McNeil, is situated on a rock off Castlebay. The novelist Compton Mackenzie is buried at St Barr's church. At Cill Bharra, in the north of the island, there is a ruined 12th century church and a graveyard where, in 1865, a stone was found with both a Celtic cross and a runic inscription. It is argued that this demonstrates that Vikings may have settled in Barra long enough for some to accept the Christian faith. Other tourist attractions include An Dubharaidh, a thatched cottage museum in Craigston, and the Isle of Barra Heritage Centre in Castlebay.

© RM, 2016. All rights reserved.

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